What is Negative SEO? 5 Types And How to Stop Them.

Negative SEO sucks. It’s what happens when you do the wrong things (or someone else does) that destroys your organic rankings.

what is negative seo In an instant, incoming traffic can vanish, your site can become blocked, and/or disappear entirely from places like Google. It’s an awful feeling and I’ve experienced this on multiple sites before and have grown accustomed to knowing WHY it happens, how to stop it and help you understand why it may be happening to your site too.

The fact is, many people who hear about negative SEO don’t really understand it well.

  • They don’t know what it is.
  • They don’t know that there’s different forms of it (I’ll show you 5 types).
  • And many times, they don’t know that they, themselves are causing it to happen. 


In my experience, there’s 5 reasons these things happen:

1) Your site experiences a virus, malware attack.

Online viruses can impact sites just as they can impact your social media accounts, your emails, your computer, your phone, ect…

There are horrible people out there who seek to destroy sites (they can even be hired to do this, which I’ll get into shortly). They basically look to see where your website is vulnerable (not updated enough) and then plant malware on it.

What can you do?

The solution to stopping this problem is to follow the steps I laid out in this article (#5). Do note, that the faster you resolve this issue on your site, the faster you can fix the negative rankings this issue causes. 

2) Someone is hired to attack your site. 

As hard as it may be to believe, there’s actually a whole industry based around negative SEO where people seek to destroy their competition through hiring shady folks to attack a competitor’s site. Here are some examples:

A person can get hired to send your website a ton of toxic backlinks, which can include links from adult and illegal website. The intention is that if Google sees a lot of backlinks from low quality sites linking to yours, they will assume your site is also a low quality one and they’ll punish yours for it.

There’s also the malware people I talked about above, who can also be hired to do this. 

Then there’s also things like DDoS attacks (they’ll attack the hosting).

What can you do?

Typically if your site is updated and has some sort of security on it, you should be fine from most malware attacks.

If you experience a DDoS attack, contact your hosting company and they should be able to resolve it.

As for backlinks, you can’t really stop people from trying to destroy your site with the bad ones, BUT there’s actually good news in this…

Google has noticed that people do this and has thus changed how they look at backlinks, meaning that if someone sends toxic backlinks to your site, as long nothing extra comes of it (you don’t link back to them, there’s no comments or value coming out of it), they simply won’t use that as negative SEO against you.

This is why when I talk about backlinks here, I speak about the VALUE behind them being the important thing, not the link itself. There is also this recovery article you can check out on SEO.

3) You’re doing something black hat, whether you know it or not.

Do you know what this is? Well it’s simple…

Imagine that in order to get high SEO results, there’s a certain list of things you need to do. If you do them, congrats, your site gets ranked higher organically (ask the expert here). We call this stuff, white hat, and it’s pretty appropriate.

But black hat is a term used to describe you doing the OPPOSITE of all those good things and thus suffering the opposite, negative SEO consequences for it. Here’s some examples:

negative seo examples

What to do:

Firstly, know the differences between good and bad ranking practices (see the image above). Obviously, be on the good side.

Do not ever do or hire anyone to do anything on the bad side. 

4) Duplicate content.

Nobody wants to have their content stolen an re-used. It is actually black hat stuff, but in this context, we’re referring to 2 things:

  • First, we’re talking about YOU personally going out and copying and pasting content from other sites.
  • Second, we’re talking about other people copying and pasting content on your site, through things like comments. 

Both of these things are perfect ways to bring about the terror of negative SEO onto your website and you actually have control of not letting this happen.

What to do:

With regards to the first issue…just don’t do it. You can’t get away with this. 

And with regards to the second issue on comments, here’s my suggestion:

And finally, if you find a website or blog where the content is yours (stolen), you can sleep tight knowing that the site will experience it’s own negative SEO effects from Google, BUT you can take further action against the site, such as legally taking it down through what is known as a DMCA takedown.

5) You stop growing your site and the rankings fall.

In this last and final example, imagine all the white hat things I gave you an example of above and just imagine you stop doing them. You’re not even doing any black hat things, you just stop growing the site through the good methods.

In these situations, what ends up happening is that Google slowly decreases the authority and value of your website and this does lower rankings. It usually doesn’t happen quickly, but there is a declining trend you will see in traffic and that can be considered a form of negative SEO.

I’ll give you an example…

One of my website was actively growing because I was growing it through the good ways I explained. It reached a point where it would get to 300+ visitors a day.

Overtime though, my attention with the said site dropped and it was because I had more important websites to focus on, thus I could not dedicate the needed time to keep this one growing and by growing I mean posting more content.

So what happened?

Well over a period of several months, those 300 visitors, went down to 200, then 100, then 50 and now it’s under that daily. Here is the site I’m talking about the real life report of what I’m talking about here:

The fault is on no one else but myself and this is an issue that many people.

What to do?

Many people who grow a website to a good level, become complacent, thinking that this status is never going to drop and so it leads them to make the mistake I did. 

The solution to fixing this is to just go back to growing the website again. As long as the website was always doing the good things to grow in the first place, there’s no reason to believe that going back to doing that, won’t have the same effect it once did. 

And one of the best ways to help with problem 5 is to do these things.

Have you had any of these 5 things happen to you?

While I’ve had my own personal experiences with negative SEO, I’d love to know if you had any of these same things happen too and if not, and your situation was different than what I described, let me know about it in detail.

Perhaps I can offer some tips to help you get back to having positive ranking results.

6 thoughts on “What is Negative SEO? 5 Types And How to Stop Them.”

  1. Thanks for sharing how to deal with the negative SEO effectively. I had a similar result with a website as you. I wrote 30-32 something blog posts for one of my websites and stopped working on it for 2 months. 

    After a few months I noticed 40-50 daily visits on my Google Analytics account and I was excited about it, but I didn’t add more content to it as I had started working on another website and lost my interest too for this website.

    Later on, after few months I noticed traffic dropped to 5-6 per day. But still I got a few sales from that site. What number of posts need to be posted on a website per month or yearly to keep the SEO good?

    • Hi Sanjay, the problem and answer is that there is no specific number to give here because it depends on the website and the SEO competition for it. 

      So for example, if you stop posting on a website which has little competition for the keywords you’re targeting, you won’t really need to post all that much, perhaps once a week on the same site and it should be able to maintain most of it’s high rankings.

      But if you take a website which has a lot of competition and takes a lot of time to reach good rankings with, you’ll find that not posting much on the same site will result in its rankings dropping faster, so posting once a week on THAT site might not be enough. In this instance, I’d try to post 4 or more times weekly.

      No matter what though, just know that the more frequently you produce new content, the better and that applies to ANY website in any topic.

  2. What a great article. I have a website on gardening and I haven’t has any issues with the first four negative SEO issues you discussed. My content is authentic and good, I don’t really have a backlink issue, my site host successfully keeps out any viruses and I don’t have any duplicate content. 

    However, I have been having an issue with rankings lately. I was ranking high with Google but I now don’t rank on there search engine at all. I’m still at the top with Bing. So I have no idea what’s gone wrong. It could be because I have slowed down with content but I am still writing, just not as much. The comments side of things did slow down dramatically, could this be the issue? 



    • Hi Jim, if you’re not doing anything negative SEO related, then the only logical answers I can give regarding your issue is that your site may be going through a few different things:

      1) The slowdown of your content production can impact existing rankings. I would improve on this if you can.

      2) A new algorithm or update from Google’s end may have come out and this is actually more likely to be the cause of what you said because you mentioned that your site dropped out of the rankings. It’s possible when you did a check, that the update was going on in which case many sites, including yours fall out of the search engine, but only for a temporary time period.

      Check your rankings again and see what it produces, if they are back or slightly lower, then it’s the update that’s at “fault” and you need not worry.

      3) Your site may still be at an age where it’s not considered an authority and this causes it to dance around Google more often. New sites which release new content get a very BRIEF, high ranking on Google, which excites users, but because it’s new, the rank then vanishes and reappears at a page that’s very far in the search results.

      Users who see this mistakenly think it’s a Google slap or something related, but it’s not, it’s normal. I don’t know how old your site is, but if you could answer that for me, it would help me figure this out more deeply, but if it’s still new, then this 3rd possibility is the likeliest reason.

      So basically, your site is going through a Google dance and it’s OK.  

  3. Hello Vitaliy

    Really enjoyed this article and the reason why is that I after nearly 2 years, I have not received rankings through Google. I do have some posts that are copied but simply because I was quoting someone. However I have recently gone into these sites and asked google to non index these couple of posts. I’m hopeful this will be the answer and can only keep going and not fall in to the same trap again

    Thanks, your post has brought an awareness to an oversight on my behalf. Can you offer any further suggestions that may improve my situation.



    • Hi Paul, I’m sorry to hear about that lack of results you’re seeing with your SEO. The only clue I have to explain why you’re experiencing this is what you mentioned about copying quotes. This can very well be the reason your SEO isn’t moving upwards.

      There could be more reasons, but I’d need to know specifically what you’ve been doing for the past 2 years on this site, besides copying quotes. Obviously the age of the site is good, but how much content is there? 

      Another thing would be, how are you gauging the traffic, indexing and ranking from Google? Have you installed Google analytics and TRULY seen that there’s no traffic? If so, then I would check to see if the code you got from that program is working correctly, as often times, people incorrectly input it on their site and then incorrectly think Google hates it. I would also, if you haven’t already use webmaster tools, and that place will definitely be able to tell you if there’s organic rankings happening or not.

      One thing I will suggest, and this may be a hard thing to do, BUT if everything is indeed as bad as you say, I would recommend starting a fresh new site. Typically sites which aren’t doing well in Google take a lot of work to rebuild in Google’s eyes, so a fresh site basically paves a clear road to grow the site. 

      If a site has suffered negative SEO for whatever reasons, then it needs to go through a series of disavowing pages that may be the cause of that negative SEO, a re submission of a site map to Webmaster Tools and new, fresh content to be build anew. This whole process in my opinion can be tougher to go through, vs starting a new site.

      Yes, it can be tough to let go of a page after 2 years, but at the same time, why stay stuck on a page that’s going to take an arduous amount of time to rebuild, when you can make a new one and grow that with a clean slate? I’ve had to make those tough decisions in the past and believe me, starting a new site was the right decision when I look back on it, but again, that’s up to you. 


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