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How do I find out if I have spammy backlinks
spammy links?

 2:02 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Here we go again: my website has been hit yet again :mad:

The only thing I can think of is that I may have spammy backlinks. I have 1500 backlinks but do not recognise all the sites that link back to me. How can I find out whether they are spammy and harm my website?

If I knew which links come from spammy sites I could disavow them with the disavow tool (a friend recommended that)

I got my links through
-article syndication to article site
- posting to social networking sites through onlywire
- guest-blogging to high quality sites
- writing on two forums that are related in content to my site that allow links (follow links)

Any advice would be appreciated.



 5:52 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

I don't think Google is trying to hurt small businesses like yours... they are trying to nix the link market and force everyone to follow rules that make their search engine "better". Unfortunately this comes with significant collateral damage, such as damaging small businesses, and this seems to be less of a concern to Google these days.


 7:39 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Nothing will happen IMHO.

Well according to John Mueller in the below video clearly states that as long as you clean up your act Google will forgive you...

I have my views on that statement however that's what he says.
the disavow is implemented without any user interaction

Statement about 3 minutes 30 seconds in

But that isn't anything different than I said.

What Google DID NOT SAY... they will FORGET!

Forgiveness about using webspam to get results isn't provided in miracle ranks... e.g. ranks without any links.

PENGUIN devalued the links

You reiterating that by disavowing those same links isn't going to provide a return of ranks that those disavowed & devalued links provided.

Go ahead and get NEW LINKS that are not related to the inorganic links you had and you'll rank again.


 8:04 pm on Jun 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

jakebohall what part of the below afforded recovery?

We have helped many clients recover rankings/traffic from Penguin and the successful process has always been the following:

1 - Pull all backlink data available (WMT, moz, ahrefs, majestic, blekko, old seo reports, etc.)

2 - Dump all of the links into Remove'em (disclosure: a tool we own) and let it filter out all the links that are already no-followed, site is 404'd, etc.. so we only sort through those that are live, followed links.

3 - Sort through all of the links to determine those that are good vs. bad. In the case of Penguin, any that look like bad links are bad links... any that look like good links but have targeted anchor text are bad links... any that are questionable links are bad links.

4 - Send out removal requests to all of the bad links. We sometimes send anywhere from 4 - 7 requests in an attempt to get the links removed. The first request is really nice and along the lines of "Hey, thank you for linking to us. We didn't request this link from your site, and it could be causing some issues for us. Do you mind no-following or removing the link? If someone asked you to place this link, can you let us know so we can track down who is responsible." ... The emails get more direct as time goes on.

5 - Once we have about 60 - 70% of all the "bad" links removed, we then take all the remaining links and dump them into a disavow file. We take the export of removal data and upload it into a Google doc... then we send in a reconsideration request advising exactly what happened, what action was taken, and reference the removal data and disavow data.

We have been successful on the majority of reconsideration requests using this method. In the cases where we weren't successful, we just had to do more legwork in removals and resubmit the request (rinse & repeat) until success.

I have not seen an instance where using the disavow tool by itself has done anything, and Matt Cutts even stated that you needed to try and remove the bad links before doing a RR.. [youtube.com...]

I'll concede that if you reduce your webspam below the detection threshold of PENGUIN's granular levels you could (maybe) get a modest recovery... but I don't understand these parts:

1. If you didn't need webspam to rank well why were such link developed?

2. Whether you devalue, delete, nofollow, or disavow a link - you in fact destroyed the link juice such links provided. Sites generally don't rank without links and the only way LESS LINKS provide recovery is that those good links left enhanced their overall value 'only after you dumped the bad links' in some way so to offset the fact you destroyed the said bad links.

Point #5

Once we have about 60 - 70% of all the "bad" links removed, we then take all the remaining links and dump them into a disavow file. We take the export of removal data and upload it into a Google doc... then we send in a reconsideration request advising exactly what happened, what action was taken, and reference the removal data and disavow data.

How does that help? You imply the Webspam Team can intervene in some way... I I know all the Webspam Team will do is "we didn't take manual action" (can't see how that changes things to a positive) or worse "thanks but you still have work to do and we have now taken manual action because you self-reported your webpsam"... and that doesn't work at all.

I don't see any "tasks" provided that recover anything.


 6:27 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I agree with fathom.

The Webspam team can only take action if you have been imposed a manual penalty. Panda and Pengiun are algorithmic changes and a reconsideration request would not do any good if your website is affected by it.


 11:39 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

5 - Once we have about 60 - 70% of all the "bad" links removed, we then take all the remaining links and dump them into a disavow file. We take the export of removal data and upload it into a Google doc... then we send in a reconsideration request advising exactly what happened, what action was taken, and reference the removal data and disavow data.

So once you submit reconsideration request for algorithmic penalties, how does Google respond to you? isn't it always "it was not a manual penalty"?


 3:37 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you have an algorithmic penalty (if your traffic immediately dropped when Penguin was updated, you do), don't tell Google you did something wrong by submitting a reconsideration request. Try very hard to pursue manual removal until you get below the threshold for the algorithmic Penguin penalty. Build good links in the meantime to help change how your link profile looks. If you can't get below the penalty threshold without disavowing, then use it, but it's a last resort.

Remember that in the post that discusses how to use the disavow tool [support.google.com] it says disavowing could take a number of weeks to have an effect. Be patient. Google put you in timeout because you were screwing around. The bigger the tantrum you throw about it, the longer you'll stay there. Once you get out of the proverbial corner, do more work to clean up your link profile while keeping link acquisition v. link decay rates in check because you know Google is only going to get stricter about link spam.

Remember, MC himself said they are reporting nearly 100% of all manual penalties, and the intent is to get to 100%. You don't need "reconsideration" if there isn't a manual penalty, you need to get below the algorithmic penalty threshold.


 8:22 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Our site has been affected too; we used to write 500 words articles and that used to work good earlier. But nowadays I don't think creating 500 words article will help your effort in search engine optimization. It will neither boost your traffic nor search engine ranking.

Nowadays social sharing of your content works great and Google also give high value to that kind of content. But it is not easy to create such content, because lots of factors are involved in this.

First and foremost you need to do lots of research so that you get yourself familiar with the topic what you are writing about. You need to maintain a transparency so you need to dig deep into the subject to give your readers a clear picture and make it interesting. That requires a great deal of time.

Provide as much information as you can.

All over make it a stellar one so that your visitors doesn't feel to urge to go somewhere else in search of same information


 9:02 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

So what do you do about links from dozems and dozens of rubbish directories that we have no control over, that probably get no visitors or traffic at all, that where neither requested or approved?

I`m confused!


 10:41 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

dozems and dozens of rubbish directories

Those would be DMOZ clones. I wouldn't worry about those. If search algorithms penalized sites listed in DMOZ clones it would have a negative effect in the SERPs because there are a great many quality sites listed in DMOZ.


 3:49 pm on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks martinibuster


 3:31 am on Jun 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

I dont buy this spammy link thing.
I got hit in the last penguin and i checked my backlinks. I found about 50 spammy links, but I don't think google even counts them nor penalizes you for it unless that all the links you have.

I checked my competitors and they have 100's of spammy links and they where not even affected.


 1:45 pm on Jun 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

Garya.... you have to look at it from a perspective of percentages, not volume. Everyone is going to naturally obtain a percentage of bad/spammy looking links from varying sites (sites that do hosting/whois style data, domain drop data, automated directories, etc..).

If you have a large portion of links with specific anchor text, that is where you start running some risks.

You might want to drop your domain into the free tool on this page and see how things look - [removeem.com...] - In full disclosure, Virante (my employer) owns Remove'em... You can also extract this type of data from ahrefs [ahrefs.com], opensitexplorer [opensiteexplorer.org], majestic [majesticseo.com], and several other link tools.

[edited by: martinibuster at 2:57 pm (utc) on Jun 10, 2013]
[edit reason] Added links to backlink checking tools. [/edit]


 2:15 pm on Jun 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

very interesting topic. Just one think i picked up and I'm not sure I understand it correctly. Is the use of Keywords in Anchor text risky ? I thought it is important to use such keyword anchor text ?




 3:05 pm on Jun 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

yes, it is risky if you have too many of them. google recognises that as forced seo since penguin. you need to have a 'natural' link profile.
'Natural links' rarely have a keyword in them.


 3:36 pm on Jun 14, 2013 (gmt 0)


Use of keywords in anchor text used to be very important, and now carries a high risk potential.

Google's algorithm is dedicated to identifying relevance and authority.. Years ago, relevance was given by showing a large number of the keyword on the page (why keyword stuffing worked), and getting links with that phrase... authority was determined by the number of links you were able to acquire and the authority of those linking to you.... This resulted in a lot of anchor text specific links from SEOs.

With the advance of LDA, topic modeling, and knowledge graphs, relevance is more reliably identified by simply looking at content onsite and the interactions of people with the site (think Panda).

Since most naturally occurring links carry the brand name or the url as the anchor text, those that try to game their rankings through link acquisitions stand out like a sore thumb against a natural backlink profile. Links still carry a lot of weight for authority, they just need to be more natural... which means more natural anchor text, more natural placements, and a more natural "growth" rate.


 3:44 pm on Jun 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

thanks Jakebohall, I have to do further research on: LDA, topic modeling, and knowledge graphs..

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