Negative SEO is more dangerous than ever for all webmasters regardless of the size or focus of their website. This is because every webmaster (no matter how small the niche) has competitors who are looking to knock him or her out of the SERPs.
Combine this with the fact that Google is cracking down on spam, bought links, etc. more than ever, the grey and black hat tricks which once boosted rankings will only hurt you now.
But instead of devaluing sites, Google basically ignores spammy link building techniques because it’s impossible for their algorithm to detect the source of the spam/negative SEO. So they won’t hurt you in the sense of hurting your rankings, but at the same time, they won’t help at all.
So you might be wondering why is negative SEO so dangerous if Google’s algorithms won’t derank your site?
While the algorithms can easily detect spammy links, instead of penalizing you, they internally mark and tag suspicious links as such. If you get enough of these tags on your links, then it may flag your site so that actual human link spam evaluators take a closer look at your site.
THIS is when you can get penalties/messages by way of your Search Console/Webmaster Tools.
How Competitors Use Negative SEO
It’s nothing new that competitors will fire up their favorite spammy automated link builder, focus on the keyword or keywords you’re targeting, then exact match them to death in all the links.
It’s the smart ones who will do this and report your site to Google via https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport which is unfortunately a service which, thanks to Google’s automated advancements in spam detection, doesn’t have a lot of positive applications anymore.
As Google gets better at simply identifying and subsequently ignoring automated link building so that it can be seen as nothing more than a waste of time for the webmaster using the tool, the spam report exists more and more to simply act as a powerful tool for your black hat competitors.
All they have to do is spam your site then report it to Google, claiming to just be an unbiased but interested party who noticed something fishy (yeah sure).
So this brings us full circle to how you can protect yourself from someone attacking your site with negative SEO.
How to Protect Yourself From Negative SEO
The best and only real way to protect yourself from negative SEO attacks from other webmasters is to keep a vigilant watch over your link profile. You can use link profiling tools like Moz, Ahrefs, Scrapebox, or even Google’s search console itself to keep abreast of any new links pointing to your website.
If you notice a big uptick in the links your site is receiving or see links from spammy sources (out of context links from sites which are spammy or have nothing to do with your site), then you’ll want to go to that same spam reporting URL (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport) and mention that someone else is attempting to spam your website.
If you beat your competitors to the punch in reporting the spam, Google will be far more likely to discount those links altogether. They’ll know that you didn’t create those links (because who in their right minds would report their own built or bought links to Google?) and the sooner you report them the better.
Again, this only works if you know your only linking profile inside and out, so use one or more of the tools mentioned above to always be aware of everyone who is linking to your site so that you are in complete control.