The sort of spam we are going to be discussing isn’t those annoying emails from a lawyer asking you to get in touch to claim your $20 million-dollar inheritance (if only!). Instead, it is what Google considers spam tactics used to game the SEO of a website.
There shouldn’t really be any confusion over what is considered spam in the eyes of Google, because they have published guidelines and regular updates to its definitions. While you may not deliberately intend using spammy or blackhat tactics, you could do so accidentally. Unfortunately, in Google’s imaginary SEO courtroom ignorance is no defence, and the punishment is lower ranking or worse, deindexing for your website.
Side note: Read this for why you might want pages of your website deindexed.
If you employ a consultant or an agency to carry out your SEO, it will help you to ensure they are not putting your website at risk, if you know what these spam tactics are. Hopefully, you will have employed a reputable SEO company, but being able to spot if they are up to dodgy practices, is no bad thing.
The way in which Google determine whether they consider your website to be spammy or not is by checking for ‘spam flags’. These are indicators which their crawlers find when they visit your website. Having just one or two isn’t good, but it may not be enough to have your website banned, but if they find several of these spam flags, then it could be curtains for your site.
Here are the 5 main spam flags that you must avoid.
#1 Malicious, or Harmful Content: This is a no-brainer but if you have any content on your website that is malevolent and directs hate towards a person or group of people, then Google regard that as spam.
The harmful element is regarding anything on your website that uses phishing to try to gain access to a user’s personal information, and their financial information. This is obviously different from legitimate e-commerce activities where you use a proper merchant account.
#2 Few Links on a Large Website: Google is suspicious of large websites with 50 or more pages which have very few hyperlinks linking out to external websites and resources. This also applies if there are very few internal links between the pages of the website. It is regarded as being unnatural and flags up the potential for this website to be a spam site which is low quality and has zero trust.
#3 Too Much Anchor Text: While anchor text is useful for hyperlinking and showing Google the relevance of a keyword phrase to your website, it can be overdone. If every link you have internally, or coming from outside has anchor text, and they tend to be the same or very similar keywords, Google regards this is trying to cheat the system and flags them as spam.
#4: Not Enough Branded Links: In relation to the previous spam flag, one way to reduce anchor text links is to have a fair proportion of your links as branded links, with just the raw website URL. Google likes to see a reasonable proportion of branded links to a website as it suggests that the linking is being done legitimately.
#5 No Contact Information: Why any legitimate business would omit contact information on their website is a mystery, which Google answers by assuming that only dodgy businesses would do so. A website without contact information could be considered a spam site by Google, especially if there are other spam flags.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there is data which suggests that almost 45% of visitors will leave a website if they cannot see any contact information. So, if you do not yet have a ‘contact us’ page with your company’s contact details you could be losing nearly half of your visitors and your ranking could be pushed way down by Google. You know what to do!