Is Your Business a Victim of SEO Spam?

SEO spam is an example of negative SEO that blackhat SEO practitioners can deploy successfully against competitors and sometimes, even for their clients.

When discovered by the search engines, the activity invites penalties. These could range from plummeting rankings to a sitewide ban. You can face a loss of income and many lost opportunities. Often, you have to rebuild your online reputation from scratch.

SEO spam is insidious, it’s a sneak attack. You often don’t see it coming and sometimes never realize it’s occurred. It’s an effective tool for unscrupulous competitors. Their goal is to surpass you on the search pages, and stealing your prospects and business, without putting in the necessary hard work.

Examples of SEO Spam

Links from spammy sites

This is one of the more common strategies. Your competitor, or other malicious culprit will link spammy, unauthoritative sites to your website. This reduces your site’s authority and dropping the site in the search pages. If you believe this has happened to you, determine what links you suspect and use Google’s disavow tool to eliminate the spammy links. Be careful as you do this. You don’t want to disavow good links. Google recommends you only use the tool if you have a “considerable amount of spammy or artificial links.”

Malicious hack of your website

A more severe form of SEO spam is when hackers succeed in introducing malicious code in a website’s code or server and can then add links on the page or create subdomains. Unrelated search terms directing traffic to your website are a very good indicator of your site being compromised by SEO malware. Another likely event is pages set up on the site that are doorways to other sites.

There are WordPress plugins that can help you detect SEO spam. Another way that you can monitor the health of your website is by signing up with the Google Search Console. You can log in to check your website’s health—the links pointing to the site, the most linked pages, keywords driving impressions, etc. You will receive emails if Google suspects something going awry with your site.

Track the links pointing back to your site, the new ones that appear and your prized ones. Spam attackers have a particularly dirty trick up their sleeves. They impersonate webmasters and email backlinking sites with requests to remove the link. It’s not a good feeling to lose a particularly high DA/PA link.

One way to prevent this from happening is to always use your domain’s email ID for communication with other webmasters. Avoid generic emails.

It’s also useful to know what’s not spammy backlinking or negative SEO by a competitor. For example, a sitewide link may appear like many links from a single domain, and that is what it is, but Google counts all those links as one. So in this case, there’s nothing to worry about.

If you hire an SEO firm, ensure that you are aware of their link-building efforts. Sometimes, well-meaning but ignorant link building can result in SEO spam that does not go down too well with Google. Eschew all forms of unnatural link building. Paid links is a very bad idea, and a very poor substitute for outreach.

Private blog networks or PBNs are an example of spammy links that may yield short-term benefits but have been the undoing of many website owners.

To recap the steps you can take to eliminate SEO spam from your website:

  1. Use Google search console to monitor the links and health of your website.
  2. If your site platform is WordPress, install a good plugin that will monitor your website for you.
  3. Beware of emails asking you to link to an unfamiliar website. Just as important, make sure the website you link with isn’t an impostor of an authoritative site. Investigate requests that you delink from an authoritative site. It may be an impostor.
  4. Use the Google Disavow Tool to remove bad links but be aware of the drawbacks.
  5. If your site is hosted on a shared server, be mindful of hacks on your CPanel.

If you think SEO spam has affected your website’s rank, give us a call or send us a note. We can help.