Maintaining a high search engine visibility is essential for attracting traffic to your site. External links are part of every SEO professional’s strategy to achieve valuable Organic ranking positions. But what happens when a site is unknowingly inundated with toxic, malicious, and other all-around ill-intended links?
On our latest episode of the Marketing Roundtable podcast, we reveal the most prevalent forms of spam links with remedies, preventative measures, and other insights from BrainDo’s own SEO Strategist, Tom Bendel.
Let’s jump in!
After realizing he wanted to leave his home state of Indiana, Tom moved to New York City to begin work as a physical therapy company’s social media and marketing coordinator.
Six months later, Tom became their Director of Marketing. This was when he first discovered his passion for SEO and immediately dove into learning as much as possible. Fast forward a few years, and he’s now a bonafide Search Engine Optimization Strategist here at BrainDo. He attributes a lot of his growth to learning from others:
“It is a consistent mix of knowing you want to be the best version of yourself but also knowing that to get there, you have to integrate your team in your daily life so that you can also learn and grow from them.”
Since joining BrainDo, Tom has also become a Digital Marketing Instructor, teaching students the fundamentals of digital marketing—including SEO, of course.
Tom made it clear to us that not all links come in peace. He explained that there are three categories of toxic links, also known as spam links:
“You have malware or malicious links, and those strategically attack your website,” he shared. “You then have Google or intentional marketing spam, and you also have direct spam.”
These spam types all have different purposes. Some attack your site, while others deceive search engines into believing a link has higher relevancy.
If you’re wondering how Google gets mixed up in spam tactics, don’t worry—so did our hosts! Being the expert he is, Tom had the answer.
When we asked Tom to expand on what Google spam or intentional marketing spam was, he stated that you would usually see messaging along the lines of:
“Submit your page or pay (x) amount to get links for your site.”
The act of buying links runs counter to Google’s best practices for Organic Search. This harkens back to our episode with Ron Sansone, BrainDo’s Vice President of SEO, in which we reviewed ethical versus nonethical SEO tactics. Ensuring your website appears in only relevant spaces to your business is vital.
While many digital marketers know that purchasing links is bad news, small business owners may not and can find themselves in a tough spot when they begin seeing the penalties. But what about those who are out here to purposefully cause harm?
Those are known as malicious links.
Tom noted that malicious links are commonly referred to as a “bait and switch” tactic, meaning that the links mimic other businesses in an attempt to draw in the user. They may sound something like: “Your Amazon account may be locked. Click here to fix it.”
Clicking those links allows your computer to be attacked by spyware, malware, bots, and more. Social engineering tactics such as phishing often follow this type of approach.
The last type of link explored in this episode is similar to the malicious link, but it is used to redirect visitors to the spam site itself.
Direct spam occurs when a spammer appends a parameter onto one of your URLs, and the parameter, if working correctly, redirects you to a spam site. Alternatively, a site can be hacked to have code injected within a website, creating spammy content blocks or even entire spam webpages on a target website. If left unchecked, a site can quickly become bogged down with these direct spam links, some of which may even inadvertently (and detrimentally) indexed by Google.
So what can you do to prevent your site from falling prey? You’ll have to watch the full episode to find out.
As an experienced marketing professional, Tom brought a broader perspective to why having SEO-friendly links on your site is essential. Tune into the full episode for spam link prevention, remedies, and more.
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