The term "negative SEO" might be something you have been hearing about recently. Once Expedia had been penalized by Google, it came to the forefront of digital marketing news, and the travel giant came out to address the issue and they claimed that they were a victim of negative SEO.
What is Negative SEO?
Technically, negative SEO is anything malicious that someone does to your site which may effect your search rankings. This can mean quite a few things, but for the most part, and in the case of Expedia, we are referring to bad or spammy links created that point to your site in attempt to hurt your site's organic rankings. The spammer's intention is do bring down the rankings of your site by pointing hundreds or thousands of negative backlinks to your site with the intention of causing harm to rankings or even having your site completely removed from Google's index.
How Do Know?
The answer to this question is the one thing you should take away from this article, and the answer is, DO A LINK ANALYSIS! In fact, get in the habit of doing a link analysis every month. Think about, you spend a lot of time building quality, natural links. Don't you want to protect your investment? Besides, negative SEO isn't the only thing in your backlink profile that you may uncover. Perhaps a third party that you worked with in the past (or currently) used unfavorable practices. Maybe you have outdated legacy links from years back.
What Do You Do?
Download a copy of your Google Webmaster Links. You can combine that data with another third party tool (Opensite, Ahrefs, Majestic, etc). It is not terribly difficult to identify a bad link footprint, especially when they are completely irrelevant to your site. Here is article on identifying bad links and various tools you can use. Once you have these identified you will want to reach out to these webmasters to ask for removal of your link. You may be pleasantly surprised at the response rate you receive. Then take the remaining links and disavow them.
Future of Negative SEO
Google has addressed the issue and has said that it is not much of a threat. With that being said, it is hard to know what their algorithm can manually pick up and identify as a negative SEO tactic opposed to you trying to manipulate your link profile. Maybe low quality backlinks added now will add no value, and legacy bad links will be detrimental. Whatever the answer is, it seems to be understood in the internet marketing world that negative SEO poses a real threat. It is important to stay on top of your link profile, not just to watch for negative SEO, but to also maintain a solid link profile.
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