Google Webmaster Tools Latest Links to Site
Latest Links to your site; something new from Google Webmaster Tools. It’s been a while since Google added anything new to their webmaster tools collection, but this new information tool is a “goody”. Latest Links to your site is a downloadable file, in CSV or Google Docs format, providing the site owner with a list of discovered backlinks, sorted by date and date-stamped.
Find Trackback Spam
The first practical use that comes to mind for Webmaster Tools Latest Links is to check for trackback spam. Trackback spam is a black-hat SEO technique to get you to publish trackbacks. The spammer sends a trackback to a post on your blog, hoping it will be published automatically, or approved if comments approval is required. But the black-hat doesn’t actually publish a link to the post – it’s a scam. And being friendly WordPress.com bloggers many of us see a trackback and think, “how nice, someone has given me a backlink, let me reciprocate”.
Now we have a tool to check whether a trackback is genuine, or just spam, without visiting the referer link. Which is great, because when we visit the spam link, the black hat has succeeded in his goal – driving traffic to the spamming site. With Latest Links from Webmaster Tools, we just need to wait for Google to update the link report, and can see immediately if the trackback has really been posted.
There’s another, more sinister, use of trackback spamming; Negative SEO…
Uncovering Negative SEO
If one aspect of Positive SEO is building high value backlinks, The opposite, creating bad backlinks to a site from a spam site or other bad site is part of Negative SEO. Negative SEO is a black-hat technique we are seeing more of lately. The black-hat is hired to damage your site reputation by building links to a your site from a site known as a spammer or even a malware or phishing site.
This form of negative SEO is usually undertaken at the request of a business rival, or a person with malicious intent, with the sole intention of damaging your site’s ranking. Ali Shaikh writes about this practice in To Catch a Spammer: Uncovering Negative SEO
The Latest Links Report
The infographic below is an extract of the latest links report for my website, graphicline.co.za
I highlighted a few examples of suspicious links. Firstly, line 4 is a Spam Trackback link – It only existed long enough to get indexed, then was removed. The two blocks of links at the bottom that may or may not be suspicious… (tool.adminso.com) These are probably not Negative SEO, but I’m using them to demonstrate the principle. (I usually deny access to my sites from these spying tools when I find activity in the site logs – so this is another use for “Webmaster Tools Latest Links”).
- Too Many Backlinks (graphiclineweb.wordpress.com)
- Trackback Spam (graphiclineweb.wordpress.com)