How to Protect Yourself from the SEO Dark Arts with @katobkato #vcbuzz

How to Protect Yourself from the SEO Dark Arts with @katobkato #vcbuzz

How much can your business be effected by your competitors’ SEO tactics directed against your site?

There have been lots of debates whether negative SEO can be effective, and Googlers tried to calm everyone down saying they could deal with that.

Well, it’s not always the case. We’ve seen lots of cases where online businesses were losing search visibility over their competitors’ actions. So can you protect your business?

About @katobkato

Brian Kato @katobkato has worked with countless businesses in order to improve their search engine rankings and overall marketing strategy.

Read more about Brian and connect to him through his site: Loveland SEO And Digital Marketing

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become an SEO? Please share your career story!

I started my SEO career as a project manager and developer. Having a background in coding definitely helps when it comes to diagnosing issues with websites.

In addition to SEO, I also enjoy neuromarketing and direct response. Blending these skills has allowed us to be nimble and adapt to a variety of circumstances.

Q2 Put simply, what types of “SEO dark arts” exist and how they may impact a website?

There are a number of “dark arts” that exist. A few examples:

  • entity poisoning
  • brand jacking
  • cloaking
  • nefarious link building
  • hacking and XSS injections

The purpose of dark SEO either to build a business up (artificially), or to disrupt a business.

Entity poisoning has been a very interesting one I’ve seen recently. as we all know, entities and topical clusters are what help Google better understand a brand. However, entities can also be used to create confusion around a brand.

Q3 How to be proactive when it comes to negative SEO? How to get prepared?

Build your brand! One of the worst attacks I’ve seen recently involves brand poisoning. While entities aren’t anything new in the industry, I have recently seen them weaponized for negative SEO

It’s also important to understand the right mindset when considering how dark SEO arts work. While most content marketers are concerned with quality from the few, most dark arts are concerned with scale and volume.

I recommend any business taking audit of their links, mentions, and associated topical clusters (who’s linking to you). Look at the actual serp and see if there’s anything odd that pops up.

Q4 How to know if you are under attack? If there is a traffic dip, how to identify it is due to a negative SEO attack?

Oooh. This is a good question. The answer is “sometimes” you’ll get a heads up. If the person is an experienced negative SEO, you’ll see the attack once it’s far too late and the damage has already been done.

On a more obvious level, you can look for any anomalies in traffic or on the serp. I would not rely solely on an SEO tool. Take a look at how things are being rendered on the SERP from multiple locations.

Get familiar with reading source code. A good number of on-page exploits can be uncovered this way.

Take your website security seriously. I see a lot of people who have wide open gaps in their web security that can be exploited. One of the most common is leaving specific ports open or incorrect email records.

It frustrates me to no end, but nearly 80% of clients that I audit, have email records that can easily be exploited with just a simple line of code… leaving them wide open for phishing attacks and email spam.

87% of U.S. adults see cyber warfare being a threat to the safety and well-being of the next generation, more so than global warming (77%) and COVID-19 (81%)

Hari Ravichandran

Q5 What are your favorite SEO tools?

Google Analytics 4

@netpeaksoftware or @screamingfrog are absolutely MUST haves. I also frequently use @seopowersuite, @semrush, and @ahrefs

I’m also loving a number of AI tools for SEO. In particular, I’m really liking some of the browser extensions that enhance ChatGPT.

Our previous technical SEO chats:


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