My oh my, what has the game of search engine optimization (SEO) come to recently?
JCPenney, Overstock.com (ratted out by competitors?), and now BeatThatQuote.com. While I think BeatThatQuote.com being penalized is a great example of Google keeping things fair, it highlights a big problem with the way SEO is heading.
It seems that the easiest way to beat your competitors is to write them up on a website and wait for the Google slap.
If your site is ranked third for a term and your competitors can be displaced by a nasty online report, you don't even need to do any work to beat them if you can get them banned!
Which leads us to an interesting question: why wouldn't we just go ahead and buy dirty nasty links to our competitors all day long and report them on webmaster forums?
To be clear: I'm not recommending this. I would never do this to someone. If I can't beat someone off my own steam, then I don't deserve to be ranked higher than them in the first place.
The possibility of this sort of "reverse SEO attack" also makes me wonder how exactly I would protect my own websites.
What if this happened to me?
Honestly, you can never be 100 percent safe. If somebody wants to damage your website or reputation, they will.
What can you do?
1. Set Up Google Alerts to Monitor Your Brand
If your website is www.GarysGreatDogCollars.com, then it's probably worth punching in a Google Alert for "GarysGreatDogCollars.com." This allows you to get a notification as soon as your brand is mentioned online.
If a competitor attempts to rat you out online, at least you will see it immediately and be able to offer some sort of rebuttal. Perhaps you can even ask an administrator of the website to manually remove the comments.
2. Set up a Link Monitoring Service Account
You should also set up an account with Majestic SEO, or another link monitoring service.
I like Majestic because it seems to be the most thorough and I've seen their MJ12 crawlers roaming the web since before time began (when I used to operate 500,000 domain names they would be a frequent nuisance that hammered our servers).
Majestic can give you a daily break down on new links discovered and you can use their graphing systems to see link spikes.
If you see an unusual link spike (referring domains or otherwise) then you will need to think about implementing a nice clean strategy to offset any potential bad links.
These are two simple steps that you can take action on today to protect your brand in the future.
Next time, we'll discuss how you can analyze your website to see if it has been penalized.
If anyone else has link monitoring services they can recommend instead of relying solely on Majestic, please leave a comment. I'd love to have my eggs in a few more baskets!
Join us for SES New York 2011, the Leading Search & Social Marketing Event, taking place March 21-25. SES New York will be packed with 70+ sessions, multiple keynotes, 100+ exhibitors, networking events, and parties. Learn about PPC management, keyword research, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization, usability, and more.