Digital marketing can be a bit overwhelming to keep up with for your dental practice. These strategies often change and it can be daunting to figure out which ones are truly valuable for your practice. This is often a challenge most dental brands face along with knowing how to even implement the latest strategies. Wonderful Dental stays in the know and implements best practices in their own digital marketing strategy. A best practice you can apply today is aligning your link building efforts with your dental SEO strategies to improve your online presence.
What are Spammy Links?
Spammy links happen when a low-quality website links to yours. The rough guide/criteria for determining if a link could be of low quality include the following metrics and qualifications:
- Low Domain Authority or Page Authority (this is usually case-by-case and should not be the only determining factor for spammy links)
- Site-wide links (exception being partner or affiliate sources)
- Foreign sites (unless you operate as a global business with international partner sites!)
- Non-relevant directories
- Obvious spam sites (sites that scrape and duplicate content, etc.)
- Adult / NSFW content
- Severely non-topical sources
- Extremely weak content
- Links that yield 404 errors
- Paid links (most just need to be no-followed)
- Excessive link exchanges
- Advertorials (again some can be no-followed)
- Overly optimized anchor text (keyword spammed or stuffed)
- Bookmark sites
- Forums & forum comments (if it's spam = bad. but if industry-specific forums = good)
Why Should You Care About Spammy Links?
If your website has a buildup of spammy links, it signals to Google that your website may be using SEO techniques that violate their guidelines, or that the website is somehow not an ideal website for users. Google calls such links “unnatural.” Google’s algorithm is designed to lower the ranking of websites that contain such links. In some cases, Google takes manual action on a website, removing it from the index or downgrading its ranking.
Why Do You Have Spammy Links?
Nearly every website more than a few years old has some spammy links. It’s only necessary to be concerned if your website has a large number of such links.
Here are some common reasons why you may have spammy links:
- You used the services of an SEO company that may have used black/grey hat link building techniques that you were not aware of.
- You engaged in “link building.” Such efforts may have included a large number of article directory submissions, link wheels, tiered linking, indiscriminate guest posting, or other techniques now considered “spammy” and black hat.
- Your site operates in a competitive niche that has been characterized by spammy techniques (e.g., pharmaceutical products, weight loss, online casinos, adult websites, etc.)
- Your site is the victim of negative SEO. (This is rare.)
How to Find Spammy Links
- Google Search Console - You can analyze your link profile by logging into the Search Console and downloading the list of links to your website.
- Majestic – The Majestic SEO tools suite provides backlink data based on a determinant index of sites.
- Ahrefs – Ahrefs uses another (slightly different)
- Moz – MozPro account owners have access to a tool called “Spam Analysis” as part of their Open Site Explorer that identifies potential low-quality websites linking to your website.
- Link Research Tools - This product is designed to score and assist in the removal of harmful links.
How to Fix Spammy Links
- Link Disavows
- Link Remediation
- Manual Link Outreach
(If your website has experienced a manual penalty (unnatural link penalty), then you must immediately engage in a variety of the three above!)
What is Link Remediation and How does it Work?
Link Remediation is the process of removing harmful links from your site’s link profile. This involves analyzing your link profile, sending link removal requests to the webmasters of linking sites, creating and uploading a disavow.txt file of sites whose links persists, recording the efforts, and sending a reconsideration request to Google, asking for the penalty to be lifted.
We recommend routine analysis and disavowal of your link profile. Every six months to one year (depending on site traffic), download your list of links and identify any that could be considered spammy or unnatural. Add these to a disavow.txt and upload through the Google Search Console. Google will remove these sites from the algorithmic assessment of your link profile, thereby minimizing your risk of an algorithmic or manual link penalty.
Recommended Next Steps
If you’ve never taken consideration of your link profile, we recommend that you download the list of links from the Google Search Console and find out what sites are linking to yours. If you do identify any spammy links, consider updating your disavow.txt or reaching out to the webmasters directly to ask that the link(s) be removed.
Link Acquisition & Link Outreach
Link Outreach is the tactic of reaching out directly to site-owners, generally via email, and asking for brand mentions, hosted product giveaways and contests, guest posting opportunities, and potentially, links.
This is a marketing tactic that has been used for many years with differing results. It is the confluence of SEO, PR, and brand marketing. With all of these marketing disciplines mixing together, the water can become murky and mistakes that can harm a website’s SEO are easily made.
Content Marketing related Outreach can be a fantastic marketing technique that introduces your brand to new and targeted customers. Building engagement and trust with these audiences is possible through building great relationships with bloggers, publishers, and online influencers. There are many great site-owners, publishers, and bloggers out there creating wonderful content and inspiring their readers on a daily basis. But, it is very important to be cautious and understand the risks involved in working with sites, especially with the specific goal of increasing links.
Why Is It Important To Be Cautious With Link Outreach?
As Google continually updates their algorithms, specifically the Penguin algorithm, to focus on new and different forms of “link spam,” it is important that Outreach tactics are scrutinized closely so that they do not cause a penalty. Link penalties are difficult to remove and can cause a costly drop in organic traffic. Once a site has been penalized by Google for link spam, there can be months and even years of suffering traffic to contend with.
We’ll discuss two ways to be cautious and help to keep your brand safe while maximizing marketing/outreach efforts:
- Targeting only high quality and trusted influencers
- Adding the nofollow tag to links
How to Spot Link/Publisher Placements That Can Harm Your Link Profile
In the early stages of a Link Outreach campaign, it is important to build a list of high quality sites and publishers to target. Building this list can be difficult, but there are several signs that a site should not be included on the list. Look for these signs to determine whether a site is of low quality and should never be considered as a target for outreach efforts:
- Does the site/blog solely run contests, giveaways, coupons and/or deals? - This is likely to be a webmaster that purely accepts sponsored posts and has no unique or valuable content. If the site has “giveaways” in the URL or title, it is a good idea to mark them off your list.
- Is the site unattractive, busy, and filled with ads above the fold? - Sites that are crowded with ads should not be considered for outreach. This does not mean that sites can’t have ads, but they should not dominate the content.
- Does the site/publisher lack any discernable theme? - If the target posts on every topic under the sun, without a focus on a specific target audience, do not put them on an outreach list. Here is one example of a blog that meets this criteria: http://freestuffblog.com/
- Does the site lack any user engagement? - If a site or blog does not contain any comments, social shares, or engagement, it is probably a poor target for outreach. The site may have few engagements on the site, but lots of engagement on social media. Make sure to check engagement on all channels, before ruling out the opportunity.
How to Avoid Unsafe Link Practices
As previously mentioned, Blogger or Content Marketing or PR Outreach can be great marketing techniques that will put your brand in front of new and targeted audiences.
That said, there are steps that can be taken to protect the hard-earned SEO foundation your site has built.
- Whenever you are soliciting a brand mention, including sponsoring a contest or giveaway, or paying an influencer to create content, make sure they add a no-follow tag to any links pointing to your website. This is the most important step to ensuring you do not receive a link penalty.
- Don’t purchase links through vendors or link brokers. Companies or individuals who sell links at prices based on a site’s Domain Authority are best to be avoided.
- Build actual relationships with publishers, bloggers, and industry influencers. When you have a direct relationship with the content publisher, you will get true value from the partnership. Working with webmasters should be mutually beneficial. This can take a variety of forms, from compensating them for their work and time creating content, to supporting their site through sharing to your brand’s social channels.
- When in doubt about a site, err on the side of caution. If a site-owner constantly mentions the cost of “links” rather than the content of a post, it is likely that they are in the business of selling links. Even with a no-follow tag, sites that display a pattern of selling links can be flagged as spam by Google.
In today’s digital world, it is important to ensure you adapt to keep your business relevant. With the internet at your service, you have all the dental marketing resources you need to market and grow your practice. When you partner with leaders in the industry like Wonderful Dental, you will stay ahead of the competition.