Every website owner needs to know about spam links and spam scores. Just like having a good SEO strategy in place, awareness of spam scores and their effect on Google rankings helps fine-tune that SEO strategy and ranking better on the search result page.
Link building is a part of everybody’s SEO strategy and is quite essential. Spammy links give rise to spam scores. Many tools measure spam scores. People who are new to the SEO industry might be wondering about spam scores and their effect on SEO. It is essential to check the spam score of a particular site that you wish to cite as a reference.
What is a Spam score?
Earning links should be the backbone of any SEO strategy. Simply having many spam links is not the way to achieve your ranking on a search results page, as this will merely result in attracting many penalties by Google and getting de-indexed altogether.
Being a reputable website analytics platform, Moz came up with a spam score metric system. This tool indicates how spammy a subdomain may look to Google. It is just a guide and is not the way Google or its algorithms perceive a spammy website. The score helps in making better-informed SEO decisions.
The spam score contains an aggregate of 27 spam flags or signaling factors. The more flags a particular site has, the higher the spam score and the more likely it is to get penalized by Google, as indicated by Moz. Many blog posts that I have written also contain a few spam flags bit I have learned to look at them with context.
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Let’s Understand The Impact of Spam Scores on SEO
The spam score is important because it gives an idea of two pieces of information
- How spammy the subdomains of your websites look to Google or any other search engine for that matter.
- How spammy the subdomains of backlinks directing to your website look to search engines.
The spam scores provide a helpful guide in figuring out the quality and spamminess of a single webpage. It is a good indicator for understanding whether Google will penalize you based on the spam links on the webpage.
Spam score operates on the subdomain level instead of the root domains, so if you have a high spam score, that doesn’t necessarily mean your entire website is spammy. So, each subdomain of your website has a spam score, and the number is increased for every spam flag found. All individual spam flags combined lead to an ultimate spam score, and the standard rule is lower the spam score, the better.
Spam score and its quirks
Since the score only considers subdomains, you shouldn’t panic if you have a few spam flags on your website. The spam score is cumulative, which means every new spam flag increases the number. So, if a subdomain has many spam flags, it will be perceived as spammy.
The image above should give you an idea as to what a subdomain is. It means that if a page with a high-risk subdomain has a high spam score, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is entirely spam. In the same way, a page with a low-risk subdomain can have many spam links.
For example, if a subdomain has a spam score of 10, it doesn’t mean that the entire site is spam, and at the same time, a score of 3 doesn’t mean that there are no spam backlinks either. I can say that the Moz spam score can be used as a reference and should not be relied on too much.
The spam score signals
Though the spam score gives you an idea of how spammy your webpage looks to a search engine, you shouldn’t take it at face value and rely on it too much as it doesn’t provide the complete picture. There are certain factors worth considering, like the number of external links in that particular web page, the top-level domain of the website backlinks to yours, and other scores like the Moz trust, Moz rank, etc.
Google’s John Mueller has confirmed that Google doesn’t use the metrics of Moz or any other tool to calculate the spam factor of websites. Google has its scores, signals, and ranking factors that come into play when ranking a website on a search result page.
So, after getting a spam score from a tool by Moz, you immediately need to consider other factors. If your website has a lot of pages, but very few quality links throughout, then it implies that the content on your site has no real value. It tells Google and other search engines that these pages are not worth linking to and are considered spam.
Low link diversity is also another factor you must look into. If you have 500 inbound links, but they are coming from only 5 domains, then there is a low link diversity, then there are chances of increased spam score.
The ratio of do-follow links with no-follow links matters very much. If the number of do-follow links varies greatly with no-follow links, it might imply that you haven’t earned your backlinks naturally.
The structure of the site also matters when deciding if it is spam or not. If a website has basic HTML, poor layout and design, minor formatting, and low-quality graphics, then such a site is a clear indication of a spam site.
Reputable sites always have a ‘contacts’ page regardless of which niche it is operating. Spam sites don’t have this. It is one stark difference that sets apart a legitimate site from a spam one.
Sites with a significantly less number of pages are also considered spam. That doesn’t mean you need to create hundreds of pages for your website. You need to make the optimum number of pages and fill it with valuable content relevant to the niche you are working in. As I create many blog posts, I also create the optimum number of pages depending on the niche I am writing about.
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What does getting a high spam score mean?
If you get a high spam score, it doesn’t mean anything as Moz places importance on the subdomain level, and your website is certainly not spammy. It also doesn’t have a bearing on Google rankings as Google has its algorithms to calculate your order on the search result page.
Also, your Moz spam score is constantly updating itself, and its stats change often. You can take Moz spam score seriously if your score is somewhere above 50-60%.
Moz introduced the spam score in 2015 to help website owners understand how spammy their websites look to search engines like Google. Moz has its proprietary calculations and models that it takes into account while assigning the spam flags to websites.
It is certainly not representative of how Google will view your website. It should not be used as a stand-alone metric while checking your site for spam. Its purpose is only to give how Google and other search engines will perceive your site.
A high spam score doesn’t impact Google’s rankings, and it all depends on what niche you are operating and at what stage your website is in.
If your site is less than a year old, has few links, and not much content, then there is very little data for the spam score to work appropriately and give you a score.
I have seen so many people losing their sleep over a high spam score when their website is not even a year old and hasn’t taken off. It would be prudent for you to investigate the reasons behind a high spam score. If your spam scores are very high, more than 50%, you need to research the causes behind these high scores.
You can check Google search console reports to know if any manual penalties have been levied on you. You can also audit the link profile of your website and weed out any toxic links. You could also check for broken pages or indexing issues, as they will undoubtedly affect your rankings. In my opinion, spam scores should be viewed in context and not as the sole deciding factor for your website.