Picture this! You work a lot on your website, bring in hundreds of relevant, good links from proper authority sources and you end up being penalized by Google. Your site disappears from the search engine or is so low that from 10k in daily traffic you now end up with 100. That is truly devastating and unfortunately, it is possible.
Spam links that are of a really low quality can get your site de-indexed. Many companies right now try to remove the links before they receive a penalty. This is all a reality after Penguin and although it is something that was highly discussed as Dan Thies was a victim of a Black Hat SEO attack, most likely caused by the fact that he praised Google for the work it was doing.
A Personal Spam Attack Example
I was highly interested in seeing if a Black Hat attack on a good site can generate a de-indexing. With this in mind, I eventually ended up talking to a rather new person in the SEO industry, a guy that simply read all the articles and did the best that he can. While I am not at liberty to tell you his full name, I can tell you what happened to him.
Rick (that is his name) launched a nice online blog and targeted a nice that was not so competitive. In around 6 months he managed to end up at traffic of 10K unique daily, which is pretty good. When month 7 came, he received a message in Google Webmaster Tools and his site completely disappeared from results. After using Majestic SEO and AHrefs, he saw what happened. 3k backlinks, all adult oriented, all spammy, all really bad pointing towards his site. It was very similar to what happened to Thies. Rick just got a competitor upset when he bragged on a forum that he surpassed him in rankings. The result was those 3k adult oriented backlinks.
Guess What! It’s been two months now and Rick still did not recover, partially because he is only one man and cannot take care of all that needs to be done.
The Negative SEO Underground Business
Unfortunately, different reports surfaced on the internet. Ads started to appear. People are now looking for individuals that can actually take down the competition from search engines. This is unfortunately, something that is possible now after Penguin. Protecting ourselves against such a negative SEO attack is necessary but how can we do that? It is the job of the SEO firm to take care of something like this but even they might not be able to handle a huge attack. With this in mind, although the future might be grim, here are some things you can do.
Properly Protecting Your Brand
Before we start, the really good news is that most of the sites will never be attacked. However, there is always the possibility that you may be. Here is what you have to do right now:
- Analyze the work that is done by the SEO company you hired or the work that you did in the past. If there are links that were spammed, head over to Google Webmaster tools and eliminate them as soon as possible.
- Monitor all incoming links and do it often! When the competitor launches an attack, you do not want many bad links to be indexed before you signal that they are basically not done by you.
- As soon as you receive a message in Google Webmaster Tools, react! Usually you get a message about suspicious activity and your rankings are not affected too much. When you wait, the damage that was done might actually put you through around a year of work with removing all that is bad.
- Don’t focus solely on SEO! Start to include different form of marketing. Dan Thies was not actually affected that much by the negative SEO attack because he already had a strong following, with people visiting his sites directly. He did not rely on SEO. In fact, he did not even do much SEO work, as he clearly stated many times.
- Think Branding! Even when you do SEO work, try to increase brand awareness. Do not just stay focused on keywords and URLs. Try to make your brand known so that people start looking for that instead of various keywords. For instance, you look for Coca Cola or Pepsi when you want to know something about the soda. You do not look for soda.
- Continue doing good SEO work! The recent Penguin updates actually got us a lot more work for our Guest Posting service. This is normal since when you do really proper work and you are truly white hat, eventually you will get to the point at which negative Black Hat SEO work will not actually be able to take you down. This is true when you monitor the links and when you remove those nasty ones as soon as they appear.
What many people do not understand about SEO is that backlinks do not instantly appear and do not instantly help in rankings. Sometimes a link appears after a couple of months. The competition can take you down but if you discourage it, they will eventually give up. Every SEO specialist out there will tell you that as long as you are doing really good work and time passes, your results will keep growing. Search engine optimization is always for the long term and you need to monitor your links daily anyway.
Should You Be Afraid?
As it was already mentioned, there is a pretty huge chance that you will not be targeted. However, you need to be aware of this problem and treat it seriously. You need to know what backlinks are created to your site and when you see one that is unrelated or that you did not have a part in, there is this natural need to analyze it. See if you might be a victim. In many situations someone just posted something, an unrelated backlink, as he/she liked something. That is actually good for you.