Why Your Site Looks Like Spam

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We’re all familiar with link networks and spam sites. They’re sites which are specifically set up to make a bit of cash out of selling links. And as far as SEO for clients goes, they’re a BIG no-go. Anyone in the search industry has most likely done an initial link audit for a new client and near sobbed at their desk at the amount of spam site links in the backlink profile.

Google is constantly cracking down on this kind of play; but maybe your fully legitimate site looks spammy without actually intending to?

If you’re looking to make a site which is all about providing valuable information or offering a viable service to internet surfers, avoid these spam pitfalls.

Using stock imagery

seo site

We’ve all seen them – those stock photos of men and women looking so happy to be having a chat about insurance, or generic-looking business people taking a good hard look at their accounts or grinning while they hold up a calculator.

While Google can’t crawl images as such, if you have this sort of stock imagery on your site, any internet-savvy user is going to call shennaigans.

Paid-for advertising

It’s all very well monetsing your website, and according to Google guidelines there’s not that much wrong with it. However, pack your site with all manner of sidebar ads and banner ads and you’re just going to look spammier than a tin of corned beef.

Take a look at your site, and make sure that your content to ads ratio shows a much higher presidence to content.

Site authorship

You don’t have a contact page? A link to a Twitter profile or G+ page? How about a privacy policy or copyright notice? Well then, you’re making yourself look spammy.

These factors can all be rectified very easily in most CMS. If it’s just a blog which you own, don’t be shy – link to your real Twitter profile.

Keyword spamming

Stuffing keywords into site text became obselete years ago, and these days is liable to hand you a Google penalty. But nowadays, lots of webmaster try to rectify this by bolding as many keywords as they can within site content (note: bolded keywords DON’T affect your SEO. They just look spammy.)

There’s also still the habit of using exact match anchor text for internal linking. Annoyingly, the more longtail the targeted term, the more spammy it looks.

Here’s an example:

seo tips


Your site is full of 404s and broken links

Spammers and owners of link networks rarely have the time to maintain good site health, and as such you’ll find a great deal of broken sites, pages not found and a load of dead ends.

If you want your site to stay looking good, you’ll need to keep making all the neccesary updates and changes to it. With a commitment to keeping your site fresh, Google will love you that little bit more.

Auditing your link profile

One of my favourite tools for auditing links is Moz’s Open Site Explorer, which will show you the kind of links you have garnered.

Some may be unsolicited, but it pays to keep on top of things. As a general rule, you don’t want followed links from spammy directories or scraper sites.

Analytics is epic

As a good webmaster, one of the best things to do is keep a close eye on your Webmaster Tools and your Analytics account. If you’ve been getting a high bounce rate from certain pages, look nto it right away. If Google gives you an unnatural link warning, perform a link audit instantly.

Doing all these things will ensure you stay in Google’s good books and you’ll be able to properly maintain an insightful, informative site.


Written by Sarah Chalk

Sarah Chalk

Sarah is an SEO Account Manager at 360i and has a keen interest in all things SEO. She has also written for a number of sites, including Vue cinema’s film blog and a number of tech websites.

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