Frightening New Negative SEO Attack Makes it Almost Impossible to Find the Attacker

 

Yes, negative SEO attacks, where someone who really wants to see you fail and takes active action to ruin your search rankings, happen.

They don’t get publicized a lot. Most competitors also realize it’s more worth their time and effort to increase their own SEO instead of ruining yours.

However, you still have situations where someone with a bad attitude decides to lash out. And in this case, its’ nearly impossible to detect them.

How This New Attack Was Discovered

Bill Hartzer of Hartzer Consulting discovered exactly this attack, which was later reported by Roger Montti at Search Engine Journal.

A client approached Bill concerned with a sudden drop in their search rankings. Bill found links to an odd site, but the client themselves didn’t actually link to that site.

So, Bill investigated that unusual site. And that led him to discovery of the source of the negative SEO attack.

Just How Does This Attack Work?

To destroy your search rankings, unscrupulous attackers copy the entire header of your web page. Then they find a spammy, crummy, horrible, awful website that Google doesn’t like – and they paste your header into that website’s code.

Included in that code is a “rel=canonical” tag. This tag tells Google that this page is the primary version of the website – and that it should ignore the web page it came from when figuring the search rankings.

Google then follows right along and considers the spammy version of your web page to be the primary version. And your rankings get trashed.

How Do You Stop This Attack?

Unfortunately, it’s absurdly difficult. In this case, the SEO consultant was able to identify the source site of the attack because of a tool called Majestic. However, attackers don’t always leave evidence of their actions behind. So sometimes the exact same thing happens – and you have absolutely no clue who did it or why.

Your only recourse in such a situation is to use Google’s Disavow tool. With this, you can tell Google to ignore specific links pointing back to your website. However, it takes time to do, and you don’t always fully recover your rankings.

The other defense is good content. This makes you easy, and desirable, to link to.

For now, that’s the best you can do. Ideally, Google takes action and changes how canonical tags work so this issue doesn’t happen anymore. But, they haven’t said anything about it yet.

So for the time being, make sure you have a SEO company you really trust. Monitor your search rankings closely for any changes, and react fast if they do!

Speak Your Mind

*