People define negative SEO in a variety of ways. Some consider it the malicious efforts of your competitors to either build unsavory links to your website or steal the best links from your website.
Others would add website hacking, content theft, brand impersonation, and similar strategies to the list. I consider negative SEO anything that could harm your reputation, visibility, or traffic in search. With that in mind, here are some tools and services you can use to monitor negative SEO activity and the harm it does to your website and brand.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) is a must for any website owner. Once you have set up and verified your website(s), you can sign up for email alerts under Webmaster Tools Preferences.
GWT will alert you to evidence of malware on your website. When someone hacks your website, Google will mark it as infected in search results. You need to be alerted to any suspicious activity immediately so you can take care of the problem and have the warning removed from search results.
GWT will also alert you to manual link penalties. If someone has launched a negative SEO campaign against your company using low-quality links, this will be the result. The sooner you know Google has penalized your website, the sooner you can start disavowing the links (also done in GWT).
Whether you suspect someone has launched a negative SEO campaign against your website through low-quality link building or you want to keep tabs on a link building agency you hired,Monitor Backlinks can help. This tool will email you a daily report of new backlinks for your website.
In addition, you will also get an email noting changes in status for backlinks.
A change in status can alert you to a link being stolen by your competitors, or the loss of a strong link that you will want to follow up about.
If you fear you already have a collection of bad links in your website’s backlink profile,CognitiveSEO can help you quickly identify them.
Once you identify unnatural links, you can choose to take preemptive action by having them removed or disavowed before they can harm your website’s reputation in search.
The result of any form of negative SEO is the loss or visibility in search. Authority Labs can alert you to changes in your keyword rankings via weekly email or historical changes in their dashboard.
While not all decreased rankings can be traced back to negative SEO, they are worth investigating so you can work towards reclaiming your rankings.
Stolen content can harm your website’s search presence if that content manages to outrank yours. You can find out who is stealing your content through the use of internal links and trackbacks from your CMS platform. When you write a new blog post, simply link to an older blog post within it. WordPress, for example, will notify you that you’ve received a trackback to the older blog post each time someone republishes your new blog post.
You can then follow up to see if the site will take your content down. If a friendly warning doesn’t get the job done, you can take further action by submitting the offenders to Google.
Curious what people are searching for in relation to your business? Try searching for your name, your business name, or unique product names in Ubersuggest.
You might find some negative queries in the mix, the result of spamming Google’s autocomplete results.
Even if you don’t suspect that anyone is targeting you in a negative SEO campaign, you should still have some basic reputation monitoring in place. Google Alerts will email you or update an RSS feed each time it finds brand mentions you are monitoring in search results.
Use this to stay on top of any mentions of your brand, including reviews, discussions, and uses of your name in a negative light.
Chances are, you’re busy and don’t want to take the time to go from one tool to the next to monitor your presence in search. That’s where Cyfe comes in handy. Instead of logging into Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and your keyword ranking tool, you can get all of the details in one dashboard.
This tool is especially convenient for those who are monitoring multiple websites and multiple clients. You can set up a dashboard that allows you to see the status for every website at once.
Rival IQ is a competitor research tool that allows you to monitor your position in search for the keywords that drive traffic to your website.
You can also use this tool to see what competitors are doing to get ahead in search. You will be able to analyze the keywords that drive traffic to their websites, their landing pages, their on-site optimization, and their paid search strategy with data provided by SEMrush.
Ultimately, if someone is using negative SEO against your brand, you might feel the sting when Google updates its algorithm. The Fruition Google Penalty Checker will allow you to check whether your website has been affected by a specific Google algorithm change or penalty using your website’s Google Analytics data.
Again, this is a good tool to invest in regardless of whether you suspect you are a victim of negative SEO. You can also use the free Website Penalty Indicator tool that will use public data from SEMrush to determine whether your website has been affected by Google Panda or Penguin.
Negative SEO is real. Even if you don’t believe someone will target your website, it never hurts to monitor your presence in search. Now it’s your turn. What tools do you use?