How Spam Links Can Affect your Site's SEO and Adwords

When it comes to optimizing your site for SEO, link building is one of the most important measures to gain good standing in Google searches. While you may strive to make your website SEO friendly, the presence of spam links will largely hamper your site’s visibility and disrupt its SEO ranking.

What are Spam Links?

Bad links refer to links obtained through black hat SEO techniques. These are obtained through posting out of context links on forums, websites, blog comments or any medium which displays user comments without any value.

Link spams are used to increase the number of external links to the sites the spammer wishes to promote. A large number of outbound links made to one source increases a page’s rank and improves its position in search engines result, resulting in higher no of visitors and more revenue.

How Spam Links Can Affect your Site's SEO and Adwords
Image Source: ahrefs

How Spam Links can affect your site’s SEO

Google applies penalties on site’s indulging in low-quality link building. Such sites undergo punitive action and resultantly would often see their ranking go down overnight. Here’s how Google penalizes link manipulators:

  1. Manual link spam penalty: In this case, someone from Google’s spam team would review your profile and apply a penalty manually. This review could be triggered by either a competitor’s spam complaint, your reputation as a competitor in your niche or presence of spam links in your profile triggered an algorithmic search. You may receive the following message from Google in your search console:
    How Spam Links Can Affect your Site's SEO and Adwords
    Image Source: KissMetrics
  2. Algorithmic Link Spam Penalty: Google has rolled out Penguin in an effort to reward high-quality websites and diminish the search engine manipulators. Through various updates over the years, Penguin has become adept at catching spam links and penalizing sites. If you’ve received an algorithmic penalty, you won’t get a notification, but rather witness a plummeting organic traffic, something like this:How Spam Links Can Affect your Site's SEO and Adwords

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Which Link building tactics can affect your site’s SEO?

Some link building techniques poised to get you into trouble and affect your site are:

  1. Links from hacked sites: Some sites exist solely for the purpose of linking out. Building links on hacked sites can lead to your site getting penalized affect your traffic adversely.
  2. Links from spun articles: Blackhat marketers advocate for article spinning whereby an article is spun into numerous gibberish articles linking back to the original site. This technique is highly discouraged.
  3. Comment Spam: A black hat link building tactic, comment spam is often an automated technique and often leads to a Google penalty.
  4. Paid links: Not all paid links are considered wrong. Only those which are non-editorial and designed to pass PageRank. This allows them to influence their rankings and come under Google’s scanner.
  5. Forum spam: Spamming forums by either creating multiple profiles or using software to post links in multiple posts can often lead to a penalty.
  6. Bad Quality Directories: Using low-quality directories like these not only fail to work but also end to penalization of your site.
     How Spam Links Can Affect your Site's SEO and Adwords
    Using low-quality directories like these not only fail to work but also end to penalization of your site.

Another bad link building SEO technique is blog networks. In order to draw huge traffic to their sites, people pay to contribute to fake blogs which can link back to their own site. These fake blogs are poorly written content, low quality and contain external spam links.

Among others, Link baiting and switching are also practiced as a cheap technique to bait visitors into clicking on links which may seem credible but later is replaced by an advertisement or a financially befitting page.

The recent Japanese SEO spam is an example of the above link baiting technique, wherein blackhat SEO technique hijacks Google search results by displaying Japanese words in the title and description of the infected pages. This will automatically generate a Japanese SEO spam page when using a Content Management System (CMS) like OpenCart, Magento, Drupal or WordPress.

Another example of  SEO spammers is the notorious WordPress Pharma hack or SEO Spam. This attack redirects WordPress or Drupal websites to pages that display advertisements selling viagra and cialis. This attack is difficult to detect because it is not visible directly while visiting a website.

How spam links affect Adwords?

Ads are a major source of revenue for most businesses. But using spam links to mislead a user into clicking on your ad can end up being penalized by Google. An example of clickbait is if you claim in your ad that you offer Free Web Hosting but on clicking you secretly charge money for it. Deceptive ads also include using other people’s content without their knowledge or making unrealistic claims about your product.

The following tactics could lead you in a pitfall:

  • Cloaking: Showing a different site to the Google editorial team and showing a completely different one to the user can essentially lead to your site getting banned by Google.
  • Promoting your websites by creating several Google AdWords accounts
  • Degraded Quality: In case your ads are programmed to simply generate traffic and does not provide a good user experience, then Google will suspend your ads.
  • Infected accountIf your account has infected or malicious ads, then Google will ban them. This is to protect visitors and prevent any spread of malware through mal advertisements.

In any of these cases, if Google feels your services are deceptive, you’re likely to earn Ads suspension. Also, if you use more than one Google Adwords account for the same business, you may get suspended.

Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that your ads adhere to Google’s AdWords policies and are worded cautiously to not end up misrepresenting your products.

How to avoid Spam Link Building?

If you’ve been hit by a link penalty, disavowing low-quality sites is the first step on the road to recovery.

In case of a manual penalty, cleaning up your site and submitting a reconsideration request would work. For precautionary measures, indulge is proper link building practices by writing genuinely good content and linking to authentic sources

Here is a basic checklist highlighting key points to follow to avoid bad link building is:

1. Avoid linking to non-trustworthy links (Spam)
2. Strictly moderate user-generated content on your site in form of spam comments and apply a no follow to outgoing forums links or comments
3. Refrain from linking to sites having poor quality content
4. Assign the no-follow attribute to your paid (affiliate) links and also links for sale.
5. Regularly review your site and perform cleanups to eliminate broken outbound links.

Need help with protecting your site against malicious adware and regularly monitor your site for impending malware? Get in touch with Astra to avail its Web Security Services.

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About The Author

Bhagyeshwari Chauhan

An engineering grad and a technical writer, Bhagyeshwari blogs about web security, futuristic tech and space science.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing more info about spam links! Learned a lot!

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