October 2019 update:
There’s been no further information on wallpaper spam links coming through from the search community-although we have seen it in multiple client backlink profiles, we haven’t seen any negative impact as a result. Bizarre occurence though it is, Google seem to be ignoring it (for now!) if you’d like more information on the origin of this strange spam tactic, please read on.
Recently, a number of our clients seem to have been affected by a new kind of spam, namely caused by wallpaper sites:
Normally, spam in SEO can take the form of blog comments, links generated from automated software on various open-source platforms, or spamming Google Analytics profiles with referrer spam, but this one is unusual in that it seems to be based exclusively on scraping, and linking to, images on many different sites at once.
What’s the reason behind this slightly bizarre phenomenon? It’s difficult to say, as the sites themselves don’t appear to be doing anything unsavoury – they simply have a scraped page of images and links:
With direct links to those images on the sites they were found on, there aren’t any affiliate or CPA links, malware, sneaky redirects, or anything on the sites that would be financially beneficial for them to snare visitors with.
Some have speculated that this could simply be a form of referral spam; alternatively it could be an experiment into negative SEO on a wide scale – this is something that will become apparent in due course. Given the scale that it seems to be happening at (there has been mention of this on internet marketing forums as well) we believe the search engines should be intelligent enough to realise that this is not deliberate manipulation by webmasters.
Do I need to take action?
It certainly shouldn’t hurt to create a disavow file specifically for these links, or update one that you already have (if you’re unsure of what a disavow file is, Google’s documentation on that is here). Finding all of the sites should be easy enough – simply log into your backlink tool of choice, and filter on the anchortext of the sites linking to your domain (which will invariably be “get free high quality hd wallpapers” or similar) also, as they all have very similar domain names and country code top level domains, they should be easy to spot. It’s not something we’re overly concerned about, although it is something that clients may need to be aware of for reporting purposes.
If you’d like advice on the offsite part of SEO, why not get in touch with us today and find out how we can help!