Catching negative SEO

Google's search engineer Matt Cutts recently addressed the topic of negative SEO in a video, providing insight to those who may worry about avoiding such tactics and ensuring their local SEO is based on approved strategies.

Negative SEO has gotten quite a bit of attention lately, and the strategy can cause damage to those with local rivals. This black-hat tactic occurs when unscrupulous business owners use negative linking and SEO strategies to lower their competitors' rankings on search engine pages by making their sites appear spammy. Although Cutts acknowledged that the practice is not currently rampant, it could impact certain pages, and it is important that business owners are aware of the strategy and how they can prevent it.

If you've experienced a huge drop in web traffic or you've been working hard to try to diminish your local competition's rankings, you may want to read on to ensure you aren't using - or getting hit by - negative SEO tactics.

Preventing negative SEO
Linking is an important part of your SEO strategy - without it, it's difficult to achieve high rankings and generate new business. However, you should always know exactly where you're linking to and, more importantly, what sites are linking to your page.

If you've discovered your backlink profile is full of questionable links, you may be the victim of negative SEO. Search Engine Journal advises site managers to be on the lookout for links from gambling, adult, foreign and spammy sites, as well as pages that result in malware warnings.

To keep an eye on links, webmasters can utilize Google's Link Disavow tool, which signals the search engine should avoid certain links in order to fight negative SEO.

Boosting your rankings
If you've employed negative SEO strategies in order to push your competition's rankings down, it's time to put this black-hat practice aside and start fresh with local search engine optimization tactics that will do you some good. Stop targeting your competition with low-quality backlinks and start employing strong SEO techniques to increase your own results. Implement keywords, use strong links, post frequently and don't forget to develop content that is engaging and interesting for your potential customers. With such SEO tactics, you can work to improve your own rankings on search pages.

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