Last Updated on October 6, 2020
There are a lot of organic measures to detect the email spammers. Even the government crackdown to curb email spammers through rules such as GDPR is essential. Many of the largest tech companies worldwide are now playing a significant role in detecting and dealing with bad link building tactics that harm the reputation of websites and their search engine ranking. Many companies are also using intelligent bots that are increasingly getting closer to human reasoning regarding spam link detection and removal.
Most experts agree that with the bots getting smarter and agile, any manually done backlink strategy can easily be tracked by more intelligent crawlers that are continuously learning from the web behavior and user actions. This is why having a backlink strategy should be dealt with extreme care and precautions, and this is where the role of artificial intelligence (AI) appears vital. Can AI remove slam backlinks effectively? Yes, that is the next level promise for a backlinking strategy that SEO experts can embrace.
But before we explain the effectiveness of artificial intelligence for removing spam backlinks and improving backlinking strategy, we need to look at the loopholes and shortcomings of traditional link building strategies.
Traditional Link Building and Its Loopholes
When the internet was taking shape, link building was synonymous with virtual land grabbing in those early years. A website could buy a few exact match domains (EMDs), and after that, they could provide some low-quality links, and soon these domains could grab search engine ranks. But those early days of link building and SEO have long gone, and webmasters no longer remain to be like Wild West land grabbers.
There were no checks by algorithms for Google Sandboxing in those days, the practice that can mute rankings of some websites for months or even years as a punishment for their shady business model or dubious SEO strategy. While in those years, with just a basic knowledge of SEO, you could quickly grab higher search ranks, now it seems quite impossible.
Now we have a more mature internet which results in billions of indexed web pages. Roughly, 4.4 million blog articles are regularly posted worldwide, and naturally, there is tough competition for visibility and search ranks that Google needs to put up with. This matured internet also means that many websites have decades of old backlink profiles that consist of millions of relevant inbound links. They send strong signals to search engine spiders allowing them better search engine visibility while smaller ones struggle to gain a bit of this search engine visibility.
This is the principal reason why, in the space of online marketing, startups always struggle to catch-up with larger and more seasoned rivals. This is why instead of changing everything, startups to generate success should focus on differentiating themselves.
Compared to the earlier time when startups could have the chance of staying competitive by creating low-quality content from link farms or link wheels, blog networks, web directories, sitewide links, and such tools, now they don’t enjoy such liberty thanks to stricter and more robust algorithms that can quickly detect low quality and spam links.
How Search Engines Track Spam Links?
It is just a year or so passed since we experienced algorithmic blocks for emails incorrectly interpreted as spam. The finding opened our eyes to how even legitimate websites can be affected by algorithmic checks’ wrong interpretation. This also shows us algorithms play a significant role in carrying out checks and balances to remove and block spam links.
For example, if we create new emails under a brand-new website domain, but these emails remain attached to well-recognized business brands, the practice can send hundreds of emails from all the accounts tied to existing email sequences. Now just because these accounts are new, more than 50 emails sent at a given time can create automated bottlenecks with the server response. This is quite likely to happen until the server could recognize the accounts as legitimate and seasoned. But this throttling down of emails can be experienced for a month or so before it is tracked and identified. This interpretation of the accounts by the machines as completely new is at the root of the problem.
Just like these automated email spam blocks, the interpretation of spam links by search engine algorithms work. The search engine algorithms try to detect some kinds of common patterns among those building links in a fashion that appear to be spammy.
Let’s understand some of the critical attributes that are considered by algorithms for spam detection.
At what speed and how fast the links are acquired? Does a massive number of similar links point to some particular pages just at a given time? Does the growth of inbound links look natural and gradual over a period of time?
Anchor Text & IP Variability
Is the website trying to use the same search specific term, again and again, to rank for a particular search rank criteria or keyword? Are all the links coming from the same IP address? Even when they are coming from different IP addresses, how varied those IPs are?
Can a lot of incoming site links to specific pages be found that are targeting highly-competitive keywords? As far as the outbound links are concerned, can we see a balanced mix of internal and external links on the website? Are the articles and blogs of the website having outbound links to other sites that use commercial terms? Or, are these outbound links natural and contextual to the topic? Do the links provide value to the simple user searches and queries in the subject? These aspects are essential for sitewide links as well.
Co-Citation & Applicability
You also need to check whether references in specific articles or blog posts are equally applicable to other links in the same posts? You also need to check whether websites for the health or travel niche are linking to manufacturing or finance websites? Remember, such non-contextual links are triggers for spams.
Domain history and IP history
Since its beginning, is the domain owned by the same individual or business entity? In case it changed hands, does the change is reflected in the theme, content, and industry niche? Does the change also reflect in the frequency of posts? Do these outbound links vary to a great extent?
Links funneled to another site is a big trigger for spam links. In case a company completely rebrands a website and takes the link profile of its previous location, it should be avoided. In case redirects are irreplaceable, let it occur sitewide in a more natural fashion.
Spam links repeatedly use some TLD extensions. It would help if you were beware of this. Some popular domain extensions such as .info, .biz, and even .co are vulnerable to this.
To establish legitimacy, you need to create an authentic feel by including real social accounts with their follower base. Links from real websites can always be tracked across social platforms.
With all of the aspects listed above, modern intelligent bit algorithms improve their abilities in differentiating the real from the fake. They also have a better capability in detecting patterns common to the spam backlinks. In all those instances where a large number of these violations occur, the algorithm bots may trigger a complete manual review resulting in demoralizing and wasting your entire time and effort for the website SEO and link building.
The Disastrous Impact of Negative SEO
Close to a decade ago, a link strategy called “Google Bowling” was effectively implemented by many businesses to boost higher ranking sites. As part of the strategy, companies used to hire contractors from websites like Fiverr for faster development of the link profile of specific web pages. They used to do this by using spam sites and manipulated links using phrases that were only used by spammers.
By embracing such techniques, many businesses could generate great link profiles for the website pages in a quick time. But this often exposed these websites to malicious attacks from fishy websites. Many legitimate businesses that adopted this strategy were lucky enough to avoid the disastrous outcome from the security point of view.
Though such malicious attacks are quite obvious and part and parcel of this link building strategy, knowing such attacks and the role of wrong links are intertwined. By only taking a closer look at the link profile largely sourced through illegitimate ways, anyone can understand where the risks lie.
We all know that backlinks are valuable for SEO and every one of us knows that by just getting a new backlink, we move forward a step or two towards a higher search position. The more the links we get, the better a search rank we can expect. Backlinks play a significant role, and we can’t do without them.
Well, this perception has changed completely. Some backlinks can instantly throw a shadow on the entire backlink profile that you have built bit by bit for so many years. This shadowy backlink profile ultimately can lead to a penalty from Google. So, while you can chuckle at seeing a new backlink, one of these backlinks can have disastrous consequences for your website. A backlink from an irrelevant website with no useful content repository can ultimately pull down your reputation and search ranking.
What are The Bad Backlinks?
Bad backlinks generally come from cheap spam comments, Fiverr gigs, or link networks that provide commercial interest links. Suddenly you can see many Chinese and Russian websites link to your website, and such links can be a significant indication of low-quality backlink profiles.
Besides quality, quantity is equally important for judging the link profile. A couple of spam backlinks for a website is quite normal. But when your website has too many of them, your intention to use spam links for your SEO tactics comes out. Such link schemes manipulating SEO ranking can prompt Google to take action against you. This is what made Google create the Google Penguin algorithm. Since Google is committed to disapproving and punishing bad links, and since it is welcome to make the web a more value-driven place, you need to do everything to reduce bad links.
If you are still wondering about the source of this buzz about excellent or bad backlinks, you need to have a clear idea about the role of backlinks for search engine ranks of websites in general. Backlinks for years have been a key ranking factor for websites across the spectrum, and it is going to remain so. But generating quality backlinks has become the need of the hour. Manipulating links for better search engine ranks is what Google is most concerned about, and that is where you need to take guard against all backlinks that can pull your reputation down.
Intelligent Bots and The Future of Spam Link Builders
The role of intelligent bots and AI-powered algorithms are increasingly playing a vital role in building the quality backlink profile of websites. The manual aspects of SEO are fast taking a backseat. Though the role of human effort in controlling the decision making bots and the role of bots in the creation and consumption of content have become too important, the modern algorithms on their own are increasingly becoming capable of distinguishing bad links from the organic and relevant ones.
As the search algorithms continue to get better, they continue to give less stress on hyperlink-based signals for search ranking in general. Search algorithms are increasingly emphasizing organic factors such as user dwell time, bounce rates, and feedback of direct users.
AI has already made its way into all algorithms, including search engine crawlers, to detect specific patterns and metrics crucial for encouraging good organic link profiles and putting down wrong links. In the months to come, AI algorithms will continue to play a more significant role in perfecting websites’ backlink profile.
About the author
Atman Rathod is the Co-founder at CMARIX TechnoLabs Pvt. Ltd., a professional search engine optimization services company with 16+ years of experience. He loves to write about technology, startups, entrepreneurship, and business. His creative abilities, academic track record, and leadership skills made him one of the key industry influencers as well.