Spammy backlinks are like fossils, they are everywhere once you know what to look for. Most spammy links are found in comment spam, PBN links, blog network links, forum spam, & low quality guest posts.
These can be a result of negative SEO practices , and/or simply an unauthorised spam link building campaign.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve gone through the arduous task of manually identifying and disavowing these links yourself or via a third party SEO agency such. Let’s take an in-depth look on each of the following types of spammy backlinks links.
Most comment spam is easily spotted, but what’s not easy to spot is the link that they often leave behind in their comment.
Google has made it possible for webmasters to disable or remove these via Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). To do this, click into your site and then into “Search Traffic” followed by “links to your site” .
You should see a list of all backlinks pointing to your website, from here you can simply click on each link and add it as a disavow/remove/ignore rule. Doing so will block the backlink from showing up in any future GWT reports.
In many cases, these are automatically posted by software designed for this purpose. Comment votes from bots may also be included in order to make the backlink more visible when someone browses through the comments.
Spam blogs often have a case study page where you can see all their recently built links. Check them against a site: search for your website in google, then take a look at the “Linked From” results at the bottom of each page just before “Related Links”:
Private blog network (PBN) spam is a type of web spam that tries to make money by selling links or entire websites in order to deceive search engines into making them rank higher. A lot of PBNs are built on the same networks, so in many cases it’s possible you might find your competitor’s site with an “n/a” in the DA column.
Blog Network Spam
Blog network spam is another type of website spamming related to private blog networks. Rather than posting links directly to your site, they will place them on their own network instead. There are thousands of these networks out there which makes it difficult for Google’s web spam team to deal with.
Paid Forum Spam
While not as common these days, paid forum spam is still relevant to the industry. This type of site uses paid subscriptions for users and bots to add links with a generic anchor text to thousands of forums all over the web.
The idea behind this strategy was that most users would never check out who had added a link in their posts, but most would click it anyway. In some cases, you can find interesting “marketing” ideas on these spam blogs that will help you build your own PBN linking strategies if you are using one already.
Low Quality Guest Posts
Guest Posting is a great way to build links, but if you are not careful with your link building strategy, it can backfire. Low quality guest posts usually have spammy links added in them by the author or their team.
This usually happens when they want to improve their website’s rankings, or because they were paid for that post. The best way to check these types of blog posts is using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer search function and look for “nofollow” tags in their code.
If you find a really good guest post, let them know so they can change the tag. This will help your website get more links in the future without getting penalised by Google. You should also double-check all backlinks pointing to your site using this tool, and disavow any that you don’t like or didn’t ask for.
Google Penguin Updates
The last type of spammy link is one that has been added by an unauthorised PBN owner or SEO agency without your permission. This white hat tactic is often used by agencies who are trying to improve their clients’ rankings when other methods fail.
The idea behind this tactic is that you will be able to boost your rankings, and then they can sell links or entire PBNs for profit.
Why Is It Called Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is a phrase that refers to the practice of unethical people who would submit negative links to your website. This type of web spamming can come from many different sources including competitors, haters, and those trying to make money on the side. They will often try to cloak their intent by submitting these links on threads, comments on blogs and forums or even paid ads on Google.
What Are The Signs That You Have Been Affected By Negative SEO?
The first sign would be a sudden drop in ranking as Google removes those pages from its index. It’s difficult to identify the exact page that has been affected because it could be any page linked from such spammy backlinks.
Secondly, a penalty may be imposed by Google which can result in a lowered ranking and a loss of traffic. Luckily, there are dozens if not hundreds of SEO companies out there who can help identify and remove these negative links.
What Can You Do To Remove Such Links?
Removing negative links from your site is a two step process. On the one hand, you need to identify and remove these links on a site by site level. For example, every website on the network will have a different backlink profile so you need to investigate each one of them individually.
Secondly, it is essential to implement a disavowal strategy to inform Google that those links should not be counted as part of their ranking algorithms. A disavowal can take place as an individual action or as a website-wide request via Webmaster Tools. In the case of the latter, make sure all spammy links are removed from each website first before going through this process.