Website owners and SEO professionals go to great lengths to get their sites ranked on the first page of Google and other search engines.
But unfortunately, unscrupulous competitors are not above launching negative SEO attacks against top-ranking websites. These attacks are not as dangerous as they used to be, but done properly, they can still have negative – and lasting – consequences to a site’s organic rank.
Negative SEO can take many forms but it’s usually a combination of the following tactics:
Building spammy backlinks to your domain
Removing your quality backlinks
Building spammy backlinks (also called ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’ links) to a website is the most common method used to try to de-throne top performers.
As we can see from this 2018 Search Engine Roundtable poll, a significant number of SEO professionals (for the lack of a better term) have resorted to these tactics at one time or another.
In the last couple of years, Google has got a lot smarter, and it’s now completely ignoring a lot of these spammy backlinks.
Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s webspam team, went on record with that in the video below:
Still, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally clean your link profile and remove the offending links – because some of them might be slipping through Google’s webspam net.
The process of removing bad backlinks is relatively simple, if time-consuming:
Understand what makes a backlink ‘toxic’
Use a tool to identify all bad links pointing to your website
Contact the webmaster and request removal
Create and submit a ‘disavow’ file to Google to ignore those links
1. Types of Link Spam You Want to Avoid
Pretty much every link which is irrelevant to your website falls in the category of bad backlinks – with the exception of editorial links from large publications.
That said, there are some backlink types that you absolutely never want to connect with your website:
Links from penalized domains
Links from link directories and link farms
Links from ‘bad neighborhoods’ (porn, pharma, online gambling)
Links from foreign language sites
A large number of links from unrelated websites
A large number of exact-match anchor text links.
The danger in links from penalized domains and websites pushing knock-off Viagra is obvious – they are poison, and equivalent to building a house right next to a junkyard. Thankfully, Google knows that no one who’s trying to rank high would build these links on purpose, so they generally ignore them completely.
Exact-match anchor text links and links from foreign sites are a different story – from Google’s perspective, you could easily be building these yourself to manipulate rankings. That could trigger an algorithmic penalty, or a manual action, which is why it’s always a good idea to try to get rid of them as soon as they show up.
Each of these apps uses different metrics, but if you’re using Monitor Backlinks, it’ll show you everything from Moz’s spam score to Ahrefs’ Domain Authority, which is helpful when a link is teetering between “spammy” and “likely harmless”.
Whichever tool you’re using to identify your bad links, try to find an export option.
A downloadable CSV file will enable you to sort and order the data, which will come in handy when determining which websites to contact first to ask them to remove the links pointing to your site.
3. Request Removal from Website
That said, the chances of getting a low-quality backlink removed by asking the offending webmaster nicely are close to zero. It’s a step Google requires you to take before asking them to ignore the link, however, so you should at least attempt it.
In almost 90% of the cases, you won’t be able to find the contact information of the person who has access to that website. Most won’t even have a generic contact page for you send an email through – if that’s the case, use WHOIS Domain Lookup to try to track down the owner.
You’ll get something thing like this, but most of the time, the listed name won’t ring a bell (as in this case), and the listing will be similarly devoid of an email address.
If you happen to find an email that you can use, but you don’t hear anything back, it’s a good idea to contact the hosting company and ask them to remove the toxic backlinks you’ve identified. They’ll be able to assist you in most cases.
At the end of the day, it’s highly likely that you’ll have to turn to Google’s ‘Disavow Links’ tool to sort out your link spam problem – you can listen to Matt Cutts explain what it is and how it works here.
It’s a simple enough tool which enables you to import a text file (using Google Search Console) containing all the links you want Google to ignore. You can record specific URLs in it, or you can go broad and ask Google to ignore all the links from a specific domain.
Use the Disavow Links tool carefully, and only after a thorough analysis of your backlinks profile – the last thing you want to do is disavow high-quality backlinks and negatively impact your organic rankings.
After submitting, be patient – it takes time for the file to get processed, and at this point, all you can do is wait for your rankings to start slowly recovering.
While I do believe that Google is doing everything within its power to limit how negative SEO impacts websites, I still think it’s prudent and necessary to occasionally do a backlink audit, and clean out the spammy links.
It’s a small enough job when done regularly, and it could save you from major future headaches.
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10 GOOD REASONS TO BECOME A MEMBER WITH WEALTHY AFFILIATE
FIRST, WHAT IS WEALTHY AFFILIATE?
Before you can read the 10 reasons for joining Wealthy Affiliate, I will first explain what Wealthy Affiliate is. Wealthy Affiliate is an online training platform to learn how to make money online, mostly through affiliate marketing.
You will learn how to create a profitable online business, starting from scratch to build a solid foundation. That makes the program suitable for people who have little or no experience at all with online marketing.
Here are the 10 reasons for joining Wealthy Affiliate. At the end I will give you an extra 10 good reasons why you should become a member with Wealthy Affiliate.
1. IT’S FREE TO GET STARTED
There is no payment involved to get started with Wealthy Affiliate. You don’t even have to give credit card information or any other payment information. Just set up an account and you’re good to go.
You can start immediately with the first lessons to create your online business. It is not a trial period, you can stay a free member for as long as you wish. As a free member, you will even get access to create two free websites.
There is zero risks to get started. You are not risking any money, the only thing it will cost you is some of your time. If you decide this is not what you were looking for, you can simply cancel your membership. The only thing you lost is time, but definitely no money.
2. LEGITIMATE STEP-BY-STEP TRAINING
The lessons you’ll get are all white hat techniques, no black hat techniques that could get you into trouble. These lessons are given as step-by-step task based lessons in bite-sized pieces.
There are many training modules you can follow, it is more than only affiliate marketing. In fact, there are already over 1500 training lessons for you to choose from, in any marketing topic you can think of.
3. AWESOME 24/7/365 SUPPORT
If you ever get stuck in the training, or have any question whatsoever, you can expect to get support 24/7. Not only is there an active community with over 1.500.000 members, you can expect to get an answer to your question soon, sometimes within 5 minutes.
You can also expect to get help from the owners who are often online to help people. You won’t find many places where the owners are actively involved to help their students.
To make it even better, when you encounter a technical problem, for instance with your website, you can contact support and will get help within 10 minutes, but often times even faster.
You will have just enough time to get yourself a cup of coffee. By the time you finished your coffee, your problems should be solved. The people behind the technical support know a whole lot, but sometimes they need to find out what is going on. Anyway, your problems will be solved as fast as possible.
4. AFFORDABLE TRAINING
The monthly payment is $49 each month or $359 per year, while your first month will only cost you $19. If you pay for a whole year at once, it will be just under $30, not even $1 per day.
The price for premium members is al inclusive, meaning you will have access to all the training materials. You won’t be limited to the number of training lessons you have access to. Where can you find so much training for such an affordable price?
5. NO UPSELLS OR OTHER UNEXPECTED EXPENSES
When you become a premium member, there won’t be any upsells. The prices you see above is what you have to pay, nothing more! It’s not like all the guru “scammers” who try to get as much money out of your wallet as possible.
6. UP-TO-DATE TRAINING MATERIALS
The internet is always changing and the owners do everything to keep the training materials up-to-date. Several times a year there will be an update and the platform will also be improved. The owners listen to tips and suggestions from their members to make the platform better.
The last few years there have been many improvements making the use of the platform easier for the members. Wealthy Affiliate keeps improving because the owners want people to succeed.
7. FREE KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOL
Paid members have free access to Jaaxy, an excellent keyword research tool. Jaaxy will help you to find profitable keywords, as you can see immediately how tough the competition will be.
This is a must have program to make your campaigns profitable. Without Jaaxy it will be very difficult to target the right buyer keywords. To get more out of Jaaxy, you can upgrade to Pro or Enterprise, what will give you faster results.
8. LIVE VIDEO TRAINING CLASSES
Every week there is a one-hour live video training for premium members. In this video training, you’ll get additional info on creating a profitable website. These lessons are very good to see what you can do to make your website better.
Sometimes people can have their website checked to see how it can be improved. This is a very good lesson because you can find out how to improve your own website. The replay is normally online within 24 hours, thus if you can’t make the live video training, you can watch it later.
These video training lessons go back all te way to November 4, 2010, the day Wealthy Affiliate introduced video training on their platform. As a premium member you can watch all the replays.
9. STATE-OF-THE-ART HOSTING WITH FREE SSL
Websites are hosted on state-of-the-art hosting servers, not shared with thousands of other websites. That will make your website load faster, an important ranking factor. You’ll also get free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), a secure 256-bit connection, making it possible to accept secure payments online.
This free website encryption is available for premium members and all their websites. SSL is another ranking factor as Google gives higher priorities to secure sites. Since 2016 you can buy and register your domain name directly from Wealthy Affiliate. With the instant setup your website will be available immediately.
You will get a lot of free extra features with your domain name that would normally cost you a lot more. With WA it’s all included, you don’t have to pay anything extra for it. There is a whole lot more that comes with the free web hosting, you can read it all on the page WA web hosting review.
10. SITE CONTENT: THE WRITING PLATFORM
Content is King. On the SiteContent writing platform, you can write an article until it’s ready to be published. The program will check spelling and grammar, the number of words you have written, check if the content is unique, and even how well you’re doing compared with other members.
You can put images in your content with a choice of over 1 million royalty free images. Or you can easily upload your own images. When your content is ready, you can simply publish it with one click and have it online on your website. With Site Content you can also check if your article is indexed by Google.
11. Wealthy Affiliate got a ranking system in place. The more you participate in sharing knowledge, answering questions, in other words helping people, the higher your rankings will be. It’s all about helping and getting help; a win-win situation.
12. You can request feedback on your website. Other members will have a look at your website and will tell you what they think and how you can improve your website. It’s always a good idea to have other people looking at your website and get their honest opinion.
By leaving feedback on other websites, you will earn credits that you can use to ask for feedback for your own website. These credits are also used to get comments on your website. More about site comments by point 13.
13. With the site comments feature, you can ask other members to leave a comment on your website. Google will see this as people interacting with your website, and this will result in higher rankings. Comments are also good for the user experience and for building trust.
You need credits to ask for comments, that you earn by leaving comments or feedback on websites from fellow members. It is also possible to buy credits or exchange credits for cash, as they have a value of $0.50 each.
14. It is possible to earn money with your own training. If you have a lot of knowledge about a certain subject, you can write a course around it and earn credits with it. These credits can also be exchanged for cash.
The amount of credits depends on how many people will like your training and the number of people that engage in the training. These credits are the same as being used for side comments and feedback.
15. You can write blog posts, for instance about your accomplishments. These blog posts will also show up on Google. If you write a good blog, you could rank on the first page of Google. You can monetize this to get more traffic to your website.
16. When you buy your domain name through Wealthy Affiliate, you will also get free privacy protection. This will prevent spammers from getting your email address and filling up your mailbox with spam. Other companies will charge money for it, but Wealthy Affiliate offer it for free.
17. When you buy a domain name, you will have a choice of over 3.000 mobile friendly templates to use for your website. Free members can choose from 24 templates, and these can easily be changed later. Installing a new template is a piece of cake, even a little kid can do it.
18. The website builder is user-friendly, using WordPress as the Content Management System (CMS). You don’t need any technical skills to create your website. And you have a choice of over 50.000 plugins to make it all easier.
19. There is nothing to worry about your website. There are daily backups, comment spam control to stop spam, unlimited email accounts, instant setup, auto login, site protection against hackers and other attacks, and lots more. All websites are monitored 24 hours a day.
20. Wealthy Affiliate doesn’t allow promoting products or any other form of advertising. If you spam, you will first get a warning. By the second time you will be limited in what you can do, for instance no more access to the community.
And you can imagine what will happen if you do it again: your account will be limited in such a way that you cannot contact other members anymore. You are even at risk of having your account closed!
WEALTHY AFFILIATE IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY!
Wealthy Affiliate is not for people who are looking for a get-rich-quick system. You will learn to create a legitimate business with long-term results. Creating an online business will take time because you have to write a lot of content.
New websites also have to gain trust from the search engine to get good rankings. If your website isn’t ranking high, you won’t get a lot of traffic and so you won’t make much money, if you make any money at all. It’s all about having patience and being persistent to become successful online.
Wealthy Affiliate is also not for people who want to take things the easy way and make a lot of money. Although it is possible to earn money picking the right niche, there is work involved. If you are willing to do that, you can and will secure your financial future.
Wealthy Affiliate is also not for people who think they will not make money online. If you follow the lessons and apply what you learn, you will make money. A wrong mindset can stop you from reaching financial success online.
SCAMMERS ARE NOT WELCOME
If you want to scam people, then you are in the wrong place. Scammers are not welcome by Wealthy Affiliate. Some countries, for instance, Nigeria, are not allowed to take the free trial, because of too many online scams coming from these countries. However, they are allowed to become a premium – paid – member.
You already had 10 reasons for joining Wealthy Affiliate and 10 more reasons on top of that. I forget one important reason: you can do the work from the comfort of your home! If you are not a quitter and willing to work for it, you should click the link below and get started as a free member. Wealthy Affiliate is the place to be, it’s never too late to get started!