What is Spamdexing and How to Fight Against It?

Cyberattackers are constantly looking for methods to ensure victims visit their webpages or click on their malicious links. Another tactic used by these perpetrators is spamdexing, otherwise known as SEO spamming or search engine spam. 

Domain SEO spam is when hackers leverage your website’s position and insert their keywords or links into your pages.

This malware can come in different forms, and cybercriminals use it to leverage high rankings of reputable sites to spread malicious links. 

What is spamdexing, and how do you fight it? This article discusses the spamdexing meaning, examples, and ways to avoid it. 

What is Spamdexing? How Does it work?

Spamdexing is a mix of spam and indexing. It’s an improper SEO practice that attempts to position a malicious site high in search engine results, ensuring people land on it when they input specific search engine queries. 

Spamdexing first became a significant cybersecurity issue in 1990, rendering search engines useless. After some time, Google came to the rescue by using strict algorithms and page ranking systems to promote good content and reputable websites. 

It’s a form of SEO spamming. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an array of techniques used to get a website optimized for the best possible search engine ranking and indexing. 

Cybercriminals hijack healthy and reputable websites and inject links and keywords to lure users to different malicious websites. This tactic can trick a user into believing they’ve landed on their intended web page, but they’ve been fooled in reality. 

For instance, an eCommerce provider can create a site then stuff it with keywords about a famous singer to rank his website high when fans of the singer do a query with related keywords.

Spamdexing Types

Spamdexing or search engine spam comes in many forms, and it’s essential to familiarize yourself with them to mitigate the risks. Here are some common types of spamdexing:

Spammy Keywords

Keywords are a significant component of spamdexing. When malicious keywords appear within a reputable website’s content, the Google search engine considers it safe to index the site for those terms. For example, when users search related keywords like “loan service,” “content writing,” or “sports gear,” the results usually include scams where they pay for services or products but never receive them.

Spammy Links

Links are one of the tactics used by scammers to compromise systems and trick users into divulging sensitive information. Hackers usually leave the links in the comments so that the reader clicks them for more information. Doing so can produce various results, including a redirect to a phishing site, a malware download, or simply a scammy website.

Spammy Ads

Hackers can hijack banners or CTAs (Calls to Action) displayed on reputable websites and replace them with malicious content to drive traffic to a website under their control. More often than not, this tactic is effective because users only click these links when they’re decided.

Spammy Posts and Pages

In some cases, SEO spammers develop and optimize entire posts or web pages, attempting to rank their malicious site higher on a search engine for a spammy keyword. This is even more effective on reputable sites with a good search engine ranking. 

Other SEO spam tactics include meta tag stuffing, duplication of copyright content, page hijacking, and much more.

Spamdexing Examples

The key to preventing search engine spamming is to familiarize yourself with the examples. When you understand common tactics used by hackers, you have  a better chance of avoiding an attack altogether. 

A good spamdexing example is when you enter a search query like “best joint pain medication” on a search engine, and the results come up with several top-ranked sites that aren’t related to medicine or drugs. 

In this case, the websites have been hijacked and injected with spammy medicine-related keywords. Since high-ranked sites are considered legitimate, people often fall for this trick and end up paying for services or products that don’t materialize. 

Another example is when trying to download torrents from a site, you’ll notice that clicking on the title or download link sometimes redirects you to another page. This is a hidden backlink in the link that takes you to a scam site.What is spamdexing, and how do you fight it? We discuss the spamdexing meaning, examples, and ways to avoid it, here.

How to Avoid Spamdexing?

Spamdexing will always be a threat for website owners, so it’s essential to follow security best practices to keep hackers from hijacking your website and ruining your reputation. Here are some tips to avoid SEO spamming: 

Run Updates

Your website applications or other plugins will always go out of date. So it’s vital to run frequent updates to patch security loopholes and keep cybercriminals out. You’re creating a backdoor for SEO spam infection when you ignore these updates. 

Create Strong Passwords

Most site admins use a weak password like admin123. While this password is easy to remember, hackers also find it simple to guess or crack. Make sure you practice good password hygiene. Use strong and unique passwords to protect every sensitive section of your website. 

Regularly Scan your Website and Content

Before you can fix a search engine spam infection, you need to be aware of it. In most cases, web page owners are unaware of these atrocities until penalties surface, such as reputation damage or search engine blocklisting. For this reason, it’s imperative to run regular scans of your website and content. 

Get Behind a Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) is a must-have for all website owners to prevent SEO spam infection. WAF offers absolute security by constantly updating definitions of known threats. It also increases the load time of your website to speed up efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Spamdexing has evolved with sophisticated techniques. Search engines like Google continuously improve their algorithms to detect spamdexing and eliminate the pages from their indexes. They may block websites if unethical SEO practices are detected. But it’s still crucial to guard your site against SEO spam.

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