Every online marketer knows how much effort it takes to rank high on Google and have more page views than your competitors. However, hackers can apply various malicious methods to turn your work to dust. With cybercrime on the rise, it’s important to address security risks and prevent perpetrators from harming your SEO performance.
What is negative SEO?
Negative SEO is a set of malicious tactics to lower your ranking in search engines. In the worst-case scenario, Google might completely remove a website from its index, causing your business revenue loss and a damaged reputation. Negative SEO attacks can be conducted by competitors, hackers looking for ways to make money, or even inexperienced employees.
How can your website be harmed?
Hackers can insert some malicious code into your website and infect your headlines, meta titles, and other content. You might not even notice it and think that everything is working fine. In the meantime, perpetrators would redirect users from Google search to their services instead of your website.
It’s hard to tell if your page is infected if you don’t examine the code thoroughly. If your ranking and SEO metrics are dropping, it’s a signal that something is not right.
Imagine an interlink that should take users to your pricing page, redirecting them to some shady website. Your visitors might end up with malware or have their sensitive information stolen. If Google detects that your links lead somewhere they’re not supposed to, it can also put your website under scrutiny.
Malicious actors can add thousands of links from questionable sources to your website. This way, they are trying to harm your reputation in the eyes of Google search, which might then remove you from the search results.
Scraping is a technique designed to steal your content and post it on different websites. Google is good at detecting copycats, so most likely, it won’t even index those fake pages. However, if it detects the copycat first, it might block the original page.
A crawling attack can slow down your website or even crash it. But that’s not the only problem — it could also lead to losing your positions in the Google search results.
5 tips to protect your website from negative SEO
Monitor your links
Don’t wait until something suspicious happens, and your website loses its ranking on Google. Be proactive — there are many SEO tools to monitor your links, analyze them, and detect those that might be malicious.
Use strong passwords
If you use “123456” or “qwerty” as your password, you’re doing hackers a favor, as they can crack those in a snap. Surprisingly, there are tons of websites protected only by default passwords, which puts them at the risk of getting attacked.
Use passwords that contain at least 12 characters. A strong password should include numbers and special characters along with upper- and lower-case letters. Your password has to be unique for each service. Otherwise, it can open the door to a whole bunch of your other accounts.
Enable Google Search Console email alerts
Google is on your side. It can send you email alerts when malware is detected on your website and inform you about page rankings or issues with your server.
Use a VPN
A VPN (a virtual private network) masks your IP address and encrypts your traffic, thus enhancing your security and privacy. It redirects your data through an encrypted tunnel so nobody can see what you’re doing online and harm you.
NordVPN is an easy-to-use app that mitigates the risk of having your website injected with malware and losing your ranking. If you often find yourself working in public places and connecting to their Wi-Fi, NordVPN will protect you from evil twin and man-in-the-middle attacks.
NordVPN can also help you analyze search results in different countries. Let’s say you’re connected to the internet in the US. With VPN enabled, you can change your location to Germany, France, or any other country where NordVPN has servers and view the search results as a local would.
Update your software
While this might sound like advice from Captain Obvious, many people ignore updates without realizing the consequences. Developers update software for a reason: they add new features, patch security flaws, and fix known bugs.
Hackers are always searching for system vulnerabilities. However, we can be one step ahead of them with the right tools and the right attitude towards cybersecurity.