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Negative SEO. What to do when your site has been attacked?

6 minutes of reading
Negative SEO. What to do when your site has been attacked?
Category SEO

The internet can be a double-edged sword. While it has opened up countless opportunities for businesses to reach customers and generate income, it has also created opportunities for malicious actors to attack websites and businesses with the aim of damaging their online presence. Negative SEO is one such tactic used by these malicious actors to damage a website’s ranking in search engines. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what negative positioning is and how you can identify and respond to attacks on your website.


Two faces of SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a form of digital marketing that helps websites and content rank higher in search engine results. It’s a way to get more organic traffic to a website or page. SEO is divided into two distinct categories: White Hat and Black Hat strategies.

First one involves optimizing content and sites in ways that are seen as acceptable by search engine standards. This type of optimization uses ethical techniques and strategies to increase rankings and visibility in the SERPs. Black Hat SEO, on the other hand, refers to unethical techniques and tactics used to manipulate rankings or get an advantage in SERPs. This includes creating low-quality backlinks, keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden text, and doorway pages. Negative practices can also include hacking sites, stealing content, or launching distributed denial of service attacks.

The goal of negative SEO is to harm competitors, either by taking their rankings or decreasing their visibility. When it comes to detecting negative practices, the signs can be very subtle. In that case, let’s dive into it!

Google’s position in the context of unethical positioning practices

Google is one of the leading search engines, and as such, it takes unethical positioning practices very seriously. It has implemented various measures to detect, prevent, and combat negative SEO attacks. Google’s tools are constantly being updated in order to detect unethical practices. For this purpose, it uses the help of network robots and algorithms.


Regardless of whether you knowingly use Black Hat SEO techniques or are a victim of them, the search engine treats you equally. We are talking about penalties: filters and bans imposed for keyword stuffing, posting low-quality content and links, buying links, using farms, hiding content, and more.


When your website is the target of a negative SEO attack, the consequences can be far-reaching. Penalties can lead to reduced organic traffic and visibility for your website. This can have a devastating effect on your business as it can severely limit your potential customers’ ability to find you.

Moreover, if the Black Hat SEO techniques are successful in manipulating search engine rankings, it can result in lost revenues due to lost sales opportunities. Additionally, if the attack is done maliciously and with the intent to damage your reputation. In the most severe cases, your site may be completely removed from the index.

Attacks on websites

When it comes to negative SEO, attacks on websites can take many forms. These include malicious links, spammy content, and malicious code injections.

Malicious links are those placed by a competitor in order to lower the ranking of your website. Spammy content is usually generated by automated bots that post low quality content on your site, which can lead to a lower ranking in search engines. Finally, malicious code injections are when an attacker injects malicious code into your website, which can cause damage to your site or even shut it down completely.

If your website has been attacked, it’s important to take action quickly in order to protect your website and your reputation.

How to protect your website from negative SEO?

How to check if your site is infected?

If you suspect your site may be under attack from negative SEO, there are several steps you can take to identify and respond to the attack.

Check your rankings

The most obvious way to check your rankings is to use Google search, as this will give you a good idea of how your site is currently performing. If you’re seeing a sudden drop in rankings, it could indicate that your site has been targeted with a negative SEO attack.

You can also use tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush to track your keyword rankings. These tools provide an even more detailed overview of your website’s position in the search results, allowing you to spot changes quickly. They can also help you identify the keywords that are being targeted, giving you an idea of which pages have been affected.

Review your site’s traffic

It’s important to keep track of your website’s traffic on a regular basis so that you can spot suspicious activity right away. Another way to monitor traffic is to set up alerts when there are unexpected changes. This will help you stay on top of any potential issues and quickly address them before they become a major problem.

Search for unnatural links

Unnatural links are any kind of links pointing to your website from an untrustworthy source, such as spammy websites, link farms, or unrelated content. To identify them, start by checking your backlinks through Google Search Console or Ahrefs. If you see any suspicious backlinks, contact the webmaster and ask them to remove them. If they don’t cooperate, you can try disavowing the link by submitting a disavow file to Google Search Console.

Check for duplicate content

Duplicate content can be used to confuse search engines and lower your website’s rankings. Attackers can copy your content, such as articles and product descriptions, and post it on their own sites. As a result, search engines may think that you are plagiarizing other websites and penalize you for it. To check for duplicate content, use plagiarism detection tools such as Copyscape or Grammarly. You can also use Google Search Console to find pages with identical or similar titles or meta descriptions.


  • Implement secure authentication for user accounts. Set up strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and other security measures to limit access to sensitive data and prevent unauthorized changes.
  • Perform regular backups. Backing up all the data and content on your website can help you restore it in the event of an attack.
  • Use antivirus software to detect any malicious software or activities targeting your website.
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Wrapping up

Negative SEO can be a serious problem for your website, but it is possible to protect yourself from attacks. If you do find yourself the victim of a negative SEO attack, be sure to react quickly in order to minimize any damage. All search engines frown upon unethical practices and will take action against sites that are engaging in them. Keep in mind that prevention is always better than a cure.

Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
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