List of 17 Spam Flags by Moz

SEOmoz’s Seventeen Spam Flags: Its Origin

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This list is from SEOmoz’s spam flags, the basis for the spam score which went live at the end of March 2015. A site’s spam score can be accessed using SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer. It is immediately visible in the top metrics and is also accessible in its own tab, “Spam Analysis”, right below the tab “Compare Link Metrics”. This service, though, is only available for Pro subscribers at the moment or through a free trial.

This list of 17 unique signals were obtained from a research, led Dr. Matt Peters, SEOmoz’s in-house scientist, which is a year’s worth of examining many potential factors that predicted that a site might be banned or penalized by the search engine Google.

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List of 17 Spam Flags

The seventeen key possible indicators that a site may be spam are:

1. Low MozTrust or MozRank Score. Your site link profile is not trustworthy.

2. Large Site with Few Links. Very few sites link to your site, considering its size.

3. Site Link Diversity is Low. The diversity of link sources to your site is low.

4. Ratio of Followed to Nofollowed Subdomains. The ratio of followed to nofollowed subdomains linking to your site is outside the normal range of others in the SEOmoz index.

5. Ratio of Followed to Nofollowed Domains. The ratio of followed to nofollowed domains linking to your site is outside the normal range of others in the SEOmoz index.

6. Small Proportion of Branded Links. Links to your site have low amounts of branded anchor text.

7. Thin Content. A subset of pages within your site have little content. If a site has a relatively small ratio of content to navigation chrome it’s likely to be spam.

8. Site Mark-up is Abnormally Small. There’s a high ratio of visible text compared to HTML, JavaScript, etc. Non-spam sites tend to invest in rich user experiences with CSS, Javascript and extensive mark-up. Accordingly, a large ratio of text to mark-up is a spam signal.

9. Large Number of External Links. There’s a high ratio of anchor text compared to context text. A site with a large number of external links may look spammy.

10. Low Number of Internal Links. Pages crawled on your site have a small number of internal links. Real sites tend to link heavily to themselves via internal navigation and a relative lack of internal links is a spam signal.

11. Anchor Text Heavy Page. There’s a high ratio of anchor text compared to content text. Sites with a lot of anchor text are more likely to be spam then those with more content and less links.

12. External Links in Navigation. There’s a large number of external links within sidebars and footers. Spam sites may hide external links in the sidebar or footer.

13. No Contact Info. None of your site’s pages crawled contain an email address or links to a social profile. Real sites prominently display their social and other contact information.

14. Low Number of Pages Found. Crawl only gets a valid response to a small number of pages. A site with only one or a few pages is more likely to be spam than one with many pages.

15. TLD Correlated with Spam Domains. Your site is on a top level domain extension often found to be the source of spam links. Certain TLDs are more spammy than others.

16. Domain Name Length. Your site name’s character count is higher than average. A long subdomain name like “buycheapviagra.totallyfreeshipping.onlinepharmacy.com” may indicate keyword stuffing.

17. Domain Name Contains Numerals. Domain names including numbers are often found to be the source of spam links. Domain names with numerals may be automatically generated and therefore spam.

How Do You Apply the Spam Score Metric?

Rand Fishkin shared some good tips on how to use the spam score in SEOmoz’s blog. Below is a summary.

  • Add this metric to your SEO tools where you find it useful.
  • Be cautious about disavowing links with 8 or more flags.
  • Don’t just take everything and disavow all. Remember, submitting a disavow list is like an admission to Google that you have been involved with link manipulation, so be very careful.

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