Link Spam is a term used for a large number of irrelevant links to a particular site for the purpose of increasing search rankings in Google. For example, if you own a Deli and your website has backlinks from blogs about shoes, forums about working out, a site about popular baby names, whatever the case may be, not only are you not really targeting your customer, Google is doing everything they can to make sure all that work you put into getting all of these random links results in your page being ranked even lower.
To be fair, in most cases the business has no idea this is going on. It usually happens when they hire an affiliate marketer who does not specify where all these magical links or coming from, or sometimes an affiliate marketer will do this to a competing business on purpose knowing about Google penalties.
There was a time when businesses could get away with this sort of link spam for a time due to the massive number of sites and Google’s inability to keep up.
That is no longer the case. Here is what Google has been up to the last few years:
- Crawlers practically completely eliminate irrelevant links from search rankings now
- They have boosted the rankings for links from high authority sites (popular trusted sites, like Wikipedia for example).
- They penalize webpages with a negative ranking if they have links from sites which themselves have been penalized for Black Hat SEO.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Google’s goal has always been to provide searchers with the most relevant information possible for any search. They’re just getting a lot better at it. That’s actually not a bad thing though, because doing backlinks for SEO the right way isn’t that hard. We’d argue it’s easier actually.
- Make sure any links to your website are relevant. No matter how tempting it is to post links to your site from every source possible, don’t do it. If you’re a Deli, stick to sites, blogs and forums, about food, cooking, even kitchen apparel if you can tie your entry in somehow, like “We use Samurai Kitchen Knives exclusively at Big Sandwich Deli and can attest to their sharpness…” or whatever the case may be.
- Look for high authority sites and put extra effort into getting your site linked. This might mean hiring a professional, but the money spent on that one link will be more helpful than a hundred links from sites that do not have the same authority.
- If you notice a sudden drop in your page’s rank, look for any old irrelevant links you may have had or make sure any marketing company or affiliate is not using your link on an untrustworthy site.
- Only hire trusted companies for your marketing, especially SEO related marketing. If a deal sounds too good to be true, they are probably doing things like link spamming and it’s going to hurt more than help eventually.