Monitor for Negative SEO Attacks

Negative SEO Attacks

Nobody likes nasty surprises, so although monitoring for negative SEO attacks can take a little time, any time spent making these checks should never be seen as wasted. Discovering such attacks early on is far better than only realizing a problem exists when a sudden drop in traffic occurs or because the attacked site has been dropped from the Google index.

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Using Google Webmaster Tools to Monitor for Negative SEO Attacks

The placing of poor-quality links (often on undesirable sites) is one of the most common methods utilized for negative SEO attacks, so wouldn’t it be good if there was a way to monitor new links as and when they occur? Fortunately, there is, better yet it’s free, and it comes as a standard issue with every Google Webmaster Tools account.

Many webmasters are unaware this option even exists, but it is quick and simple to use and can provide a wealth of useful information.


How to Check Your Site’s Latest Inbound Links in Four Easy Steps

  • Step 1: Log into Google Webmaster tools and click “Search Traffic” (in the sidebar at the left of the page).
  • Step 2: When the drop-down menu appears click “Links to Your Site” and a partial list of new links will be displayed in the central panel.
  • Step 3: Look for the “More” link (underneath “Who Links the Most”) and click it to reveal a list of the top 1,000 domains that link to your site.
  • Step 4:  Look for “Download Latest Links” (at the top of the report) and click it as well. You then have the option of downloading the file to Google Docs or to your computer as a .CSV file (opens with Excel or Open Office Calc). A list of the latest inbound links will be displayed in the report along with the date that Google first discovered the link.


find latest inbound links


The availability of such a list offers obvious advantages to anyone who is attempting to monitor for negative SEO attacks. If the report shows an influx of quality links that’s great. If it shows no new links nothing is lost, but if the report reveals a sudden profusion of spammy links (forum signatures using highly targeted keywords etc.) then action will be required.

In a future article, we will look at the possible actions webmasters can take to reduce the likelihood of their sites being penalized because of negative SEO issues, but that’s for later on.  Before considering the various methods of fighting negative SEO we will need to examine further ways to discover such attacks.


Content Duplication

Content duplication is an alarmingly common occurrence on the Work Wide Web. Often when content is copied from a site and reposted elsewhere it can be attributed to lazy webmasters who are trying to build their sites in the quickest and easiest way possible, but when the same content has been reposted dozens of times, all over the web, it often indicates a negative SEO attack.

The presence of quality (original) content can be a major contributing factor to a website’s success. Copied content does not possess the same value and the more content is copied and reposted the less value it has—even to the site it originated from—so content duplication can be a very effective negative SEO tactic. Fortunately, there are several ways webmasters can check if their content has been copied and republished.


Three Ways to Check for Content Duplication


One of the quickest ways is to visit the Copyscape website and place the URLs that require checking into their search box. Alternatively, the Copyscape system can be used to check entire blocks of text. Using Copyscape is an efficient way to check for content duplication, and advanced features are available for a small fee.



It is also possible to check for content duplication by copying the relevant content and pasting it into the plagiarism checker at



It is also possible to use the Google search engine to check for content theft.

Simply copy a line of text from the webpage that requires checking and enter it into Google’s search box, but ensure the text is enclosed in quotation marks “JUST LIKE THIS” to ensure the search engine only returns that exact combination of words required.

Example: the text below is taken from another page of this site. It is original content and should not appear elsewhere on the web:

“Unique content is good. Quality unique content is even better and sites that regularly publish quality unique content should have an”

Searching without quotes delivers these results.

But the quotes make all the difference and should deliver just one result.

*(NOTE: If the first part of each page is redistributed by RSS, the content of the feed is likely to appear all over the web, so it will be necessary to choose a portion of text that appears further down the page.)*

If Google has indexed the content elsewhere this will also be revealed and the webmaster can then ensure the duplicated content is removed from the other sites. How to do this will be explained in a future article, but before we look at the ways to combat negative SEO attacks we must look at another way to monitor for them, so our next article will reveal how to check for signs of another popular negative SEO tactic: link removal.


One of the best SEO assets any site can have is a profusion of quality backlinks and their value is so obvious it makes them a prime target for negative SEO attacks. Practitioners of negative SEO tactics are usually as clever as they are devious; they can find a site’s best backlinks and then destroy them—usually by contacting the owners of the sites providing the links, passing themselves off as the owner of the site they wish to attack, and then requesting the link be removed.

The owner of the attacked site would normally be oblivious to any of this and when their ranking and traffic began to drop a long and cumbersome investigation would be required to try and get to the root of the problem. It’s much better to monitor backlinks and deal with problems as and when they arise.


How to Automatically Monitor Backlinks

The best way to monitor backlinks is to subscribe to and link their system to the Google Analytics account that corresponds to the site that requires monitoring.

The Monitor Backlinks website provides a free search box that allows visitors to check their backlinks, but while this can be handy it is of little use to webmasters who require automatic monitoring of their links.

Although the site offers a free 30-day trial, continued use of its tools will require users to take out a paid subscription. Various price plans are available, but the cheapest package may be sufficient for many webmasters’ needs.

For a payment of $19.90 each month, webmasters can:

  • Monitor two of their domains
  • 500 unique links
  • 50 keywords

The whole process is fully automated and webmasters are informed via email whenever new links appear or if existing links are removed. Subscribers are also allowed to choose two competing domains and monitor their backlinks as well. Subscriptions also provide access to various other features and refinements but it is beyond the scope of this article to go into further details here. Further information on features and pricing is available on the Monitor Backlinks website.


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About Author

Declan Clancy

Declan Clancy

Declan Clancy is an enthusiastic, results oriented and creative Digital Marketer with 9 years hands on experience across digital channels. In his last role as Group Digital Marketing Manager for Trigon Hotels, Declan was responsible for the ecommerce strategy and implementation for their 3 hotels. While at Trigon Hotels, Declan won Best use of Twitter for a Large Business at the Cork Digital Marketing Awards for his work for Cork International Hotel. Declan holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from University College Cork.

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