Negative SEO – Spammy Backlinks built By Your Competitors


A consultation with a new client this week revealed that he had received the dreaded email from Google stating that they had detected a backlink profile consistent with spam. Not unusual and as always Google were very polite providing instructions on what to do next in order to be reconsidered.

NetTonic are not unusual in our approach to backlink profiling initially we go for the tried and trusted tools like Ahrefs and Semrush supported by an in-house penalty tool linked to the clients Google Webmaster tools.Backlink Audit

What was interesting in this case were the answers to my simple background questions of “are you currently or have you employed the services of another SEO company?, Do you have an in-house team building backlinks and the key question what was your google ranking like pre penalty.

In short, the client was his sites SEO guru, he did not possess a huge amount of experience or knowledge but what he was good at was producing quality content which was in huge demand by a growing client base hungry for his knowledge of cycling and his offers of clothing and accessories. He most definitely had not employed the services of a link builder and was shocked when I pointed out that between the 29th April and the 7th July there had been 3,250 backlinks added to his site.

A little more research on my behalf this week has highlighted an urban myth that many had speculated about but evidence was sparse. Would another company go to the extremes of deliberately trying to get a competitors site banned.

Is Black Hat SEO alive and kicking?

It is not that long ago that we were bombarded with offers from unscrupulous companies offering cheap link building services, directory submissions and mass often spun article submissions.

The more I read the more it seems that these companies are far from dead they are actually flourishing, just look at the gigs being offered on Fiverr and Automated software previously used to gain ranking positions at very little cost is now potentially being used to destroy competitor’s sites.

Can you protect your site from malicious SEO attacks?

Don’t panic…the good news is that not all sites are vulnerable from such attacks, generally older more established sites with substance and authority can survive without experiencing too much loss.
New sites or those with few links and little authority can be easily impacted so the need for regular monitoring is vital to avoid having to go through the process of recovering from a formal penalty.

How to protect your site from negative SEO attack

Prevention is always better than cure so it is essential to build into your month enough time to monitor your link profile. Google Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, Majestic and Moz , all offer a method to monitor the links being added to your site. When you have a list transpose onto an excel spread sheet and start manually checking against previous month. Personally I like to separate links by colour coding, green -healthy, orange – suspicious, red – toxic.  This process can be extremely time consuming but it is important, look for the anchor text used, quite often spammers are lazy and use simple keywords which we all know is outdated. Act quickly and use the Disavow Tool, but be careful, ideally you want all your links to be green and healthy but suspicious links may look spammy but can carry valuable link juice.


With the cost of quality SEO increasing and the value of page 1 positions increasingly important there will be some who want to see you fall. Insure you site is not vulnerable by following simple housekeeping.  For information on how NetTonic can assist with website audit or penalty recovery call today 01234 261385

A great article was published by the guys at KissmetricsHow To Protect Your Website From Negative SEO

Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Managing Director of Nettonic Ltd a Bedford based digital marketing company specialising in helping businesses to improve their online brand awareness. Linkedin

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