There’s a lot of chatter about Negative SEO in the world of digital marketing. While it’s hardly a novel concept anymore, the fact is that not a lot of the newbies are aware of how real the threat of Negative SEO is and just how they can go about protecting themselves and their websites against it. Quite a few still need to consult a useful SEO guide for beginners to navigate that side of the realm.

The complete opposite of Search Engine Optimization- the process through which sites can raise their search rankings and rake in more business- Negative SEO refers to the underhand tactics and techniques that are used to sabotage a site, and it’s ranking. However, as damaging as negative SEO is, it can be prevented and protected against. Here’s how:

Website Security Management

Regular vigilance, consistent management, and timely software updates are three things necessary to secure your website against malware and hacking attacks. And that’s assuming you’ve invested in high-quality anti-virus/anti-spyware software. Take things a step further, use two-factor authentication whenever possible, create a particularly strong password for all the logins, and don’t forget about the web application firewalls (WAP).

Backlink Profile Monitoring

Backlink Profile management and consistent monitoring is the most important action any website can take to protect itself. Manual redirects and the addition of low-quality links is a spammer’s favorite tactic. Links to foreign spam, adult and gambling sites, or the ones that trigger malware warning are especially common.

Use Backlink tracking and analyzing tools such as Ahref’s or Majestic SEO to monitor any significant changes that occur, such as new link formation, root domain of the links, as well as the destination URL the link is connected to.

Data Update Automation

Automation for data updates pertaining to your websites makes it considerably easier to track the changes related to your site and identify the ailments plaguing its SEO health. Get notified of any specific problems, get regular stats and immediately find out whether your websites been hacked through the Google Webmaster Tools.

Plagiarism Management

Stealing website content or scrapping it altogether is a very strong way of hurting a site. However, it’s good to know that search engines are well equipped in recognizing original content, making it less likely to hurt your rankings. It’s advisable, though, to invest in scanning tools and content editors such as Copyscape or Grammarly that scan and sift the traces of duplicate content allowing websites to monitor and control possible plagiarism.

Performance Tracking

A websites speed and overall performance is the biggest indicator of its health. If your site is taking more than the average amount to time to load and operate, it’s entirely possible that it’s a spammer attempt to put down the server by bombarding it with hundreds of thousands of requests per minute. Monitor the loading and uptime of your server consistently, and it’ll be easier to tell when the site is down and when it’s being attacked. The sooner you know, the quicker you’ll be able to take action against it.  Pingdom.com is one of the many fantastic tools for website speed monitoring out there.

Disavow Tool

A relatively new tool introduced by Google for reporting Negative SEO attacks, the Disavow allows website owners to take report any and all kinds of malicious activity against their websites and have the bad backlinks eliminated. However, this step is only used as a last resort once you’ve identified and tried all avenues of removing the unnatural spamming connection on your website.