How to Handle Spam Links in Google Search Console

There are countless ways to check your website’s backlink network, from to Google Search console. Not surprisingly, there tend to be inconsistencies between reporting platforms. It’s a good idea to check in regularly in multiple places to make sure you know what’s going on from all angles. 

That’s what we did recently. Here’s what we found on a site we keep an eye on.


Google Search Console

Three spam sites showing thousands of referring links to only a handful of pages

Now, if you don’t see anything suspicious here then you must be extremely new to the business. We’re no stranger to spam attacks, and we’re pretty sure that isn’t actually driving any conversions or helping our authority. Neither are any of the three sites below it.


I decided to check it out and see if I could fix it. Google has made it pretty clear that the disavow tool is largely useless at this point, considering the search engine has become advanced enough to be able to recognize whether or not links are spam, i.e Google probably isn’t taking very seriously. 


I went to Google’s “Disavow Support” page, in search of support. I noticed one thing first:

Google saying to only disavow if there are a large number of spam sites and a manual action has been taken against the site

Well, since the site neither has a manual action against it, nor a huge influx of spam referrals, I probably don’t need to disavow. Then I noticed the second thing:

Google saying that disavowed links will still show up in link reports on Google Search Console

Even if I did disavow the links, they would still show up on Google Search Console. They aren’t actively causing any damage, and even if I did take action, they would still show up on the report. 


But are they causing an impact?

I decided to hop over to, just to make sure. And sure enough:

No results showing up in for the spam sites

It was the same case for the other two spam sites. Not even a trace. 


I even went on Google Analytics and checked where referred traffic was coming from. With a time frame of over 5 years and 1,600 referring URLs, not a single user came from any of those sites. My journey had come to an anticlimactic end. 


What To Do If Your Links Are A Problem

Just because these links weren’t a problem doesn’t mean that negative SEO attacks aren’t a thing. Floods of spam referrals have been the downfall of many a site. So how should you handle an influx of spam?


Follow Google’s Disavow Support page. Disavow as many of those bad links as you can and start rebuilding your authority with reputable sites. It takes time and effort and frustration, but your site is probably salvageable. 


If your law firm has been hit with a negative SEO attack, contact Mockingbird. We have experience helping firms out similar binds.

Another Indicator That Your “SEO Content” Is Awful

I’ve been railing against the conventional wisdom that more content is the magic SEO bullet for years now. In fact, for many of our clients, we’ve been proactively working on decreasing pagecount, instead of increasing it. There’s a great framework for assessing the value of investing more money on more content in a Searchengine Land article I wrote that essentially shows how to evaluate the efficacy of content in actually generating traffic. Simple stuff, but often overlooked – which is crazy given the vast investment many lawyers make in vomiting out more content at a regular clip.

There’s an even easier way to review this through a very simple report in Google Search Console. This simple report shows the number of pages in your sitemap compared to the number of pages in your sitemap that are actually indexed. In the extreme example below, less than 12% of their sitemap is actually indexed. This means while Google knows about the content, they don’t actually care and those pages will NEVER surface in search results.

Note that this could be for a variety of reasons:

  1. The sitemap is dated and/or broken and showing pages that don’t exist (this happens more frequently than you can imagine)
  2. The site has a tone of content, yet lacks the authority (backlinks) to support the volume of content.
  3. The content on the site is extremely poor and/or copied.

Assuming the sitemap is correctly configured…if the vast majority of your blog isn’t being indexed…why would one continue generating content?

Top 5 Most Important Sections in Google Search Console

Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is a free tool that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s organic presence in Google search results. It is Google’s primary method of communication with webmasters, and is how you would be informed of serious site issues, such as manual penalties and potential hacks. The top 5 most important areas to pay attention to are as follows:

5. Crawl Errors

crawl-errors-google-search-consoleCrawl Errors give you valuable information on what is happening when Googlebot attempts to crawl your website. Errors show up when Googlebot attempted to crawl and was unsuccessful for one reason or another. For each error type, you can hover over the question mark to get more information.

Generally, crawl errors shouldn’t be too alarming – Google has said they are a natural part of the web ecosystem. However, if you’re seeing an increasing number of errors or an overall large number, it could mean users are having a poor experience when using your site. You can resolve crawl errors by manually correcting an incorrect link, or setting up 301 redirects.

4. Sitemaps


A site map is, quite literally, a map of your site that you can use to tell Google about the organization of your site’s content. Using this tool you can see all of the sitemaps that have been submitted for your site, the date they were processed, and any issues that have come up with them.

In a perfect world, the blue bar showing the number of pages you’ve submitted via sitemap would exactly match the red bar, showing the number of pages Google has indexed. This doesn’t need to be perfect, but if there’s a big disparity, it’s something worth checking out. It could mean your sitemap lists old/broken URLs, or Google is not indexing all of your pages.

3. Index Status


Similar to the sitemap tool, this section shows how many pages on your website Google has indexed (recognized). This tool can be very useful for identifying trends over time. Namely, if there’s a sudden drop in the number of pages Google has indexed for your site, there’s probably a problem.

2. Manual Actions


In this section, Google will notify you if you’re received a manual penalty. Here, no news is good news. However, if you do receive a manual penalty, it’s crucial you find out as soon as possible.

1. Security Issues


Finally, in the security issues section Google will let you know if your site has been suspected to have hacking or phishing issues. Again, no news is good news. If you were to have a hacking issue, you can also find troubleshooting resources here.