Let’s try and play word association. So, what’s the 1st thing that comes to mind when you observe the word PENGUIN? If you have been thinking about a flightless, cute bird, there’s nothing wrong with your thoughts. Congratulations on that. However, if you immediately thought of spam backlinks, link schemes, and Google penalties, your tastes are very singular. This means that you are working in SEO! So, feel free to be proud of what you do and think.
But, did you know that people have found out that even if users distinguish a penguin from Penguin, they can’t stop spam backlinks from hurting the ranking of their websites? That’s because we are inclined to acknowledge every new backlink is good. Besides, that is not the only case. This is why we wish to discuss bad backlinks, how they hurt your rankings, and what one must do to stop such backlinks from doing so.
Why would you care about spam backlinks?
We know what you’ve been thinking. Every time we obtain a new backlink, we make a tiny step towards ideal search positions. And, the more, the merrier. Having said that, backlinks should be great, aren’t they? That’s entirely wrong. And, if that’s not completely absurd, this isn’t right. Here’s something you need to know. Most backlinks are pretty nasty in that they throw a shadow on the entire backlink profile you have been building for an extended period. This shadow might eventually lead to several Google penalties.
Not every backlink is equal. At the back of search engine optimization is a factor called spam backlink, a link redirecting to a page placed on an irrelevant and trashy website with rundown, ill-fitted anchor text. This is not good for your image as well. Well, that is what Google thinks of it.
Such a bad backlink comes from cheap Fiverr gigs or a link network. In several cases, if you tend to discover that many Chinese and Russian domains are suddenly linking to your site, it can be an excellent indicator of low-quality backlinks. Remember, quantity is essential here. There are sure to be some spam backlinks for your site already. However, if there are too many, it will look like you are trying to utilize shade SEO approaches to manipulate the rankings. Consequently, Google can take specific actions against you.
That is exactly what they developed Google Penguin for. It fights against bad links. Moreover, the algorithms of Google Penguin make the internet a better place for everyone else to work seamlessly and honestly.
Sidenote – A few sentences of boring historical data!
You probably think about where all these bad/good backlinks buzz comes from. From the very first day, backlinks are a robust ranking signal for various search engines. Furthermore, website owners try to gain as much as possible to succeed in this SEO rally. This was when all the shady link-building strategies appeared.
Bloggers have been going nuts putting links to their sites in all places—on forums, in the comment sections, on link farm websites (existing solely to place all types of links on them), or within link directories. Besides, at some point, Google quoted ‘enough’ to such manipulation. Back in 2012, they also rolled out the Penguin algorithm. Its primary goal was to fight against backlink spammers and penalize their websites.
Where do spam backlinks come from?
Google has taken action. They began banning “link schemes” and again stated that “links have to manipulate PageRank or a website’s ranking in various search results might be considered a link scheme’s part and a breach of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
This implies that the search engine can eliminate you from their search queries if you are spamming links. Just imagine how foul that would be. You might ask why this should matter to you if you are not dealing with bad SEO tactics and you have undoubtedly never bought a single link in your life. Speaking of which, that is because of bad SEO, as spam backlinks are some of the wide-known lousy SEO tactics.
If you didn’t know, bad SEO strategies are what competitors can perform to harm the rankings of your business. And, as demeaning as it sounds, you might not find who’s attacking your ranks. All you must do is defend yourself. The term is a bit plain and opposite to “positive SEO”—a blend of positive measures you adhere to in order to optimize your site correctly and get it ranked higher on the SERPs.
For example, your competitor brands can hack your company website (worst case scenario) and send fake reports about your site to a search engine giant like Google. Moreover, they can also build a ton of low-level links to your website and get it penalized. If you fall victim to a bad SEO attack, it’s imperative to s[pot that early on and take measures against it. However, eliminating bad backlinks is seamless if you, obviously, know the trick.
What do you do if your website has spam backlinks?
First things first, take deep breaths and try to relax. After what you have just pondered upon, you probably would want to check on your guided backlinks and report all to Google to be on the safer side. Moreover, relax! In case you are involved in unashamed link manipulation, Google won’t publish you for some spam backlinks. One must check the backlink profile regularly and clean it from spam websites. The entire process of eliminating and battling spam backlinks comes to the following simple steps given in the rundown:
- Compile a comprehensive list of every toxic domain (in .txt format).
- Also, detect all spam backlinks your website comprises.
- Disavow those backlinks from Google with the assistance of the Google Disavow Tool.
How to detect spam backlinks from a website?
You will come across a tricky part in every process. An ideal way is to look for toxic backlinks and review them. However, how do you approach and find spammy links and then audit your site yourself? The most seamless way is by selecting some of the specialized SEO tools.
If you’ve been thinking about these toolsets as precise instruments only veterans would need, think again. Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, or Majestic are suitable for a standard checkup on your website’s health. Moreover, there is no ideal way to battle out spam links. They are just there in the system. But we’ll try and explore some processes on Ahrefs. Another side note that you must know is that these days, many SEO tools try to look for an automated service that can accurately determine foul links the right way.
For example, SEMrush introduced its Backlink Audit Tool that quotes that your domain is at significant risk of being penalized. But, no tool can be as concise and precise as the manual review. Well, at least, at this point, you must make a note of it. Moreover, it would be best if you noted that looking for bad links is more than 90% of all the work. When you’re done, you will only be required to upload an array of toxic domains to Google and enjoy the win.
There are a couple of working methods to find spam backlinks:
- Method 1. Detect low-quality sites that link to your website.
- Method 2. Identifying spammy keywords and anchor texts.
Before proceeding with each method, consider creating a .txt file into which you can throw every bad link. With that said, you’ll have to send this specific file to Google. Once done, ready to cut the bad ones into ribbons.
Method 1. Detect low-quality sites that link to your website.
In simple words, a low-level link will originate from low-quality websites. Doesn’t it sound natural? So, one of the only things you should commit to is finding trashy sites. Various tools utilize their metrics to determine how robust a specific domain is. SEMrush has its Domain Score, Moz employs Domain Authority, and the list continues. In Ahrefs, it’s referred to as Domain Rating (and just DR).
Here’s how you can find out that “fly in the ointment”:
- Put the domain into the Ahrefs Site Explorer. Then, locate the option “Backlink profile” on the left side of the menu. What you’ll require for a further audit is its “domains” report that can show an entire list of websites linking to you.
- The following step is to sort out the referring websites by quality—from the lowest DR to the highest ones. To perform this, click on the corresponding column.
- Post that, do not rush into taking off all backlinks from low-DR sites. It would be best if you investigated every suspicious domain. Having said that, look for common spam indicators like spammy-sounding domains, foreign (specifically Russian (.ru) or Chinese (.cn)) domains, websites that don’t belong to your industry/niche, etc.
- After acknowledging a suspicious domain, consider clicking on the number under the “Backlinks” dashboard for more details on every backlink that comes from it. This is the last step of ensuring that a provided backlink looks at its anchor text or keyword. Well, if that sounds too suspicious and incoherent and does not coincide with your industry, it is the most reliable and robust signal of a spam backlink.
- You could also click on suspicious links to check if the content piece on that particular page is of a low level. Post this, and be ready to disavow your findings from Google.
Method 2. Identify spammy anchor texts.
Yet another way to look for spam backlinks is to determine the anchor texts immediately. In simple terms, you must spot many similar and irrelevant anchors that don’t reflect your page’s content. This is your wake-up call. Indeed, these links are spam and can cause Google to penalize your website.
In other terms, it is no good if the video game blog you own is linked to a dozen sites under the keyword “adult videos.” you wouldn’t like it, right? It’s gross and does not add up. This might even leave Google bots confused and overwhelmed. Again, good old tools can be handy for such a task. Most offer such a feature as separate reports within their tools.
Moreover, in Ahrefs Site Explorer, the required report is known as “Anchors” and is found in the left menu. To locate such bad backlinks, consider hitting the details button around the identified suspicious keyword or anchor text, and you will obtain complete spam referring domains.
What’s The Verdict?
Spammy backlinks are more annoying than hurtful. However, there’s an evident possibility they could damage your site’s reputation on Google and other search engines. That’s why it is essential never to offer them a chance to do this. As a result, ingrain checking your backlink profiles routinely. Furthermore, It’s an excellent idea to get into it in case you observe sudden traffic inflation or drop that you might not be able to explain. In the end, specialists quote that investing in an ideal SEO toolset can be influential if you are serious about keeping the website healthy and safe. These regular checkups can save you from spam overload and provide great content ideas or manual outreach opportunities.