Once your SEO strategy is in place, you and your team will be watching your SERP on Google like hawks. Every time you rank higher, celebration will be in order, because you’ve clearly done something right. However, there might come a day when you look at the sites ahead of you and realize that one of them isn’t getting their SERP organically. Your immediate instinct will be to tell Google and get the site banned from the index, but there are other things you should consider first. Before you overact, take the following into account regarding the spamming site.
Make Sure Pursuing the Problem is Worth It
Before you take action against a spamming website that has a higher ranking than yours, first make sure it’s even worth it. SEO should be an important part of your overall online marketing strategy, but it should not be the entire thing. If your other marketing practices are going well, a less than perfect search engine ranking might not deserve all of your attention. In fact, it might drain more resources than it will bring back. Getting a spamming website noticed will take time and energy, so your employees will be spending their work hours on the defense versus the offense. Only if you feel that a search engine ranking higher than the spammer would benefit you should you carry on with the process.
Check Their Links
Once you know that getting to the bottom of their spam strategy or reporting them could benefit you, you should first make sure that they’re actually spamming at all. If their site is crappy and you know their high ranking is probably from their backlinks, do research into those backlinks. First, make sure that the webmaster actually created them. In some instances, spam sites link back to another without permission, and the linked site gets hundreds of other spam links. If you’re sure the webmaster created the linking network on his or her own, take a look at the quality.
Google doesn’t trust every backlink, so some of the links you’re looking at don’t even count. Once you disregard the spam links that don’t matter, take a look at what’s left. If there are high quality backlinks to the site, determine whether or not they’re better than your own. If they are, then the site deserves to have a higher SERP than yours based on Google’s algorithm. Accept the fact that the site has a higher SERP and use it as inspiration to get more backlinks of your own. If they’re all spam, consider reporting the problem to Google.
Report the Spam to Google
Google wants to improve itself at every opportunity, so it allows webmasters to report any spam that they see. A spam website with a higher SERP than your own is certainly a problem, so report it in your webmaster tools. Unfortunately, Google is not known for its diligence in responding to such reports, but who can blame them? They have hundreds of thousands of reports and problems to address every day, so a spam site ranking at 14 over your site at 15 is not at the top of their priorities list. However, it’ll bring the problem to their attention, and they’ll get to it eventually. You might not see the results for a long time. In fact, you might never see them, so move on after you’ve made the report and work towards improving your own ranking instead.
Keep Up With the Links
If you think it’s worth the risk, you could try matching the links that they have in order to boost your own SERP above theirs. Since buying links can be suspicious on search engine algorithms, you should only do so if you know that your sources are reputable. Buying bad links could drastically push your SERP lower than it already is. This is the fastest way to match the links of your spam competitor, but it is not necessarily the most holistic. If you think you can pull it off, you’ll probably make it to a higher ranking. If you don’t have the expertise necessary, you might want to try another approach.
Analyze the Links
If you determine that your spam competitor does have some respectable strategies behind its ranking, take the time to analyze why. In addition to serving as inspiration, this could be a learning opportunity for your whole team. Analyze each backlink that the spam site has and determine why they have more weight than yours. Check where the links are coming from and what the anchor text is. Find out how much diversity the backlinks provide. See which pages on the site the links are actually leading to. The answers to these questions will help you with your own site, and with the analysis, you might be able to increase your own SERP beyond the competing site in question. It takes more work than simply reporting the spam, but it will be more valuable in the long run.
Target Who They Can’t
Finally, you can outrank your spam-filled competitor by getting the backlinks that they can’t. By targeting sites and individuals that aren’t spam targets, you can build a stronger network of backlinks. Spammers usually use automated link builders and bots to increase their SERP, so human interaction is rare. Get your links the holistic way by writing posts for other sites and asking them for a link. You can also personally interact on social media to drive traffic to your site. Remember that you have one think spam sites don’t – a human touch.
Especially when you’ve put a lot of thought into your SEO strategy, it can be extremely disheartening to see a lazy spammer ahead of you on the list of search results. Unfortunately, being a tattletale and telling Google about their strategy might not work, so you should use their success to strengthen your own. Learn from their strategy and apply it to your own site. Also, intensify other aspects of your marketing plan to boost you SERP holistically. It’s easy to get mad at the sites that are taking the easy way out, but the best thing you can do is make your own site better.