Moz metrics are trusted around the web for providing an indication as to the quality of a website. Now, the company has added a new metric known as Spam Score to help you to better predict if a site is likely to receive a Google penalty. Moz engineers have been working on the new metric for a year now and have identified 17 unique factors – which Moz calls spam flags – and turned them into an overall score.
At the moment, you can only check your site’s Spam Score using Open Site Explorer (OSE), but you will soon also be able to access it through MozBar and other Moz tools. The 17 factors used to calculate the score are all equally likely to get a manual penalty, but if you have more than one factor out of the 17 then it’s much more likely that you’ll receive a penalty. Currently, the new metric only works on sub-domains, rather than pages or root domains, as this is the best solution that Moz engineers found to create the metric at scale.
According to Moz:
It does a solid job with the most obvious, nastiest spam, and a decent job highlighting risk in other areas, too.
Using Spam Score
To access the full Spam Score analysis you do need to be a Moz Pro subscriber, but you can get the basic score on OSE by typing your URL into the box. Moz says that it may make the full score available to all users in the future.
If you’re a Pro subscriber (or if you’ve signed up for a free trial) when you input a site name, you will see the above Spam Analysis page which includes a list of sub-domains that are linking back to the site. You can then click through for the details about which specific flags were triggered, as shown in the image from Moz below.
From here, you can then generate a disavow file which you can then use with Webmaster Tools Disavow Tool to bring your Spam Score down. You should of course sort through the links generated first to establish which will need to be disavowed and which can be safely left. The Disavow Tool should be used with caution as if you disavow links which are safe then it will impact your site’s ranking, perhaps significantly.
Uses for Spam Analysis
The new tool gives us a useful new metric for analysing incoming links to our sites. In the past this has had to be done manually, with a certain amount of guesswork involved when it comes to determining which links are toxic and which are not. Software does already exist for helping you to do this, but tends to be a little on the expensive side. This is fine if you deal with a lot of SEO clients, but can be too pricey if you’re just looking to keep an eye on your own site.
If you find that your site – or one of your clients’ site – has a high Spam Score then you should carry out a complete link audit in order to find the percentage of low-quality links to your site. This can be a laborious process, but not as much as recovering from a manual penalty so it’s worth doing.
You can use a variety of tools to help you to find the data that you need – MozBar and OSE are good indicators of a site’s value, but you do get more data from Majestic SEO. However, if you have a very large site, then it’s worth investing in a tool as it’s almost impossible to effectively wade your way through thousands of backlinks.
- Identify linking domains using Majestic SEO or Webmaster Tools
- Check out the PageRank and Domain/Page Authority for each
- Check for links from penalised domains
- Check the sites that are flagged on the Moz Spam Score in OSE
It’s thought that the new metric will also be used to improve existing calculations such as Domain and Page Authority. It’s worth pointing out too that the spam flags are designed to be used in conjunction with one another, with each one working as a warning that spam is present. The larger the number of flags, the bigger the likelihood that spam is present and you should be concerned. It’s thought that most sites will have one or two spam flags so it’s not a huge concern if your site is showing to have just one.
I’ve tried a few URLs in it today and noted all of them had at least one flag and some of the larger and well-known sites had as many as three or four – so don’t panic if you have a few, but do check out your link profile.
Control Over Your Link Profile
It’s not always simple to ensure that your site remains spam free, not least because the larger and more well-known it becomes, the more links it will attract. Moz’s new metric is a quick and easy way to keep an eye on your link profile without having to constantly go through it manually.
This is great for SEOs and also for marketing managers who may want to keep an eye on the overall link profile when work is outsourced. It should help to reduce the amount of sites that receive a manual penalty too as it can help to pre-empt this. If you notice that you spam score has risen, then you can take action to resolve the issue before a penalty is issued. A manual penalty can take a long time to recover from, depending on the extent of the issue and the skill of the SEO dealing with it. Overall it’s a way to help you to take control and ensure that your site and those of your clients remain as clean as possible.
We’re all vulnerable to spam links, no matter if our site is a budding personal blog or a well-known industry resource, and the new metric should help us all to combat it.