Negative SEO: Definition, techniques and protection

Natural referencing, or SEO, is a crucial area for the visibility of a website. However, malicious practices called “negative SEO” can tarnish the reputation of a site and harm its SEO.

 Designed by Freepik 

What is negative SEO?

Negative SEO, or negative SEO, brings together malicious techniques aimed at degrade the positioning of a competing website in search engines.

Objectives of negative SEO:

  • Decrease visibility of the targeted website in search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Encourage a penalty from Google, which could go as far as removing the website from the indexes.
  • Damage e-reputation of the site and negatively influence user perception.
  • Gain a competitive advantage by destroying a competitor's online presence.


Negative SEO techniques

duplicate content

Original, quality content is an essential element of SEO. It represents a negative SEO technique aimed at copying and distributing the content of a website on other websites to reduce its value and authority.

Examples of duplicate content techniques:

  • Copying and publishing targeted website content on other websites to diminish its value and authority.
  • Creation of mirror websites with the content of the original website.
  • Content scraping and publishing on third-party platforms.

Consequences of duplicate content:

  • Decreased visibility of the original website in the SERPs.
  • Risk of penalty from Google for duplicate content.
  • Deterioration of the website's e-reputation.

How to protect yourself from duplicate content:

  • Create original, quality content.
  • Monitor the web to detect the publication of your content on other websites.
  • Contact the webmasters of websites that publish your content without authorization and ask them to remove it.
  • Use content protection tools like Copyscape.

Site hacking

The security of a website is a crucial element for its SEO. Hacking is a negative SEO technique aimed at exploiting the security vulnerabilities of a website to degrade it or make it inaccessible.

Examples of hacking techniques:

  • Injection of malicious code on the website to modify its content, redirect it to other websites or make it inaccessible.
  • Theft of sensitive and personal data.
  • Removal of the website.

Consequences of hacking:

  • Decreased visibility of the website in the SERPs.
  • Risk of penalty from Google for hacked website.
  • Deterioration of the website's e-reputation.
  • Loss of sensitive data

Fake negative reviews

User trust is an important factor for a website's SEO. Fake negative reviews are a Negative SEO technique aimed at discrediting a website and its products or services among Internet users.

Examples of fake negative review techniques:

  • Publication of negative comments and reviews on the targeted website, its products/services and its pages on review platforms, social networks or forums.
  • Creation of fake user profiles to publish negative reviews.
  • Use of bots to generate artificial and automated reviews.

Consequences of false negative reviews:

  • Deterioration of the website's e-reputation and user perception.
  • Loss of confidence of potential customers.
  • Decreased website traffic and conversions.

How to protect yourself from fake negative reviews:

  • Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews on relevant platforms.
  • Respond to negative reviews in a professional and constructive manner.
  • Report suspicious reviews to the review platforms in question.
  • Monitor the online reputation of the website and brands via monitoring tools.

Abusive denunciation

Search engines like Google rely on user reports to identify websites violating their rules. Bad reporting is a Negative SEO technique aimed at unfairly reporting a website to Google for non-existent violations.

Examples of abusive reporting techniques:

  • Reporting the website to Google for spam, malicious content, or other fictitious violations.
  • Abuse of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) system to remove legitimate content from the targeted website.
  • Contact the website's partners to encourage them to boycott it based on false accusations.

Consequences of abusive denunciation:

  • Google investigation may result in wasted time and resources.
  • Risk of unjustified penalty by Google.
  • Deterioration of relations with potential business partners.

How to protect yourself from abusive reporting:

  • Provide quality content that complies with Google Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Document and maintain evidence of the legitimacy of website content.
  • Cooperate with Google in the event of an investigation following an abusive report.


Conclusion on negative SEO

Negative SEO is a real threat to the SEO of a website. It is important to know the techniques used and to put protective measures in place to protect against them. In the event of an attack, it is crucial to react quickly and follow best practices to minimize the damage and restore the website's reputation.

Regularly monitor your SEO and e-reputation to detect signs of a Negative SEO attack. If you suspect malicious activity, do not hesitate to consult an SEO specialist for assistance.




Esteban Irschfeld, SEO Consultant at UX-Republic