Welcome back Rankers! I’m taking the moral high ground again this week on the subject of backlinks. I received many questions at The Internet Conference and also from my last couple of videos about bad backlinks, how you can find out if someone has bad backlinks, or how do you know if someone was conducting negative SEO, which is an actual thing.
I wrote about Negative SEO four years ago when the disvow tool was released. Negative SEO is basically where someone would go and buy a whole batch of crummy backlinks and direct them at your site. Chances are you won’t know this has happened as your competitor may have hired a company to do it, or just hired a freelancer from Fiverr. So it’s important that you understand how to monitor your backlinks, but also if you’ve got a competitor that’s going out and buying backlinks, Google wants you to dob them in. Google wants to know about other sites buying, or selling, backlinks so they can maintain a better index.
I use Majestic, but you can also use SEMrush for this now as they have a backlink- checking tool. I utilise both and I’m getting different backlinks. That’s because the way the tools operate is they have their own crawlers and they go off and look at sites and who backlinks. I get a good cross-section using both tools.
Today’s example is a Sydney-based law firm.
You can see they have 334 referring domains, which is an extraordinary amount of domains. Two days ago they had 328 so it looks like they are actively growing these. If this were my site I’d be saying there’s lots of bad backlinks here. And there are. So with this particular tool I tend to go to the ‘Anchor Text’ area, because it will tell me quite quickly who’s having a red-hot go and trying to rank. What I look for here is things such as links that have no relevancy. Pages that have lots of categories without consistent linking themes are a dead giveaway. This site reeks of a site purely established to do backlinks. I don’t know why it has the Master Builders Association of NSW logo on there. Very weird.
So it appears as though this Australian site has been set up for backlinks. I’ll tell you how to report these sites in a minute. If you have someone who has a competitor that’s doing this, you can report them to Google and get them penalised. Possibly. At the very least you would hope that Google would downgrade their ranking because they’re trying to manipulate it through unnatural backlinks. I hear a lot of people say that reporting sites doesn’t work but recently Google said they acted on 65% of these reports. So it seems it’s worth doing.
It is something we do all the time. If we see a site above a client’s site for a particular key phrase, we’ll go and check their backlinks to see if they’re doing anything dodgy. If they are, we report them to Google. So the youth site I’ve been looking at, JLTHYouth.com, is actually (and surprisingly) a real NSW site. Usually they’d be anonymous. This one doesn’t appear to be. Although it could still be a false owner’s name.
Google places a strong emphasis on relevancy. There is none with this site. Another red flag will be the anchor text being used. There are clear examples of anchor text that people are trying to be authoritative for. Wills and Estates. And it’s the sheer volume of these. With the law firm’s site we looked at, there were about 333 other domains that are questionable. That’s an unusual amount of domains for a small law firm in NSW.
If you find links and want to report a competitor, this is what to do. Type into Google “Report paid backlinks.” You will see this link. Click on it and it will give you clear instructions on how to fill out a spam report. There are various spam reports available depending on your situation, but for this example you need the ‘Paid Links’ link. So if I were to report our example, I’d grab the actual link (journalweek.com/5-lawyer- tips/) and place it into the ‘Website selling links’ box. I’ve been warned about doing this to other SEO’s, but the thing is that if someone is above you and you’re not buying backlinks, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Use the tool and get it done. That’s it for this week. Hopefully that’s helpful and I’ll see you all again next week. Bye.