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We understand how incredibly stressful it can be to be targeted by negative SEO. Malicious backlinks can appear in their thousands overnight (oh, the joys of automated link building software) and they can not only harm rankings, but they can also cause customer attrition.

If you have been targeted by a negative SEO campaign, the good news is Google isn’t stupid so they aren’t going to remove you from their search results overnight. However, there is some cause for concern with the way Google handles negative SEO.

Google’s official response to negative SEO in the past was there is “almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index,” but this has changed to “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index,” on their Support page, and Google states “In some circumstances, incoming links can affect Google’s opinion of a page or site,” on their Disavow backlinks page.

What this means is that Google isn’t ruling out the possibility of malicious backlinks from harming your website and of course this is not good news if you are being targeted.

So what can you do about malicious backlinks?

What to do about malicious backlinks

First of all, you should get a current and up to date list of all your backlinks from Google Webmaster Tools (visit this link to do this). If you do not have Google Webmaster Tools installed, you should integrate this on to your website as soon as possible.

With this list of backlinks to hand, you will be able to see any links that are questionable and you can compile a list of backlinks to disavow with Google. You can disavow individual backlinks or entire domains, the latter option being our preference. Disavow files should be created in a .txt format (use Notepad on Windows machines and Plain Text on Macs).

To help you create your disavow file, here’s Google’s support page on the topic. You should submit your disavow file at this link.

It is unclear how long it takes for Google to integrate a disavow file into a website’s portfolio. It may take days or it may take weeks. The important thing to remember is that your job is not done once you have submitted the file. You should continue to add new links and domain names as they become known to you. Unfortunately, this will take time. The easy solution is to outsource such a task to ourselves (contact us to find out more).

What happens if I do nothing?

There’s a chance the low quality and irrelevant backlinks pointing to your website will be taken into account by Google’s search engine algorithm. If this happens it is highly likely you will receive an automated or manual penalty. This will remove your website from Google’s search results and no doubt impact your business operations significantly.

Dark Peak Digital SEO for Glossop, Buxton & Stockport