Don’t Let the Negative SEO Grinch and Bad Marketing Ruin Your Business

There’s a dark side to SEO and digital marketing.

There’s back alley negative SEO attacks. Competitors belittling your services. Falsely created business reviews. And sometimes there’s just bad marketing choices being made.

On one hand, quality digital marketing offers a seemingly infinite potential to develop and provide more effective customer experiences. This user-centered approach means interacting with customers in a way that will give you an insight on what your targeted audiences want, thus improving customer satisfaction, retention, and ultimately, revenue.

But that’s when your digital marketing works ideally.

There’s also the flip side of the coin in which things can go – bad. That’s why you need the expertise and thoroughness of a team like Cobalt Digital Marketing. Of course we work to make sure your digital marketing strategy is running smoothly, but we also like to plan ahead for when the road gets bumpy.

So what are some of these stumbling blocks we prep you for? Well, there’s:

The Negative SEO Grinch

You’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (though here at Cobalt we refer to it as Search Experience Optimization). But if you don’t keep up with digital marketing much, then you’ve probably never heard of negative SEO, which is the exact opposite of what you want happening.

Rather than increasing search visibility in Google (everyone’s favorite search engine), negative SEO is aimed at demoting your site’s search ranking, or in extreme cases, having it completely removed from search. There are a number of tactics that are used to produce these negative effects including: creating fake reviews, building a massive amount of unnatural links from illegitimate websites, spamming keywords, creating duplicate content, and even hacking sites.

While Google has developed some tools dedicated to helping prevent negative SEO attacks, there’s still the possibility of being penalized because of someone else’s malicious attacks on your site. There are some indicators that can help you to detect if an active negative SEO campaign has affected your rankings including:

  • Greatly reduced search traffic. A sudden drop in search traffic is a tell-tale sign of an negative SEO attack (assuming you haven’t been performing anything shady yourself). A drop from Google rankings means a drop in revenue, so keep an eye out for this.
  • Google will tell you to play fair. Google penalizes in two different ways – manually and algorithmically. An algorithmic penalty is only spotted by noticing that drop in traffic we already mentioned. A manual penalty means Google will send you a little love note explaining why they have taken action against your site.
  • Look at the anchors clouds for your site. Spammy anchors are frequently used by negative SEO practitioners to overwhelm your site. Terms like “cheap viagra” are frequently used to disrupt your website’s reputation.

Preventing a Negative SEO Attack

A penalized website can keep you out of business for months (which can really damage your reputation and revenue) so consider the following tips that can help prevent an attack:

  • Use Google Webmaster Tools Email Alerts. These alerts can notify you if: your website is being attacked by malware, your pages aren’t indexed, you’re having server connectivity problems, or you get a manual penalty from Google.
  • Keep an eye on your backlinks. This preventative measure is one of the most important steps to take to protect your site from spammers. Tools like Ahrefs or help you to track links (whether you gain or lose them).
  • Secure your website. You’ll want to protect yourself from hackers so consider using Google Authenticator Plugin for your WordPress website. Also, if your hosting company allows you to upload, check to see if it’s possible to install antivirus.
  • Monitor your social media profile. Sometimes, jealous competitors (read haters) might try to bring you down by creating fake accounts on social media using your company’s name. There’s also the possibility of falsely created reviews of your business that throw it in a negative light.
  • Play nice and don’t make enemies. There’s no reason you should be making online enemies. Arguing with clients (or anyone else for that matter) can lead to some hostile actions from others. Revenge has gone digital.
  • Don’t do negative SEO on yourself. You (or your inexperienced digital marketing team) can accidentally hurt your website by using techniques that are not acceptable to Google like:
  • Linking to penalized websites.
  • Building too many backlinks using “money” keywords.
  • Publishing a huge number of bad guest posts.

Negative SEO is alive and breathing so don’t make it any easier for malicious spammers and vengeful competition to break your business. While you can bounce back from an attack if you understand what steps to take, some small businesses aren’t so lucky.

Bad Digital Marketing Gets You a Lump of Coal

Digital marketing isn’t just about a pretty website and a fancy format. There area number of real world key metrics that need to be taken into account in order to make sure that your digital marketing strategies are effective.

Familiarizing yourself with key metrics provides insight that can help you overcome unpredictable situations. Failing to recognize the importance of these analytics can get you a nice hot heap of coal in your Christmas stocking, so pay attention to:

Total visits. Tracking this number gives you a “big picture” idea of how well your marketing campaign is doing. A sudden drop from one month to the next can help you identify and rectify any issues.

  • Channel-specific traffic. These metrics should include your direct, referral, organic, and social channels. Measuring these helps you to know where you’re going strong and where you might need to place some focus.
  • Bounce rate. This number gives you the percentage of visitors who visit your website and leave without further exploring. You’ll want this number to be low because the more time someone spends exploring your site, the higher the likelihood they’ll convert and take action.
  •  Keep an eye on conversions as this number allows you to track customer engagement on your site. This usually means filling out a form, clicking a download button, providing an email, creating an account, making a purchase, etc. Low conversions can relate to your site’s design, your product, or a lack of a targeted audience.
  • Search trends. Search trends help to guide you to the right keywords for your campaign (thus affecting your SEO).

A weak digital marketing strategy that fails to properly handle key metrics means you won’t be able to adjust your plans as needed and your revenue will start to fall – putting your business at a real risk of failure.

Do You Want to be Known as the Digital Bad Santa?

Your online presence speaks volumes about your business. Whether you guide that reputation is up to you.

The goal of an integrated digital marketing strategy is to establish a seamless online presence across web, social, and mobile that reflects your company’s vision and values. As mentioned earlier in the article, a truly malicious competitor might decide to play dirty and to smear your name with bad company reviews and negative SEO tactics.

That’s why you’ll need an experienced and analytical digital marketing team that can help you to develop a powerful brand message that defines the company’s core vision and value, as well as provide the technical support needed to ensure that when attacks do occur, your reputation and website can withstand the barrage.

A solid online presence should include:

A website tailored to your target audience with clean and clear navigation.

  • A social platform presence that serves as a two-way channel between your brand and consumers.
  • An integrated connection between all digital marketing channels that offers personalized experiences.
  • Content that informs, entertains, and adds value to your services

So are you in control of your online presence? If you’re not, then your competition just might be. And it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re making you out to be the bad Santa that can’t deliver on services.

Don’t Let the Negative SEO Grinch Steal Christmas

So we must admit that we did cover quite a bit of information here today, but if you’re still not sure why you need a competent team of professionals running your digital marketing campaign then consider this:

Digital marketing gets better Cost-Per-Lead compared to other marketing channels.

  • Digital marketing delivers conversion to leads, subscribers, and sales.
  • Digital is the future and provides small and medium enterprises revenue growth when done correctly.
  • Real-time digital marketing increases customer satisfaction, experience, and retention.
  • Digital marketing helps to cater to the ever growing mobile consumer.
  • Digital marketing builds brand reputation.
  • Digital marketing targets the right kind of people that ensure your business’s survival.

Get ready to make 2017 the best year with Cobalt Digital Marketing!


Mastering the Matrix: Content, SEO, Penguin & Possum

The Web as you know it —– is alive! It’s growing, evolving, and changing daily.

While websites have yet to develop consciousness like you and I, they still live and grow based on their interaction with website visitors and powerful search engines. According to, there are over 1 billion websites and Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day.

There are 40k @Google searches/second, 3.5 billion/day, 1.2 trillion/year. #SEO Click To Tweet

How does Google rank website results for all of those searches? Google has constructed an elaborate computer algorithm to “look for clues” to identify which websites best provide the information for which the user is searching. There are over 200 factors that are taken into consideration and the algorithm is updated regularly. The most recent updates include Possum, which went into effect on September 1st, and the latest Penguin update which is rolling out today.

From what we can see, Possum primarily impacted local search results. Map listings appear to have a different filter and results depend more upon where you, as the searcher, are physically located.

Penguin originally launched in 2012 and was a wake up call for many SEO companies who thought they could trick the system. There’s no fooling Google! This latest update has two major changes. The first is that Penguin is real-time. This means data is refreshed in real time so changes will be visible faster after sites are crawled and indexed. The second change is Penguin is more “granular”. Spam will be devalued by the algorithm bed on spam signals so the ranking of the entire site will not be effected as has happened in the past.

So, what does this mean for your website? Google has once again shown us that they put user experience first. They continue to find ways to better meet the needs of the user. That must be our mission as well.

@Google puts #ux first and so do we. @CobaltDigitalMarketing #SEO Click To Tweet

Just like a real, living thing, websites require analysis, care and attention to continually grow to meet user needs. If you fail to regularly feed your website fresh content, improved usability, and intuitive navigation, then you’ll likely be viewed by web crawlers as dead.


It’s not a matter of keeping up with the latest changes in Google algorithms, it’s anticipating them. This is how the expertise of a digital marketing agency like Cobalt Digital Marketing can help you get in front of the right search traffic, stay in front of the search traffic and convert the search traffic into customers.

Keeping a healthy, vibrant website requires a meaningful SEO strategy with quality content. It is important to recognize though that quality content means quality content. Fluff and keyword stuffing will not work. Failing to provide any substance will leave your site emptier than a pool in the winter.

Stay on top of the latest Google algorithm change and anticipate future changes by keeping an eye on user experience with these website management tips.

New Content Means More Frequent Indexing

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean higher indexing, but rather that the more often you update your website with new articles, pages, or downloads, the more frequently web crawlers will stop by your living site. Web crawlers, simply put, are programs that scan the Web for websites and “index” a site based on a number of factors determined by a search engine’s algorithm.

So, the more often these little web crawlers are on your site, the better your opportunity to achieve a higher ranking. All because of fresh, quality content.

But again, it’s all about quality over quantity. Flooding your website with shabby quality content is only going to hurt you in the long run and can actually cause you to get penalized.

You can monitor your @Google site crawls in #WebmasterTools crawl stats. #seo Click To Tweet

More Content + More Authority = Informed Audience

New content should include keywords that will help attract visitors to your site. Search engine web crawlers help to locate these keywords in your blogs or postings, which optimizes your ranking, and gets those viewers to your content.

Something important to remember with Google algorithm updates is that they help filter quality content rather than keyword-stuffed drivel. By writing content that answers questions, provides valuable information, or informs readers how to do something, your authoritative potential rises. This understanding that content is king will make you a meaningful player in your specific industry.

@Google favors quality content not keyword-stuffed drivel. #SEO #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

The more relevant and meaningful content you saturate your website with, the more of an authority you become on the internet and the more people will begin to trust what you’re saying. By keeping an informed audience constantly engaged with your site, you’ll develop loyalty, which converts to returning traffic and, ultimately, into customers.

Every time you get search traffic to your site you are handed the perfect opportunity to provide users with information about your business and your services. Remember, these visitors were searching for information, product or service and chose your site from thousands of others. Take advantage of the situation and capture their attention with the right message and content to get them to understand why they need your services more than anyone else’s.

Google Wants to Love Your Website

The truth is that Google is the reigning champ right now in the competitive world of search engines. They are so powerful that they actually influence the manner in which websites are constructed, as well as the methodology of Search Experience Optimization (SEO) techniques. It’s exceedingly important to understand their motivation and let that drive your digital marketing effort and the evolution of your website. They love when websites meet the needs of search queries. They want to see low bounce rates. They will reward you for doing everything you can to create positive user experiences.

We don’t always know when Google algorithm updates are coming. In fact, often they slip by with little notice or comment. While there has not been any official word from Google’s PR team about the latest update, the webmaster and SEO community are confident that we will continue to see search result changes as a result of the algorithm change to Google’s local map filter and organic search results.

SEO Expert Mauricio Piña was noted as saying, “Only time will tell if these algorithm updates will leave any major lasting effects, but the fact of the matter is, the only way to be successful in the SEO and content world is by keeping up-to-date with all the changes that occur in the digital universe.”

“The path to #SEO success is keeping up with and anticipating change” @mauriciopina @google Click To Tweet

Cobalt Digital Marketing Wants YOU to Love YOUR Website Too

Let the phenomenal Cobalt Digital Marketing team help you take control of your digital presence. Our Marketing Catalysts can strategically manage all aspects of your online presence including website design, user experience, SEO, content, and social media, to ensure that you are best positioned to take advantage of future Google algorithm updates.

Anticipate site visitor needs and keep your website growing, evolving and changing. Whether an image, download, or blog, adding fresh material will get you traffic and ultimately sales. So get to writing.
Or let Cobalt Digital Marketing do it for you.

SEO is NOT dead.

Let me say this loud and clear one last time, SEO is NOT dead. SEO has changed, for sure, but it is still very often going to give you the best bang for your online marketing buck. Think about it.…  there are an average of over 40,000 search queries on Google every SECOND. That’s 1.2 TRILLION searches annually. (source Some percentage of those people are searching for YOUR business. You just need to get in front of them and convert them into customers. It’s just that simple.

There are over 40,000 #search queries on #Google every SECOND. Click To Tweet

Jayson Demers, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, apparently agrees. Jason says that there are five reasons you need to invest in an SEO campaign right now. I concur.

  1. Return On Investment.

SEO does require a financial investment and that stops many businesses right in their tracks. The key is to not to only look at what you will spend but what you will get in return. Your company will receive a range of benefits from brand visibility to actual sales. If an SEO program is executed effectively you will find that the longer you invest, the greater return you will see and, ultimately, the greater the sales.

The greater #SEO investment, the greater #ROI & the greater #sales. Click To Tweet
  1. The Age of UX

There’s no more “black hat” manipulation of the search engines. Those days are long gone. This is a time of true SEO, what we call Search Experience Optimization. Giving users the information and experience they are searching for is what it’s all about. What a great opportunity for businesses! As the search engines improve their ability to meet the needs of users, our job in executing an SEO program is to provide the best content and user experience. Remember, no longer are users just sitting at their desktops. Today’s users are on the go and a good Search Experience Optimization program MUST include tactics for optimizing mobile content.

#SEO programs must include tactics for optimizing #mobile #content. Click To Tweet
  1. The ROI Snowball

We see the work we do in our Search Experience Optimization program ultimately having amplified returns. The more we build, structure and layer our content, the more we link, the more we build the social presence of our clients, the more they benefit in the end. Their domain authority grows, their brand visibility increases and we see traffic and social following multiply as a result. It’s like a snowball rolling down a big hill, growing both in size and speed!

#ROI for #SEO snowballs over time. Click To Tweet
  1. If You Are Not Moving Forward You Are Moving Backward

Competition is competition. You need to be where the customers are. Don’t wait to implement an Search Experience Optimization program while your competitors implement SEO strategies and scoop up the sales. Every day between now and when you get started with your SEO program is another day for your competitor’s brand to get visibility and their site to get ranked for high volume keywords.

If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. Click To Tweet
  1. Just Go

This is not a case of “go big or go home”, just go. It is costing you more money every day you think about implementing an SEO program then it would if you just identified a budget you can live with and got in the game. Starting small is just fine but do start. As you see results, you can expand the program for deeper penetration, to encompass a larger basket of related keywords or go after a wider geographic area.

With #seo don’t worry about “go big or go home”, just go. Click To Tweet

While some people shop for headstones to bury SEO, our team is getting even more aggressive. We see nothing but opportunity with Search Experience Optimization. In the end, businesses NEED to be where the customers are. Customers are online. Customers are searching. It’s time to roll up your sleeves, implement a digital marketing strategy and compete. Long live SEO… Search Experience Optimization!