Dofollow Backlinks are the heart of SEO. It provides a way for users to find other sources of information on related topics.
Whenever purchasing a website or an expired domain there are a lot of risks that need to be considered. One of the biggest is the exposure to a Google Penalty based on the sites backlink profile (penguin or manual un-natural link penalty).
In this article I will show you the 9 common kinds of backlink SPAM and how to quickly spot them.
For an even more in depth guide on performing due diligence before you purchase a website checkout https://www.motioninvest.com/buying-websites-for-sale/
With both my expired domain finding service and my recent focus on purchasing a couple of websites I have been deep diving into analyzing backlinks.
What is the Risk?
Several months ago I purchased a website which I knew had paid for a few links. I believe as a result of those links the site went from making close to $1,000 in the first month I purchased it(after making monetization changes) down to $250/month due to a penalty!
I was aware of the links and believed I priced the risk fairly into the purchase ($4k to buy the site)…unfortunately for me the site got hit pretty quickly after purchasing.
The 9 Types of Backlink Spam
I use MajesticSEO(not an affiliate link) to analyze backlinks because of the graphic representation of the link profile which makes it incredibly easy to quickly see the quality of the backlink profile.
PART 1 – ANCHOR TEXT
Anchor Text manipulation is pretty easy to spot in Majestic SEO. Using the Anchor Text section there are 2 key things to look for..
- First unnatural anchor text density
- Secondly obvious SPAM in anchor text keywords (porn/poker/pharmaceutical or completely un-relevant keywords)
- Obvious SPAM in Anchor Text
- classic-purse.com – This example is subtle! Often the spam is far more obvious with Porn/Pharmaceutical/Poker or other highly SPAMMED niches like PayDay loan anchor text. Whenever there are obvious signs of anchor text manipulation avoid it! In cases like the one below we need to ask ourselves if the anchor text could naturally occur in the way that it is being shown?
PART 2 – LINK METRICS
- Large difference Trust Flow to Citation Flow – Links build naturally should be balanced between citation flow and trust flow (or for MOZ PA/DA should not show a large (~3x or more) difference between them)
- bushybride.ca – Here there is an obvious mis-match with Trust Flow = 2 and Citation Flow = 15. Ideally we want that ratio to be close to 1:1 but anywhere up to 1:3 can naturally occur but be cautious whenever you get below 1:2 Trust:Citation.
- Root to URL completely different – This one is often miss-understood. When there are good metrics for one domain and then none for another it often means that links were intentionally built to one URL and then none to another. This represents link manipulation!
- goteamintraining.com – Here the metrics on the Root Domain are ok but then the metrics at URL are non-existent!
- Concentration of Links on the TF vs CF Map – This is one of the reasons why Majestic is so great. A quick look at the TF vs CF graph can tell a lot about the backlink profile. The ideal graph is a series of domains spread along the line moving 1:1 from the origin. Two indications of a SPAMMY backlink profile is when there is an unreasonable concentration of links all in one location or when all the links are low trust. On the graph each dot represents a single link and the Trust and Citation score of that link.
- whoswhere.ca – In this example shown below there are 2 concentration and another grouping along the bottom representing Trust Flow on each of those links of ZERO. Typically what occurs is when a link building service is purchased a lot of the links will come from similar sites with the same CF/TF which results in concentrations on the TF vs CF graph.
- bedandbreakfastparksville.ca – Here there is one single high density concentration of links, there is a chance with this link profile that it could occur naturally but this is a warning flag. Whenever there is a single concentration of links on the TF vs CF graph there is a reasonable expectation that the links are artificially created.
PART 3 – TYPE OF LINKS
- Non-Relevant Link Pages/Directories/Blog Network Pages
- legal-professionals.net (non-relevant links) – Non-relevant backlinks like the ones to this site provide no value.
- trendier-diaper-bags.com (directory) – Here is an example of a site that only uses directory links. Relevant human-reviewed directories are good but having only non-relevant free directories are bad!
- nadafhospitality.com (directory) – Here is another example of too many low value link/directory pages.
- howtotreatkidneystones.net (PBN & Hacked Sites) – Sometimes most metrics can look good but when you visit the pages linking to it it becomes obvious the links are all blog network links or sites that have been hacked.
- kitchenexhaust.info (SPAM sites) – When the sites linking to the URL are only SPAM sites then it is obvious the site provides no value and should be avoided.
- theweddingdiamonds.info (non-relevant directories) – Again relevant directories and link pages can be natural however, low value directories as shown by these links are bad.
- whoswhere.ca (Blog Network) – There is the famous quote from Judge Potter Stewart stating in regards to Porn vs art “I know it when I see it” and this applies to most of us who look at websites and can quickly determine if the site is built only for links or not. When the majority of the links pointing to a domain was clearly built for the purposes of providing a link, like in this example, we should avoid it.
- Blog Comment or Forum SPAM
- allhandbags.info (Forum) – Blog comments and forum SPAM are old low value black-hat tactics that still many domains have links from. In these cases it is important to look at the comment and forum post and just think if it is reasonable. Blog comments and forum links that are real are fine, blog comments and forum links that are only left for the purpose of the link are bad! Another fast way to tell is to see if there are A LOT of useless comments on the post…if that is the case then the site likely has auto-approve comments on and has been hammered by low-value black hat SEOs.
- Foreign Language Links
- fantastic-bags.com – Here is an example of english links on foreign language websites. This is almost always a sign of link manipulation and if spotted should be avoided.
Most of the instructions above are pretty obvious. The intent of this post with the videos was to hopefully show a nice effective way to quickly determine the quality of the backlinks pointing to a site. Using MajesticSEO daily is a huge time saver for me and I wanted to share some of the tricks I have learned analyzing thousands of domains and dozens of sites over the last few months.
What other tools do you use to analyze a sites backlink quality? Ahrefs? OpenSiteExplorer? other?
Over the last 8 years my team has been finding domains, buying domains and building PBN sites for both my own portfolio as well as clients. One of the most important parts in the whole process is finding quality domains that can give your PBN some power, and in turn give your money site some power.
Most people believe that just going based on metrics such as Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) are really the only things that matter when deming whether or not the domain is good. However most people forget that these expired domains were once used for something else and so checking the backlinks of the domain to ensure there isn’t anything spammy going on is very important and is often overlooked. You don’t want to put your money site at risk by getting links from a domain that has spammy links pointing to it because Google could penalize you for that.
Below, is a step by step guide on how you spot check the backlinks of the domains to ensure they were not once abused. For looking at the backlink profile, we always like to use Majestic as it is one of the more reliable tools that we have used.
Example of a Bad Domain
For this example, we are going to use the domain ablasor.com
As we can see in Majestic, it has a bit of TF and CF (although you want to try and get to as much of a 1:2 ratio as possible. If you can get a 1:1 that’s even better.
But there are two other places that need to be checked. The anchor text profile and the backlinks.
For the anchor text profile, you can see that their are not only spammy words being used but also foreign anchor text. This is a clear sign that this domain has been abused.
However, sometimes the Anchor Text appears to be normal and we would have to also check the backlinks to ensure there isn’t any foreign or spammy links.
As you scroll through the list of backlinks, first check to see if there are any unusual or foreign texts.
If there isn’t anything that stands out, click on a few links and open them up to see if there is anything suspicious that pops up. When we open up a few we get some pages that look like the below. This is a clear sign of spam.
Example of a Good Domain
In this example we are going to look at the domain platinumassetdiscovery.com
That domain has good TF and CF and has a pretty close ration of 1:1 which is a good start.
When looking at the anchor text profile of the domain, we can see that the anchor text words are relevant to what the domains topical trust flow is which is Society/law. There is also no spammy or foreign words.
When we go and look at the backlink profile we can see that they all look good and no foregin words are present.
When we open them up they go to sites that are relevant and not foreign content.
After you have looked at the domain in Majestic.com, you then want to check it in archive.org and check a few different dates to see what the domain once was. Ensure that the domain wasn’t used in an inappropriate way or that it had foreign content on it.
I used MajesticSEO here and personally use ahrefs and SEMRush as well. However there are an amazing number of tools to help with backlink checking. Here is a complete guide reviewing the best backlink checkers.
I find that a lot of people miss a few of these steps which can be vital when looking at potential domains to link to your site. If you have any questions at all or need some further clarification on how to follow these steps please let me know!
Are you trying to find ways to increase your organic traffic and Google Rankings? Have you ever tried to do this with Infographics? If not- you should definitely give it a try! We use this strategy a lot on our own websites and it works!
What are Infographics and Why do We Use them?
Infographics are a really great way to build solid links for any of your websites. Infographics take a slightly different approach to SEO and are solely focused on amazing content and really nice graphics and design. We like to try and make infographics as useful as possible so that other websites will want to link to your site in return.
Steps You Need to Take: Research
Like most projects, the initial planning and research phase for infographics creation is going to be the most important part of the process. The first thing you’re going to want to do is get to know your website and the niche it’s in. Figure out exactly what TOPICS are related to your niche, and what kind of information is going to be VALUABLE to your audience.
Make a LIST- This is is going to include a focus topics but also topics that are loosely associated with your niche. This is going to ensure that you can come up with different infographic ideas that might draw from different/closely related audiences.
Go through your list and do some internet research to figure out what people like, link to, and share. The best methods to do this are the following:
1- Check out Pinterest:
Pinterest is going to be an amazing resource since they are so visually inclined. Search your Topic+ infographic and see what comes up. Then check how many shares it gets and look at who is sharing and linking to them
2- Google Images search is always a good option and you’ll be able to figure out pretty easily who is linking and sharing these as well
3- Another great resource is Buzzsumo– which is an amazing online tool that will help you figure out what content is getting a lot of traction by topic or website. You can sort by all sorts of metrics including social shares which is of huge value
Create your Titles:
Get creative! Your titles are the biggest piece of marketing that you’re going to do so this is going to need to be eye-catching to the reader. Some examples
- 15 Fun Facts about Canada
- Keto diets: What Foods to Eat and what Foods to Avoid?
- 7 Essential Oils to Help Depression
- The world’s weirdest music festivals
- Meditation in 12 steps
- Wedding Budget 101
The general rule of thumb for article titles are that they shouldn’t be longer than 150 words. They should be attention grabbers and pose some sort of question o r fun fact or statement.
Create Your Content
If you don’t have a writer already, use this SOP that we use internally to hire a writer
Please see the Step by Step guide on how to hire and assess writers via Upwork
Part A: Posting your job post
Step 1. Log in to your upwork account
Step 2. Go to the Jobs tab and click on “post a job”
Step 3: Select “part time”
Step 4: Then- describe the job with the requirements for how to write your infographic – The infographic title should suffice.
Step 5: Select “ Pay a fixed price” and make your budget $10. You should be able to get a really good quality infographic for $10.
Step 6: Generally with our screening questions, we ask them to fix a sentence that is grammatically incorrect so that you can just skip over their profile and application if they answer badly.
Step 7: Click “ post job”. Don’t worry about cover letter
Yay! You’ve posted your job!
Part B: Hiring your writer
Step 1: Wait 12 hours and check your job posting, you should have a few freelancers on the list at this point when you check your job posting
Step 2: Click “Review proposals” and you will get to a list of those who have applied
Step 3: Things we look for
- Budget: Does the bid fall within the budget?
- What have other clients said about this freelancer? We look for 80% job success minimum
- How much they’ve made on upwork so far? Usually those who have made more than $1000 are legitimate freelancers and will be more committed to your project.
Step 4: If you find one you like and meets the metrics, click “ hire freelancer”
Hire Your Designer
Once you get the Copy created for your infographic, you’re going to want to think about the DESIGN work for it. Now this is probably the part that is the most fun because you get to work with some pretty creative people. This is the Job posting we put on upwork for this.
We’re looking for an infographic designer to make great looking charts, graphs, and other infographics to go along with informative blog articles.
Ideal applicant must be:
– experienced and skilled in graphic design (please provide examples)
– experienced with Canva or another infographic creation program
– experienced with Photoshop
– available to work 15-20 hours per week
$10-$15 per infographic.
Applicant must be willing to perform a test assignment.
Now all you have to do is provide them with the COPY and let their creative side take over. I’ve always been happy with the different iterations I’ve received and designers are usually really great and taking your feedback.
Publishing your Infographic
What I usually like to do it make sure that I have a blog post or article that can support my infographic. Here is a list of tips about publishing:
1- Posting an infographic should happen at the beginning of the week ( on a Monday or Tuesday) A typical infographic life cycle is about 1 business week
2- If you’re doing an outreach effort with a vendor, make sure that you coordinate with them properly
3- To get more traction to your infographic, it can be worth buying paid traffic from sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon etc.. to get more social shares and links
4- Make sure that each infographic has Social Share Icons to make it easy for people to share. It will also help you measure what platforms are working best for you. For WordPress- use ShareBar which is a plugin that will give you advanced sharing options.
If you have any other tips with regards to the use of Infographics- feel free to share in the comments!