Many a times, it so happens that with or without your knowledge sites that you don’t even known of start linking to you. Two use case scenarios – Some spam websites, copy RSS feeds and constantly keep linking to a website, or sometimes an SEO vendor whom you hired goes haywire posting links all across spammy websites. Either will result in only thing – your site being disqualified fully or partly against certain search terms or categories.
I’ve come across an example where a reputed website which hired an SEO agency that was give instructions to build links on a particular term, and resulted in adding up a ton of spammy links with the exact same anchor text (the targeted term). In three months, the site was completely taken out of Google web index, for that particular term, while retaining its rank for the other terms. This was clearly a case of link spamming or artificial link building.
This kind of situations can be tricky for webmasters as they have no control over who throws links at them. It can also happen that if your competitor wants to tarnish you on search engines, all they need to so is hire a spammy SEO agency and ask them to rank you for the targeted keyword. Three months down the line, you will be no where on the index.
Luckily, Google has a solution.
Google Engineer Matt Cutts posted yesterday that now on, webmasters might receive messages in their webmaster’s console if Google detects spammy links pointing to their website. Earlier, Google used to send messages this way, only if they were taking action against a site for building spammy links. But now, Google realizes that there are instances where the webmaster is unaware of such spammy links pointing their sites, ones that could harm their reputation. So, if Google comes across such spam links, it would notify you via the messages in the Webmaster’s console.
Steps to remove spam backlinks pointing to your site: The Google way
Go to Webmaster’s Console > Traffic > Links to your site > Download Latest Links
This will give you the entire list of newly acquired links Google has detected to your site. You could do this with a backlinks explorer SEO tool, like the SEO Moz, Explorer tool which would pull up a lot more links than Google, but it makes sense to use the Google Webmaster’s tool because these are the links that Google detected and probably only those makes sense to be dealt with at the moment. Side note: I would also reassure by matching Google’s data with SEO Moz Explorer tool (or any other link scanning tool.), just to be sure that not many links are missed.
Submit a reconsideration request.
You have to be the webmaster of the website in question to be submitting a reconsideration request. What you should do is provide Google a short and precise description of the problem, whom you hired, why you think the unnatural list of spam links popped up, give the list of entire spam links, mark against them which you have already taken off, and if there are any that couldn’t be removed, the reason for it and the like. Google appreciates complete transparency in this matter, so do not hesitate to put in all relevant information.
What if a website purposefully spams me?
There are instances where websites take money to put up links as well as take them down. What these websites do are trying to manipulate Google Page Rank and authority factors by artificial links. Google encourages reporting such websites to Google, through the Webmaster’s Forum or a filing a spam report.
Spam Report can be used to report:
- Sites offering paid links.
- Sites/pages with objectionable content.
- Sites with copyright violations.
- Sites disclosing private information.
- General phishing or hacking attempts.
It is a great to see Google taking steps to fight spam within and outside a website, within and outside the webmaster’s control. I personally, have seen a lot of activity around websites trying to take down another website with spam links (if they can’t pull it on their own), and getting away with it. The “innocent” website does not realize most of the time what happened, unless an SEO does a backlink analysis and identifies a pattern.
Now that Google have started alerting webmasters for unnatural spam activities towards a website, it makes life a lot more easier to webmasters. Just that, we got to stay on top of things and act quick.