How to Recover From Negative SEO

dark side seo

Did you know that your competitors could hurt your search engines rankings? By doing malicious things in order to decrease your search engine rankings?

This is called negative SEO.

Before we go into how to deal with negative SEO, let’s go over a few ways it can happen to your business.

  • Malicious attacks on your site – this is when someone hacks into your site, modifies your robots.txt file and blocks Google, or injects spammy content and links into your web pages.
  • Building bad links – this is when someone builds bad links to your website. For example, if your competitor paid thousands of adult and gambling sites to link back to you, eventually your rankings will go down.
  • Spam reports – if people feel a search result from your site is irrelevant or you are abusing Google’s webmaster guidelines, they can report you to Google. If a handful of people report your site, Google will look to see if you are doing anything wrong such as unnatural link building.

If you are wondering if negative SEO has happened to your site, there are two simple ways to determine this:

  1. If you have a notice in Google Webmaster Tools for either malware notification or unnatural link building, there is a good chance negative SEO has taken place (assuming you didn’t do any unnatural SEO to your own site).
  2. If your analytics data is reporting a huge drop in search traffic, there is a good chance some negative SEO happened (assuming you didn’t do anything to break Google’s webmaster guidelines).

Once you’ve determined something has happened, here’s how you go about fixing it:

How to fix malicious attacks

I’ve actually had this one happen to my personal site, It took me months to figure it out because I wasn’t checking my Google Webmaster Tools account frequently enough.


Although the attackers modified something on your site, the first thing you need to do is secure your server.

Reversing the changes they have made won’t solve anything unless you first close holes in your security. Otherwise, they will just log back in and make the malicious changes again.

You can hire affordable companies like Sitelock to remove any malware from your server and lock it down. Or you can switch your hosting provider to someone like WPengine as they have security experts on staff who will fight off malware.

If you want to try to avoid attacks, stay away from cheap hosting providers like GoDaddy as they don’t have strict security requirements. Also, make sure you update all of the software on your server because using old WordPress versions can increase the chances of an attack.

Once you fix your security holes, make sure you:

  • Go through your robots.txt file to ensure you aren’t blocking Google.
  • Double check your source code to ensure that you aren’t linking out to any spammy sites.
  • Double check the content on your site to ensure that you aren’t using any spammy words related to the gambling, adult, or pharmaceutical industries.

How to remove spammy backlinks

Through services like Ahrefs and Open Site Explorer, you can see who links back to your site. All you have to do is enter your URL, and you’ll get back a list of results that looks something like this:


The links that are too rich in anchor text or are irrelevant will typically be the ones you want to remove.

To get rid of them, email the webmaster, requesting to remove the link(s). In many cases, you’ll find that people will ignore your email and keep the link up.

To increase your odds of getting a link removed, ask your law firm for permission to use their letterhead when emailing link removal requests. What I’ve found is that when the link removal request comes with a law firm’s logo, you are three times more likely to get the link removed as very few people like dealing with lawyers.

As for the links you can’t get removed, you’ll have to disavow them. Through Google Webmaster Tools, you can manually tell Google to not count specific links.


Now, I know what you are thinking. Why can’t I just disavow all of my bad links and skip sending emails to people asking them to remove the links? Well, Google wants you to first ask people to remove the links before using the disavow tool.

I’ve seen webmasters skip the emailing part and start disavowing all of their bad links. It’s rare that their sites climb back in the rankings when they do this.

So, make sure you email websites to remove the bad links before using the disavow tool.

Spam reports

The beautiful part about spam reports is that search engines typically ignore them if you aren’t doing any black or grey hat SEO. If your site naturally ranks and you haven’t tried manipulating your rankings, there is a good chance you’ll keep your positioning.

You have to worry only if you broke Google’s webmaster guidelines when optimizing your site. When they get too many spam complaints, typically they will do a deep dive into your site to see if you did anything wrong. For example, if you built unnatural links or you’re cloaking, there is a good chance you will get penalized.

If you are doing white hat SEO, you don’t have to worry much about spam reports. If you are using black hat SEO, you will have to reverse those changes in order to get back in Google’s good graces.

The good thing about spam reports is that they will rarely affect your rankings compared to the other two negative SEO tactics described above. If you are following the rules, you won’t have to worry about this one.


Negative SEO exists, and the best thing you can do to fight it is follow the rules and produce good content. Sites with exceptionally good content tend to have more authority links. Typically, if you have a lot of these authority links, they can outweigh any junk links going back to your site.

You can’t control people building bad links to your site, but you can control how authoritative your site is. Focus on building high quality links as this will maintain your rankings even if someone links to your site 100 times from different adult sites.

I’ve seen it myself…Although I don’t approve of this tactic, I know people who have linked to Forbes from adult sites in order to tank Forbes’ ranking. At the end of the day, nothing happened to Forbes. It maintained its ranking as its authority links outweigh junk links.

Google’s algorithm is smart, and it is only getting better. Their goal is to make things like negative SEO hard to accomplish. Hopefully, in the long run, you won’t have to worry much about it.

So, how else can you make sure your site continually ranks high?


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this tip… Will keep on my webmaster tool even though i don’t have much visitors and enough content….

  2. Hey,

    What about Unnatural links warning from Google? Please write on this too!

    How to recover from Unnatural links warning from Google?

    Looking forward.

  3. Razvan Gavrilas :

    Quick intro in the negative SEO concept 😉

    Problem with negative seo is that it rarely works. On fresh sites where Google can not yet figure out who is doing the link building yes it might, but on older sites it rarely does.

    If negative seo is done with totally unrelated terms it won’t affect your site also. Check this in-depth analysis I wrote here on the LastMinute suspect Negative SEO attach ( )

    The best thing to do if you are into SEO, is STAY ALERT & TRACK 🙂 [not everything but] the VITAL metrics that could affect your ranks:
    unnatural links velocity
    important links
    big ranks switches
    and … competitor rankings and links.


  4. Harleena Singh :

    Neil, this is really bad and scary. I feel there must be a permission or verification-based system to put the links of other sites on your own site, don’t you think so? It will solve lot of such problems.

    I also read somewhere that all reported referrer links to your site are not genuine. I use Jetpack site stats and sometimes find that there’s no trace of my site link on a page, yet I get its mention as a referrer on my site stats. I wonder how and why does that happen?

    I did see a huge drop in my search traffic on Google Analytics many a times and reported that to Google too. I’d no idea that could be due to negative SEO. Thanks for enlightening about this issue.

    I think you should make a target of linking to at least 5 unique authoritative sites per day to keep it outweighed and let your site continually rank high, what do you think? The other best option is to create viral content which people are tempted to mention on their site, like they do for yours. 🙂

    But you got a great point – we need to make our site more authoritative to fight negative SEO.

    Thanks a ton for this important information.

    ~ Harleena

    • Harleena, I think if you follow all the guidelines and constantly monitor your links you should be fine. You bring up a great point about authoritative sites. Keep up the great work 🙂

  5. Casey Stubbs :


    Thanks for this article, I have suffered an extreme attack against my site with Negative SEO and it has hurt my rankings. I will be following this article to help me recover from this attack.

  6. Hello neil

    Thanks for such a quick & detailed info about negative seo. Will look forward for more articles like this from you 🙂

  7. There is no way we can prevent unwanted spammy links,as you mentioned it affected as well,The best thing we can do is build trustrank and authority,I’m sure negative seo does not effect sites like quicksprout:-)..

  8. Peter Kortvel :

    Because of the authority you can’t harm your big competitors but if they wan’t they can harm any new competition a lot at least for a few months…

  9. Rajat Kulshrestha :

    I was not having any idea about the negetive SEO. :-/
    Thanks alot Neil sir for writing and sharing this article with us. 🙂

  10. Hi Neil,

    This is a most useful guide for newbies. All these tips you provided to regain from negative SEO are great. I strongly recommend to shift your website to WPengine is a great choice and value for money or do it yourself guide using this post.

  11. nice information neil, now a days many webmaster use negative seo as mass low quality backlinks to their competitor’s sites and remove their competition. now it’s a good ideas to recover from them.

  12. Prashant Gorule :

    Hey Neil,

    Thanks for your suggestion. I would like to know, how you see nofollow links that are coming from top quality websites. I know it wont help in search engine ranking, but think from other way. If your website link is available on forbes or cnn with good quality content and from that content thousands of readers are visiting to your website then your website ranking will climb high in search engine ranking in a natural way. The unique visitors will boost your website authority rating. Google will left with no choice than ranking your website. It will be the safest way to build a quality backlinks. What is your opinion on this?

  13. Thanks for the great advice, checking my site now with Ahrefs and will definitely monitor my webmaster tools more often.

  14. Jenny Six Figure Income Girl :

    Hey Neil,
    This is really very helpful guide for all. Last year one of my site was hit by Google because of spammy backlinks. some one did it. But now i recovered it. Ahrefs is best for backlink track. Anyway thanks a lot.


  15. Indeed negative SEO exists. We are very small SEO firm from India and with our limited exposure and resources we have seen and experienced many negative SEO for different clients. We have noticed that mostly local businesses where competition is very tough negative SEO is happening.
    Another irritating thing is that we have heard that webmasters/owners ask money to remove links from their websites. Thankfully it did not happen with us yet.
    Most of the time it is really difficult to contact the site owners and even if contacted they are most reluctant to entertain you or your repetitive emails.
    Google disavow is a life saver if you face negative SEO. We have used this webmaster tool successfully several times and all the time the malicious and spammy links which got built by competitor sites got removed from our link profile.

    One question: Why did the author not mentioned “links to your site” section on Google Webmaster tool? apart from Ahref or Opensiteexplorer you can check your backlinks from Google Webmaster – Traffic- Links to your site section too.

    • Soumya, Me also part of an SEO firm and we have came across couple of Negative SEOs. Few months before one of our top ranking site for highly competitive site had this issue. Another SEO company put our top keywords in some Porn and Viagra selling sites as anchor text links pointing to our site. And we lost our rankings overnight!!! (we were able to recover through some non SEO methods though)

    • That’s a good point. I just forgot to mention it as I don’t use Webmaster Tools to see my backlinks that often. But it is a good tool that should be used.

      • Yes this is really dangerous, tiresome and irritating when your competitor can’t compete you on face and try to do something behind your back to drag you down on SERP.
        Google Webmaster is a wonderful tool which helps us to check and find the link profile of our client’s sites. Though we only followed the guideline and used Google Disavow only after all emails and phone calls.

  16. Manish Patel :

    Hi, Neil

    Really awesome article from you but I request you to kindly check your site . Still found threat on your site in .js file. I get warned in firefox.

    Thanks for your awesome article.

    • Not again… I really need to switch off of Godaddy. They just suck as a host.

      • You have mentioned WPengine as an alternative host. Are there any others you can recommend that are affordable to a small business? Thanks!!

  17. Mainak Halder :

    Neil, the negative SEO thing is so scary. Site owners spend so much time and effort in optimizing their sites and making it authoritative but if someone pays to do negative SEO of their competitor, isn’t that too bad?

    It’s like getting hit by a knife at your back by your competitor when they can’t compete with you face to face.

  18. Vasile Mironeasa :

    Thank you mister Neil !

    You are a great soul . Thanks for the whole your effort !

    My respect to you !

  19. Thanks neil! Very simple and informative post.

  20. Hey Neil – Thanks for the great article! Had a question about the webmaster outreach portion. I was working with a client who said the same thing “lets skip the emailing web masters part and just disavow everything”. I wasn’t sure what to tell them as far as a justification for doing it, other than “google wants you to”.

    How would Google know whether you had made that attempt or not, especially if all of the emails are unsuccessful? I know that when filing a reconsideration request, you need to document those efforts. But on a straight disavow, there is nowhere to detail that the emails had been attempted or not.

    Do they just want to see some sort of recency of removed links?

    Not sure there is a black and white answer to this, but curious if you are aware of how Google tracks that.


    • They look to see if bad backlinks have been removed. If they are all still up they know you haven’t made an effort to email website owners and try to get them to remove the links.

      This is easy for them to do as they crawl the web…

  21. Olu Isaac Tayo :

    Great tips and obeservations you’ve pointed out Neil, thanks for sharing

  22. How do you figure a website being hacked as an example of Negative SEO? You won’t lose your rankings if you site has malware on it. Sure you will lose traffic and business, but that is not an example of Negative SEO. You are talking about apples and oranges.

    • Hi Neil,

      Interesting timing for your post, because yesterday I identified that our website had been hacked.


      The malicious attack to our website was identified because it tanked our rankings. Which led me straight to Google to do my investigating.

      I could see in the SERPs that our meta description was advertising pharmaceuticals products. Upon further review I could see that the Google cache version of these pages was showing link lists to all sorts of websites promoting pharmaceuticals. However, the actual webpages and source code didn’t show any of these links.

      I was able to locate the malicious code on our server and remove it. Then I re-submitted the affected webpages to Google’s index and updated the Google cache as well by removing these URLs from it due to content updates.

      All of this spammy content being pulled onto our website from the malicious code tanked our rankings. Although the hacker probably wasn’t intending to perform Negative SEO, from my perspective as the webmaster negative SEO was the result.

      I understand why you would say they are apples and oranges, but malicious attacks can result in negative SEO results.

      • I have seen sites rank with a virus, malware and having been hacked. I have yet to see a website lose its ranking for being offline at all. One of the sites was contacted about, had the virus sitting on it for months. They were ranking in the top 10 in Google. the meta description warned that the site was a known malware site. They were not removed the from serps.

        • Hi Chuck,

          My experience has been completely opposite. Our rankings recovered when I checked SEM Rush this morning after removing the infected files yesterday.


    • Yes you can rank, but typically not as high. From what I have seen, most sites see a slight decrease in rankings. 🙁

  23. Husein Yuseinov :

    From my experience in this field, the negative SEO niche after the Google’s Penguin Update is expanding and its followers are multiplying.

    Since I’ve seen quite a few examples of successful bad linking (negative SEO) and experience it’s effects on my own. I think Google should take immediate steps to address the problem.

    It’s true that for an old authority websites that have a good amount of natural authority backlinks and good content the chance to get affected by unnatural links is almost 0. But for new websites is not the case, especially if the bad links are built thematically but from spam or low quality resources.

    Here I’m asking Google, what’s the fault of the website owners, and why, after such intervention by the detractors, the site owner must spend sleepless nights sending emails to owners of specific sites to remove these links. Who hasn’t dealt with this kind of work doesn’t know how much efforts it requires. A more important question is why you need to do it if you are not responsible of it.

    Assuming the real life examples, I don’t think the things should work like that.

    I think one general measure from Google can put an end to this problem, and it is the disregard the value of bad links entirely.

    I have much more to say about this, but I think you’ll understand my point.

    • Hussein, thanks for providing these valuable insights. I am sure they will be helpful to the community. I look forward to hearing more from you 🙂

  24. I have had this issue in the past with some of the sites that I’ve ran. These tips should help if I ever run into trouble again, thanks Neil!

  25. My suggestion is to steer clear of unknown or small, directory sites. Or altogether. There are several directory site scripts people use, but one in general (the largest – I wont mention it here) that allows the directory site owner to scrape web listings for certain keywords. This fills the categories within their directory. The owner of the scraped link has no idea it’s happened and when they try to disavow.. .normally a $25 – $300 fee is involved to get it removed. It’s happened to me several times for clients when attempting to remove links.

    I’ve gone so far as to write the author of the script to ask for a change, but alarmingly, that’s the selling point. There are thousands of these junky directories laying about, I stay with the known directories for local citations only (YB, Angies, etc), its cleaner that way.

    Lastly, prior “SEO’s” are often problematic as well. The ones that believe any link is good and using scripts to populate forums, blogs, etc are the end all be all to link building.
    If you are paying an SEO for work, ask for a monthly report – especially a link report.

  26. Nice article as usual. I got links from 200 trash websites (PR 0 or n/a) in one week recently on a Adsense website. Any chance to find who did it ?

  27. Thanks, Neil – so needed some info on that topic as i in the process of launching my own brand new biz

  28. An informative post, as usual. Negative SEO can strike at anytime, to anyone. But with quick thinking and a resourceful team, it can be resolved.

    Thanks Neil!

  29. Jeff Ostroff :


    It also helps to keep a working spreadsheet of all the URLS you identify that need to be removed, and make the URLS clickable. and as you get the links removed, you can shade the cell green for “finished”. Also you can come back and check the list every month or so, as most of the sites are small and eventually shut down. Once they do shut down, submit the URL to Google’s URL Removal Tool.

  30. I have came across this bad link issue before, and let me say, its not as easy as being said. Even 1 out of 10 Webmasters won’t replay your request of link removal…
    And you can’t expect them to do if they themselves have put those links as part of negative SEO…
    And this disavow thing, I have submitted a request 3 months back with a list of around 70 links and no response so far from Google.

    • Jithin, it takes time, patience and persistence but you will eventually get them removed. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  31. Great content as always. Thanks.

    Neil, I was interested in reading the casestudy reports in and eventually found both case study links are broken.

  32. I was just reading your article about Negitive SEO.

    Great Content..

    But i don’t have any issue which you were talking about in your article. I had good rank for my site in Google but suddenly i lost everything of site after New updates of Google. Pages has been indexed but not rank.
    What was the issue?

    • You have to back track. Look at the date you were affected and look up the Google update that took place around then. Based on that you can figure out what the update affected site wise and then make the appropriate changes.

  33. Thanks Neil, another on point blog post for business owners to take note of! No infographic for this one?! 😉

  34. Hi Very informative post. Thanks to bring us this informative guide. Now, we will regularly check our site/blog on Webmaster Tools. It’s really help us to check if it our site get harmed from hackers or malwares. Thanks for sharing this good and very important information with us 🙂

  35. Ankit Pandya :

    After Reading you Informative Blog I conclude one thing that We should keep in touch with our site’s Webmaster tool and Regularly check our Backlinks

  36. Neil,

    Thanks for this information. I came across this issue once when someone hacked my .htaccess and generated a lot of useless pages and linked them with some spammy sites. I have emailed those site owners to remove my links from their site, and disvowed one domain too. Is there anything else I should do?

  37. Nikola Gjakovski :

    I’m not fighting for the throne with my website but I will check the webmaster tools from time to time 🙂 I didn’t know people send adult sites and gambling sites to destroy your SEO rankings … I thought that we all kind of stick together and go up, but it didn’t turn that way now 😛

  38. Great wisdom here. Thanks for sharing.

  39. Neil you are a true boss! Cool article and man you have a lot of pop ups! It must work to build your list LOL. I’m adding more to my site now! Thanks for doing this for free 🙂

  40. Are there any plugins out there to help protect user submission websites other than captcha?

    Thanks Neil for the article!

  41. Naveen kulkarni :

    Good article Neil,

    It’s sad that some folks indulge in doing negative SEO for their competetors. If they spend same amount of time in building quality links for thier own sites, they naturally outsmart other sites !!

  42. Steve Counsell :

    Well this is a ridiculous premise. Matt Cutts has said several times that your competition could try to hurt your site rank y creating bad links but that’s not really going to work.

    If negative SEO actually worked it’d simply break the internet in terms of search. Imagine, I’m new on the web a want to rank. I’ll do all the good things that get me to page 2 or so and then spend all my time on negative SEO. That would get me to the page 1 top position.

    What a simply idiotic idea.

    The notion that Google would actually take notice of “Bad Links” is a bit of scaremongering especially if you as a good website owner have been doing good work building great content that attracts natural links.

    I see the whole premise of the Bad Link thing but I do believe that Google is far smarter than that.

    My opinion on the Disavow Tool is that it’s a way for Google to shortcut the process in finding out who’s been a naughtily little link spammer. notice they’ve never given anyone a full list of what they believe are bad links.

    Of course the process of begin HACKED and having tour site manipulated can have an adverse effect on your Google position.

    • Sadly I have seen a few sites being affected by negative SEO through bad links. It sounds hard to believe and at first I didn’t believe it, but the data showed that they were screwed over. And there weren’t the only case I came across. 🙁

  43. Thanks for alerting me Neil.
    At least for me there is lot of work to do now.

  44. How do we know that your site being hacked was a Negative SEO attacked and not vulnerability issues. You did state that your site was hosted with Godaddy. They are notorious having bad server security. You could have have an outdated version of WP and/or plugin. Its a major leap in thinking that you were personally targeted by a hacker trying to sabotage you in an attempt to help boost their client’s rankings or business.

  45. Thanks for this information. This isn’t something I’d heard about before. Definitely will book mark this page. I’m already subscribed to your email address so look forward to more valuable tips.

  46. Great article!

    Definitely take the time to set up WMT and monitor for manual actions. We saw a manual action in WMT for a client and were able to disavow the links in question and have the manual action removed within a week. The client’s rankings improved as a result of the removed manual action penalty.

    Keep it up and thanks for sharing.

  47. Avinash Kumar :

    Was there any Google Algorithm update yesterday? My blog got affected and all of a sudden the site rankings in SERP dropped. The Google ad serving was also disabled to my site.

  48. Bhavesh Patel :

    Hey Neil, Thanks for sharing such a information. That’s really helpful to everybody. 🙂

  49. Yogesh Gangawat :

    Hey I think after got algorithmic penalty due to unnatural links and heavy spam, it is almost unrecoverable penalization.Because i have tried to invoke penalty from one of penalize website but i did not get good response there in terms of ranks and all. I have removed all spammy/unnatural links as well and still try to do something from last 7 months to invoke the penalization.

    Can you help me please what do i do?

    • After you fixed the backlinks, focus on building authority backlinks that aren’t rich in anchor text. I’ve found that to speed up the recovery process.

  50. It is really very helpful blog. I do know all about the disavow but as you said that people ignore the mailing part i also do the same as don’t know the exact reason behind it.
    But now I will like to follow complete process for my website.

    I have one query, My website, is very old domain, On this already one seo company worked but what i face ranking broken down after the penguin update.

    I did disavow by myself and again start white hat seo only (doing myself) but main issue is the big ranking fracturation. This is the mail point of my worry.

    I am doing ethnic seo only than What can be the reason behind it. How i can Improve it. Please suggest. It is very big issue for me.

    • Try mailing with legal letter head, it should improve the process and cause more people to respond and remove the link. That should help a lot…

  51. Hi Neil,

    lately I got a number of link removal requests from guest article authors (asking me to remove their link in their author box). They said that Google deemed their link unnatural. The guest articles were genuine and none of them was paid.

    Any idea of what effect my blog has from being said “hosting unnatural links”? Any suggestions of how I can recover from the side effects?

    Thank you!

  52. James Andrew :

    I just removed low quality backlinks through google’s webmaster tool(Disavow). I gor a message like your disavow link has been updated sucessfully. Backlinks are probably disavowed but there is no response from google. Please suggest me how to recover my site from google search result.

  53. 7 years ago a competitor hit my site using negative SEO via the bad links technique. That was when the search engines were still publishing on their webmaster guides that it wasn’t possible for a competitor to damage your rank. Not true! After publishing an open letter to Google, the situation resolved itself a few months later, but my site was akin to banned from Yahoo for several years. It wasn’t until last year that I was able to get into Bing.

    “…Sites with exceptionally good content tend to have more authority links.” I would have to say that is not necessarily true where adult entertainment sites are concerned. Sites that are mature in nature are never going to get a link from any newspaper or publication even if the article is about that particular adult site.

    • Cheryl, that’s awesome. Glad to hear you were able to recover. This is a great story and I am glad you shared it 🙂

  54. Thank Neil for sharing this. I straight away looked for this in webmaster tools but could not find it, then went google to find it available separately, could you update the above webmasters tool link to

    Thanks again for this covering this concept which everyone should keep an eye on.

  55. Excellent blog. According to Google’s Webmaster Tools and this is a great post, i am realy looking about this

  56. Hi,
    Its not been so long since I started doing SEO for my site. According to me, I’ve done everything quite right to rank my site. Some comments, some guest posting, bookmarking, social sharing etc.. But its still not ranked. I am not able to understand what might be the reason. Can you tell me some possible reasons of this and the solutions too.

  57. Ivan Widjaya :

    That’s what Google Webmaster Tools is for. It allows you to remedy the situation while there is still something you can do about it. From here, it is up to you on how you should act.

  58. Aditya Chintha :

    Wow bro !! You have a very unique way in making the strategy to deliver the content to visitors. Hope I will would have a Blogging Relationship with you, so that i can learn new things from you!!

    Thank you,
    Aditya Chintha

  59. Negative SEO sucks, I tried disavowing links then ranking improved a bit but still trying to fully recover the site. Thanks for this guide.

  60. Anand Mistry :


    I have read entire blog post and come to know about few solution which may help me to save my website during Negative SEO. Here, I want to share my experience and live data regarding Negative SEO.

    Someone is creating bad inbound link to my website. And, I come to know about it via Google webmaster tools.

    Honestly, I have implemented certain solutions like Google disavow tool, contact to certain websites and many more.

    But, I can see certain impact on organic visits. Organic visits are going down since last two months.

    And, I am thinking, These bad inbound links are behind it.

    You can visit following URLs to know more about it. Can you please share your experience on it? How can we save my website from Negative SEO?

    • I haven’t had the chance to go through the links, but you don’t have much of a drop in search traffic. A lot of those fluctuations are natural… look for massive drops such as 30 or 40%.

  61. Hi Neil,

    Really informative article and helped me a lot.

    My wordpress blog continuously facing malware attacks and spam code.

    I really want to know best hosting services with great security.

  62. Hi Neil,
    I’ve read several articles on here regarding recovery from negative SEO. I had a maleware attack in september2013 and regardless of everything I’ve tried, all the SEOs I’ve hired to help me recover, I haven’t been able to regain my page 1 ranking. I even had someone spend a lot of time cleaning my backlinks and submitting disavow thinking that was the problem. But the drop was immediately after a maleware attack which was cleaned up right away. I’m hoping you can shine a light on this. I’ve tried all other alternatives and usually find the best answers on this website.

    • Have you tried adding a lot more high quality content and build more links? As you grow more you should see your rankings climb higher, assuming you fixed all the malware issues.

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    and I’m looking for sometyhing unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  65. I of the best post I have read on negative SEO and I love but yes it’s possible for your competitors to hurt your hard earned rankings but I think the best way is to regularly moniter you backlink profile

  66. Great articles on negative SEO. What are your thoughts on shielded links (links that cannot be seen by Majestic, Ahref, OSE, etc.) except checking GWT and your logfiles?

  67. Hi Neil, I have had a negative SEO attack and there are around 3000 spam links pointing at my website. They are all from foreign websites so I am not sure how to get these removed just by emailing the site owners as they do not speak English. Should i just use Googles disaproved link tool?

  68. I just started a blog of mine and now I see how I am still missing a lot of things which I must research a bit about, I guess. By the way, at one of my blogs, I once got huge unusual traffic and couldn’t get what to do. I couldn’t have blocked certain IPs to browse my web because they were mostly from unique IPs. I don’t know how much it did harm but I simply removed the ads from my website. I didn’t have that much of traffic so there wasn’t much to observe then.
    Still, yeah, something now I must keep myself updated about. Thanks Neil !

    • Shubham, it sounds like you figured it out though 🙂 I often get weird traffic sources too — you just have to pin point where they are coming from.

      Let me know how your site continues to grow. I look forward to hearing more for you.

  69. Surprised,merchant asked , ” What was the Indian parrot’s message. When you bring the fish home allow the bag float into the tank for about fifteen minutes so that the fish can become acclimated toward the temperature along with p – H of the aquarium water. But even under these circumstances if would be a good idea to partly cover the cage while you are at work.

  70. I recently moved my website over to shopify from WordPress. Shortly before moving the site, and this is the main reason I did so, I was hit with a pharma hack. There were about 4,000 hidden pages of spam and I did not notice for a few months!

    There were also thousands of spammy back links pointed at my site as a result. But, they came from only a handful of domains. I used Google’s disavow tool on those links and hoped for the best.

    I didn’t get any warning about it all in webmaster tools, but I suppose it would have happened eventually. My rankings did not fall either.

    I paid to have the infection removed from the WordPress site, as I didn’t have the know how to do it myself. But, I could’t take a chance on it happening again. I’m happy with Shopify as it is great for ecommerce and has a decent blogging platform.

    • Rachael, it really is a great platform if you want sustained results.

      Glad you had a smooth transition as well. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  71. Thank you. When I made the transition I saw it as an opportunity to restructure my site to a large degree. Previously, I had hundreds of pages with only a few lines of text and a free download on each page. My ecommerce site was on a subfolder but linked from the “free” site.

    I did away with most of the free content, except for a few prominent pages and made my blog a real blog.

    I’ve so far hired two writers, that happen to be photographers (I sell downloads to photographers) and accomplished writers/bloggers. I pay them really well, which is how I was able to attract quality writers in the first place. One of them is a highly accomplished photographer with images in major magazines and articles written for B&H. The other is a published author, photographer and also won an award for best Australian blog a few years ago.

    I have plans for adding my own content as well, but due to kids and time constraints most of my time is put into product development at the moment.

    My products are all in the same site now and not separate.

    I am hoping that my new strategies will pay off over time with increased Google traffic and a fan base for the site.

    • Rachael, sounds like you are on the right track and have a lot of key elements in place.

      It’s vital to always mix it up and try new strategies — which you have def done!

  72. Hello Neil
    i am facing some serious issue with my website now a day
    Let me explain in each thing with exact dates

    2/12/15 my 40 days old website was doing quite good even i hit top of 2nd page on some of highest competition keyword for local market

    12/12/15 A hacker team named brown hacker team …hacked my website ( some days ago i found they list my website in the listed of hacked website by them) and this is making back-link to my website i can see it my webmaster

    13/12/15 we recovered from hack what from here true downfall start

    my ranking start going down and i start noticing some unknown back-links on my webmaster
    all these links was pointing to 404 page with my AVG antivirus program giving a warning message of HTML/Framer Threat

    and now this date i lost all my ranking

    Help me how to resolve it

    Any kind of help on this will be highly appricated

    • Log into Google Search Console. They will tell you if there are any viruses, hacks, warnings. If it is fixed, over time every thing will naturally be restored.

  73. I think Negative SEO increasing day by day . If i do hard work to get my website rank and someone easily do negative link building so my website will go down why ?

    We do hard work then also ask one by one spam website link owner to remove our links then do disavow link.

  74. Hi neil
    I had got some of the spammy backlinks on my website
    there were around 2000 Bad backlinks 1 month ago In this month that had been reduced to 990 the backlinks deleted automatically. What Should I do now. Should I go for Disavow tool or sit back and wait for them to get deleted.
    or there is any other solution for that

  75. Hi Neil,
    Mailing 780+ domains for link removal is a hectic job.

    Also disavowing works? Look at this author what he has got to say:

    My rankings dropped today after a long time. I had the same kind of impact like the author is saying.

    It would be great if you can give me a wise suggestion.

    • Yes it’s hectic, but you just got to look at it as part of the job. It’s house cleaning.

      Why did your site drop, did you remove good links too?

  76. No, I did not remove the good links. I removed the links which aren’t built by me. I mean the links from adult sites and junk sites.

  77. Hi Neil,

    Going through the same here as previous user. Just joined a new company and when analyzing their backlink profile, I have found a lot of bad links with high risk of Spam (I’m using SEO PowerSuite).

    These links are from adult and junk websites. I believe I should just disavow these links (they are like 300 links) but I’m not sure if this will hurt my rankings overall :/

    What do you think? Does disavow really works? Should I try another approach?

    Thank you very much!

  78. Thanks for writing. Negative seo has become so popular. I know a person who is offering negative seo service and they got hundreds of client. check this out

  79. Any way to make a list of bad links pointing to a money site, if the neg SEO links are more than 1000?
    so that, we could send them for disavow request

  80. I’ve had a number of small business owners on the phone with me this week wanting me to get them front page listings in Google. The challenge is, their website may obtain the traffic from their SEO results but that is about it.
    Their content is not optimised, nor is it compelling in anyway. These business owners won’t listen when I try to help them on the subject so it makes it challenging when you are trying to do the honourable thing. I bet you web developers are nodding your heads right about now 🙂
    I think I might email them the link to this post just so they can hear it from inside professionals like you and others on this site.
    Thank goodness for posts like this.

  81. There are too many people out there pretending to be experts and causing companies more harm than good! Would be happy to receive any feedback on our site for improvements., thanks in advance.

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