Spam Signals: What Your Moz Spam Score Says About Your Website's Trustworthiness

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Scott Baradell

Does Google consider your website trustworthy or spammy?

For most sites, the answer is somewhere in between. Google looks at SEO trust signals to determine how much to value your content. These include positive indicators like how many years your website has been online, as well as the number of inbound links to your website from trusted sources, such as top news sites.

But Google looks at negative signals, too -- "spam signals," you might call them, that suggest your site might not be so trustworthy after all.

Moz makes SEO software that, among other things, helps companies to see how spammy their websites appear to Google, based on correlations that Moz uses to create what it calls "spam scores." Moz's list of website spam signals can be broken down into six categories:

  1. Domain spam signals. Google looks to see (1) if you are using a top-level domain extension (e.g. .info, .cc, .pl, etc)  that many spam domains use; (2) if the length of the subdomain and root domain is similar to those used by spam sites; (3) if there are numerals, hyphens or a high number of sequential consonants or vowels in the domain name, because those are common in spam sites; and (4) if you are an http domain rather than an https domain, because many spam sites don't invest in SSL certificates.
  2. Content spam signals. Content correlations to spam sites include (1) a low number of pages; (2) the presence of "poison" words commonly associated with spam site topics such as pharmaceuticals, adult content and gaming; and (3) the use of these poison words as anchor text for outbound links.
  3. Contact spam signals. The lack of contact information on the site such as (1) an email address; (2) a phone number; or (3) an associated LinkedIn page are spam signals.
  4. Metadata and coding spam signals. Indicators of a potential spam site include (1) absence of Google Font API, Google Tag Manager or the Doubleclick ad tag; (2) absence of a favicon; (3) absence of a Facebook tracking pixel (4) use of meta keywords; (5) use of a non-local rel=canonical tag; and (6) use of very long or very short title elements, meta descriptions, keywords or url path lengths.
  5. Outbound links spam signals. Spam sites are more likely to have (1) abnormally high or low external outlinks; (2) abnormally high or low unique domains to which they link, and (3) abnormal ratios of links to content.
  6. Traffic spam signals. Sites with very little traffic, based on Moz's analysis of Jumpshot clickstream panels, correlate with spam as well.

Moz provides all websites with a Moz Spam Score that estimates the percentage of sites with similar characteristics that have been penalized or banned by Google. If the percentage is high, your site may be at risk for a similar fate.

Please note that the Moz Spam Score is based on internal website factors, which are completely in your control. It does not consider the spamminess of the sites linking to you -- but Google does. So you should study not only at your own site's spam score, but also the scores of sites linking to you, to get a complete picture of how Google views your website's trustworthiness.

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