There are plenty of dubious methods which black-hat marketers use, one of which is to create low-value and low-quality sites before linking to your main websites.
Most of the time, they do this to make their low-quality website seem more legitimate to Google.
However, there have been serious cases where a website receives hundreds or thousands of low quality links, otherwise considered a negative SEO attack.
This has more serious repercussions as it could severely impact your website’s keyword rankings in Google search results, and would require you to take immediate action before the effects become permanent.
It could happen if the black-hat marketer is planning to compete with your website for a high-value keyword.
In 2014, this was what happened to WP Bacon, a WordPress podcast site where in just a few days, the site was aggressively linked with the anchor text “porn movie”.
Over the next several days, WP Bacon fell 50+ spots in Google for most of its ranking keywords.
The webmaster managed to disavow the spammy domains and the rankings were eventually recovered over time.
You do not want the same thing to happen to a site that you care about.
Another case which happened to one of my sites was where an automated crawler and scraper bot was building massive directory sites and linking indiscriminately using a script.
There were 5 identical directories that I found, each with different domains but all generating approximately 30-50 links over to my domain.
While my case was not as serious as WP Bacon, I nevertheless disavowed those domains to mitigate and prevent any negative impact from their linking.
Now that you know of these cases and possible harmful impact, there are a few ways in which you can detect and protect yourself from negative SEO.
Firstly, you can check Google Search Console to see all the links to your site and identify any domain that looks suspicious.
After that, you can enable email notifications and set up email alerts concerning your site’s health on the console.
If you detect any suspicious links that you wish to disavow, you can list the domains onto a text file (.txt) and submit it to Google to disavow it here.
While Google allows you to disallow by URL and by domain, it is usually best to disallow by domain.
This is because the sites that have allowed these spammy and artificial links in the first place would be sites that you would most likely not want a link from in the future.
In any case, your text file list should look simply like this:
Alternatively if you prefer not to do it manually, you can consider using tools such as SEMRush which have an intuitive user dashboard that helps you monitor backlinks to your site.
You will be able to add suspicious links to the disavow list with one click which you can subsequently download and send to Google without worrying about the formatting.
While negative SEO attacks are generally quite rare, you should still maintain a vigilant lookout for any malicious or shady actions against your website.
The sooner you identify any such practice, the less harmful it will be to you.
Hence, constantly check and monitor the links to your site either through Google Search Console or tools such as SEMRush to keep your site safe.
Do let me know in the comments below if this article was useful to you! Also, if you have experience negative SEO, do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
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