Here is how to avoid negative SEOThe internet is a very popular place and one that has an increasing emphasis on high quality, SEO orientated content. However SEO practices have to be conducted carefully and there are many possible negative variations that a business should avoid.

It’s worth noting that SEO comes in three different flavours. There’s black hat, grey hat, and white hat practices. It’s important to avoid the first two and focus instead on the third. Black and grey hat options are likely to get a business into trouble with the increasingly powerful search engine Google.

But avoiding negative SEO practices isn’t always a simple task. Instead it can be a time consuming issue and one that can cause headaches to many businesses online. Negative SEO can affect any business too and some big names have recently fallen foul of Google’s SEO etiquette.

In fact negative SEO practices can ensure that a business drops in Google’s search rankings – something that can take a lot of time and effort to rectify. Unnatural links caused the website Rap Genius to fall in Google’s rankings so considerably that it stopped appearing top of the page for its own name.

Even Mozilla isn’t immune and in 2013 it found itself being penalised for a single page of user generated content deemed by Google to be too “spammy.” Mozilla removed the page in question but not before Google punished the browser creator by dropping it in its search rankings.

But to give Google its due it does state that any activities outside of its Webmaster Guidelines that are considered as “black hat SEO” will be penalised. So, good SEO practices are advised but for the uninitiated it can be difficult to determine exactly what they are.

In a bid to help you, to ensure that you rank well for your keywords, and ideally to make sure that you don’t get punished for badly devised content, here is a guide to avoid negative SEO.

Remember Google’s algorithms

Google wants to keep tabs on content posted within its search engine and to do so it has a series of complicated algorithms. These are updated often but they’re all designed to prevent black hat SEO tactics. This doesn’t always work and there have been plenty of times where companies have used questionable tactics to drive huge amounts of traffic to specific websites.

However, back in 2012 Google started to enforce its own particular brand of web justice. The company introduced an algorithm update dubbed Penguin and its effect was a noticeable drop in website rankings for those utilising dodgy SEO practices – or black hat SEO.

As of 2014 there have been three penguin updates. This has quickly started to close the ‘loopholes’ that allowed black hat tactics to slip beneath the radar. There’s no place anymore for negative SEO tactics and businesses need to be aware of this to avoid being punished.

Preventing negative SEO

The old saying, “prevention is better than the cure” is a valid one in this context. You need to ensure that your business is following good practices when it comes to its SEO efforts and avoid any potential future controversies. However there are times when competitors can target your company and its websites with negative SEO tactics.

This can be hard to prevent but there are some approaches that can help you avoid much of the problems associated with competitor (or your own) bad SEO practices.

Check your backlinks

Checking your links often and consistently is important. Doing this means that you can discover if a competitor is targeting you with bad backlinks and you can alleviate that issue early, before it becomes a problem.

There’s no way that Google can know that the thousands of spammy back links on your site came from a competitor. If you’re the target then you run the risk of the consequences – be vigilant and monitor your back links frequently.

Tell tales – report negative SEO practices

If you encounter negative SEO practices or suspect that you’re being targeted maliciously, then tell Google. Google has a new tool called Disavow and it’s an effective tool for reporting any suspicious activities.

Using this tool allows a business to report the suspicious activity easily and it ensures that a business can avoid the penalties associated with negative SEO practices. If you report the links then when Google assesses the site it can eliminate them and maintain your sites search engine standing.

Good SEO practices can have a positive effect on your website. They often involve a number of things like generating high quality content and linking to reputable and relevant websites.

If your business is doing it right (white hat) then it has nothing to worry about when it comes to black or grey hat SEO practices. Keep doing what you’re doing and monitor back links carefully. Don’t fall foul of competitors that don’t play by the rules.