Ever since Google has clamped down on spam links by blacklisting sites and citing official warnings, saboteurs have been targeting competitors with SEO spam. In fact, Google created an awareness post about cleaning up spam links and one of their “examples” was discovered to be link spam that was not related to the person in question, but was rather a competitor’s efforts to devalue the site entirely.
Due to public outrage, Google launched their disavow tool in October where site masters can tell Google which links they do not want counted by submitting a link list. This does not solve the problem.
If you ever receive an “unnatural link” alert from Google, be careful. Before you hastily ask for it to be overlooked make sure you have taken into account a number of factors. If you get the format wrong you can end up removing valuable links by mistake that can take months to get back. It seems Google is offloading some of its own work on webmasters themselves.
Another issue that arose is that good links can sometimes turn bad; Spammers leaving comments on your awesome PR7 page, once popular article banks being over used and hosting links on a perfectly good site when suddenly other webmasters decided to disavow their links.
This also proves a massive overtaking for those who submitted their pages to bulk directories. You will have to painstakingly contact each website and ask for the link to be removed. Good for Google, not so good for some SEO experts.
Now that link checking is manual, with Google not taking the time to check if a link is coming off a bulk pay-to-play page or a legitimate site, webmasters will have to monitor inbound links on a daily basis. While it may not be your fault that a couple of rogue sites link up, you will have to go through the official Google process to not have your rankings effected.
Oh, but don’t worry. Large companies will be able to safely ignore the regulation as they can blame a rogue contractor (As Google chases brand ad dollars) but small to medium businesses will be treading softly to not make waves.
Some things to look out for:
- Competitors can locate sites that link to you and leave a high number of spammy comments hoping you will freak out and disavow the entire domain.
- Competitors intentionally spam linking to themselves so smaller businesses follow suit (copycats) , and then disavowing all links ensuring that the copycats get penalized.
- Competitors can look for sites that link to you, buy a ton of links, then disavow them, placing the pages on a blacklist.
- A webmaster can leave his job on bad terms and then tunnel spam to your company’s website.
It is still early days to know just how detrimental some of Google’s new policies will be on the current SEO landscape. But one thing is for sure, they will need to play a fair game or face a serious backlash.