In the following article, we will look at ways to find spam links on your website. Spam Links are one of the most common types of Negative SEO and can end up having adverse effects on your site’s rankings.
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What is Negative SEO?
To put it simply, negative SEO involves any practice aimed at sabotaging the search rankings of a competitor’s site. It can range from hacking a website to creating toxic backlinks to a site, writing fake reviews about a brand, or creating duplicates of a website. All these practices can lead to a fall in one’s hard-earned SEO rankings.
Types of Spam Links You Should Avoid
Most links that are not relevant to your site generally fall in the category of bad backlinks. However, there are some types of backlinks that you would never want to link to your website:
- Links from domains that are penalized
- Links from foreign language sites
- A high number of links from unrelated sites
- Links from link farms and directories
- A high number of exact-match anchor text links
- Links from ‘bad neighborhoods’ i.e. sites related to porn, online gambling, etc.
- Links from sites with viruses
- Links from non-Google indexed sites
So, how does one avoid spam links?
While Google’s algorithms have improved over the years and it has learned how to avoid spam links, it is necessary for every organization to check their website’s backlinks from time to time to ensure that there are no bad or fake links on their site. There are several tools available to help you detect these spammy links, like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console. It is also a good idea to check the same using multiple tools as sometimes different tools may give different answers. Let us browse through the various ways each of these tools are used:
With SEMrush, one can audit their backlinks using the Backlink Auditing Tool. The Backlink Auditing tool aims to help remove as many toxic links on your domain as possible. You would need to sort these links into separate links based on how bad or toxic they are. You can even import a list of backlinks to be audited in CSV format.
The sorting options are based on your next course of action i.e. Whitelist, Remove, or To Disavow. SEMrush gives each link a ‘Toxic Score’ and gives details about the toxic markers behind the score. It uses 45 different toxic markers to establish the Toxic Score for the backlink. One can segregate these further using filters for the toxic markers. The filters allow you to narrow down your list of audited backlinks to those that have a higher priority for your specific goal.
It is suggested that when one finds a toxic backlink, they should reach out to the site owner and ask them for a link removal before using the Disavow Tool. The ‘Remove’ list in the Backlink Audit Tool lets you build a list of links that you can reach out to manually and ask for removal. However, this will work only if you have an e-mail address to reach that domain. If you do not have an e-mail address, you can use the Disavow button.
To identify bad links using Ahrefs, below are the steps that need to be followed:
- Enter your domain into the Site Explorer tool and go to the‘Referring domains’report from the menu on the left. Here, you will get to view all the domains that link to a particular website.
- These domains can be sorted by various metrics. To look for low-quality sites, click on the DR (Domain Rating) metric. It will sort the links from the lowest domain rating to the highest. A lower domain rating could also mean that the site from where the link came from is new.
- Every low-ranking link needs to be checked to confirm if it is a bad link. One way to know this is to check for foreign domains or sites that belong to a different sector.
- When you detect a domain that looks suspicious, click the number under the ‘backlinks’ column for more details. Check the anchor text of the link, and if it looks dubious, it is most probably a spam link. You can even visit the page to check its content. You can also click on a suspicious link to verify if the information on that page is low-quality.
- Ahrefs Site Explorer also has an ‘Anchors’ report. In case there are many irrelevant anchors, the links are most likely spam. You can even check the referring domains and backlinks through the report to verify the same.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console has an option to submit a disavow file to Google. Here, you create a list with all the links you want the search engine to ignore as a text file. It can then be uploaded and submitted through the Google Search Console. You also need to check what links you choose to disavow, as removing a high-quality link can result in a drop in your rankings. Google, too, states that you should disavow backlinks only if:
- You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and
- The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site.
Also, the Disavow tool does not support Domain Properties.
For more details on how to remove spam links on Google Search Console, visit https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2648487?hl=en.
For more information on how to detect and remove spam links, get in touch with the Couchdeck Digital Marketing Team, and let us help you build a website free from Negative SEO. Call us at +91 22 4148 3000 or mail us at [email protected], and we would be happy to assist you!