How To Determine If Your Website Is Under Negative SEO Attack
A negative SEO attack can hamper your website SEO and also ruin your reputation. You should be conscious of the possibility of a negative SEO campaign. It may be sponsored by a competitor or there could be other untoward developments. The first step is to be cognizant of the fact that there has been a negative SEO attack or a campaign is currently in progress. You can successfully determine if your website has been a victim of negative SEO attack and take appropriate remedial measures.
You should find out how Bing and Google are effectively treating your website. You may only use Google but you will have a more holistic understanding if you include Bing as well. Use the command Site:domain.tld and replace the ‘domain.tld’ with the actual domain name of your website to see all the pages listed for your domain. The list will show you the pages as per their importance. If there are any missing pages, you should check the source code and how robots.txt is handling every webpage that is not listed. Pages can get accidentally blocked due to misconfiguration.
Pages can get demoted due to improper indexing. There can be unfavorable canonicalization. Google and Bing may respond differently so you must know how both are indexing your pages and if anything has gone wrong in the indexing process. There could be some problem with a webpage or the way it is accessed. There may be unrecognizable pages. This is usually owing to misconfiguration or wrong indexation.
Off-theme pages and spam content may also be the problem. You should conduct branded queries using normal and popular phrases to test your ranking. If the rank has plummeted then there is probably a negative SEO attack. Check the raw weblogs. You should be able to check internet protocols for every webpage. Find internet protocols, check for misconfiguration, look for scrapers and assess response issues.
Use Google Analytics to assess the bounce rate, session duration, traffic channels and referrals, landing pages, search console and site speed. The bounce rate will reflect unfavorable filtering by Google. You can identify outliers. Sporadic changes in traffic channels and referrals, especially a sudden fall or unexplained spike, are indicators of a negative SEO attack. Massive changes in session duration and bounce rate are also signs of negative SEO campaign.
If your website has slowed down significantly for no obvious or apparent reason then you should look for the cause. Major changes you bring about on your site may affect speed. Server issues, bandwidth problems and other technicalities that are within your control or that of your host could be reasons too. Any other probability will imply there is a negative SEO attack in progress.
Use Google Search Console to look for signs that indicate or confirm a negative SEO attack. There could be accessible problems, manual action taken by search engines on your external or internal links, you may have messages from search engines notifying you of a hack and search analytics will give you an idea of what is going wrong. You should check for low quality and spam links to your website. Bad links are almost always a part of a negative SEO attack. You should watch out for both internal and external links that are spammy or of low quality.
You should immediately address manual actions taken by Google. These actions are typically initiated when Google senses an attack. There could be crawl errors too if there are plenty of 500 responses from the server. Google will not crawl your website as frequently as it should. Your ranking will take a hit as a result so take appropriate measures, sooner than later.
Check site activity using Bing Webmaster Tools. Assess if your website is showing up on search engine results more frequently or less often than usual. Check the click volume and look for crawling errors. As is the case with Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you should assess inbound links, use the link analysis tool to identify negative SEO, ascertain the response for organic keywords, check for new backlinks and referrals from domains and internet protocols. Fix lost domains and backlinks, broken backlinks, over optimized anchors and broken outgoing links.
You should use some technical and crawling tools o assess site speed, indexation status, redirects, crawl mapping and on page technical factors. Use a plagiarism tool like Copyscape to check for unique content. You should also find content thieves and report them. Find out if there is any internal duplication of content. If your content is being replicated or reproduced, you should use the provisions of DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act to have such a webpage or website taken down.