How to fight against SEO Spam
Black hat SEO. Spamdexing. Search engine spam. All these terms (and there are more) refer to SEO spam. And they are all bad. But don’t let these weird phrases scare you. There are ways to become aware of and fight against SEO spam, so your website and your business don’t suffer the consequences of it. And we’re here to help!
Let’s stick with the term SEO spam for our discussion. And let’s start with what it means. SEO stands for search engine optimization which is a process used to increase the amount of visitors to your website and ensure your site appears high on the list of search engine results, like on Google. Spam is an overarching term for any kind of unwanted digital communication – we probably most often use it to describe those annoying emails or phone calls.
What is SEO spam and how it affects you
So put the two words together and you’ve got SEO spam. It comes in different forms but they are all unethical or sketchy ways to boost website rankings. And we’re going to discuss them with you because it could be negatively affecting your business without you even knowing it. Google has also been addressing it with changing algorithms and other policies.
How will I know? Check your rankings
One way to know that your website has been hit with SEO spam is if you see a dramatic drop in your rankings. You might notice a drop in impressions, clicks or overall traffic to your site. If you’re not sure how to check your rankings or if you’re not familiar with impressions and click rates, no problem. We are experts and ready to help.
Another way SEO spam happens is through a cyber attack. If your website is vulnerable, hackers can target it and access your site through those weak spots. Hackers will fill your website with bad content, links and malware. Sometimes the embedded spam can be easily found and sometimes the codes are more hidden.
Some signs that your site might have been hacked with SEO spam include:
- Links to sites that you didn’t insert
- Categories, additional pages or content you didn’t post
- Links that redirect to other sites that don’t pertain to the content or your business
- Content in a different language
- Unexpected ads appearing
- Spam comments containing links
Sometimes SEO spam can be hard to detect. A SEO spammer will insert links into an existing article or blog on your site or even spoof a page (create a new page on your site that is from somewhere else not associated with your site) which creates a backlink to the spammers site. Sketchy, right?
Update and clean up your website
Two ways to stop SEO spam attacks is by updating your website and making sure it is secure. For example, are you using strong passwords? Updating your passwords regularly is a best practice for your online business security. If your website is out of date, or hasn’t been updated in two to three years, now is a good time. We specialize in designing custom websites while keeping your end goals in mind during the process, like gaining new customers.
If you’re not sure how to find SEO spam or you think you might have SEO spam but don’t know how to fix it, our experts can help. We can support you with the tools and expertise to update your website or find the SEO spam hidden within it.
Another way to make sure your website rankings don’t suffer, in relation to SEO spam, is to also make sure you are practicing good SEO strategies. We’ll explain.
Practicing your own SEO strategies
One way to fight against SEO spam is to practice good SEO strategies on your website. Since Google algorithms can detect the SEO spam, they also can detect misuse of SEO tactics. Using SEO strategies correctly will help your rankings. For example, when optimizing your website:
- Use the right keywords
- When including content like articles or blogs, create headlines to break up the information into sections
- Content should be original, helpful, educational and valuable to your customers or target audience
- Google and other search engines want content that is new and regularly updated
- Optimize your images
Ok, we’re gonna throw some more weird terms at you like keyword stuffing and cloaking. These are SEO strategies that you want to be aware of and avoid.
SEO practices to avoid
Let’s start with keyword stuffing. This is when your keyword or keywords are overused in your content to the point where the language doesn’t make sense or is unnatural writing. When adding keywords into your content, don’t overdo it. Place them with intent and without disrupting the readability of your content.
Cloaking, another SEO strategy to stay away from, is when a search result doesn’t match the information displayed. For example, a user searches with the term SEO spam. But when that user clicks on one of the results, it leads them to totally different information. To avoid this, make sure the content and meta tags you set up for your pages are relevant to the search terms you target. This will prevent you from unintentionally cloaking and will also improve your website ranking.
SEO strategies used the correct way
Hidden text or hidden content can be used correctly and incorrectly. Some incorrect ways, or the ways that will hurt your rankings, are putting white text on a white background, stuffing text within HTML without it appearing in the actual display of the site, or underneath elements of the page like images or videos.
But there are exemptions and correct ways to place hidden content, especially if the tactic improves user experience on your site. Using elements like accordion expanding lists or slideshow or carousel features improve your site. So they are ok!
Conclusion: Invest in your website
Your website is one of the most important investments of your company. In many cases, it is the first impression that a potential customer has of your business. Be careful and take care to watch for SEO spam attacks that can negatively affect your traffic and business. And when practicing your own SEO strategies, focus on relevant content, serving the users, and being creative not sketchy!
We can help with both the on-site and off-site work of SEO including proper website setup, incorporating best practices from sitemaps to website load speed. We can measure where you stand and the traffic you are getting. And we can also discuss with you social signals, blogging and relevant linking. There is a lot that goes into search engine optimization, but we certainly hope this discussion on SEO spam helps with your awareness and plan forward.