Injection spam attacks in SEO are a nightmare.
They are well camouflaged and concealed from view. And the longer they linger on your web, the more harm they do. Since they are difficult to identify, many website owners do not know they have been compromised until it is too late.
Yet among the fortunate ones are you. It was found by your security scanner. Was it Google Search Consoles or an SEO tool that revealed your site was ranking for words like “cheap Gucci bags” or something similar?
That said, SEO spams are tricky to find and clean up. And after deleting it, this is so many websites encounter re-hacks.
We’ve helped thousands of customers eliminate all traces of SEO spam from their websites over the past decade. We’re going to show you the exact steps we’ve taken to clean up SEO spam.
In addition to this, we give tips on how to ensure you never again become a victim of SEO spam hacks.
What Exactly Is SEO Spam?
SEO spam, also known as spamdexing, is an effort to rate material that won’t rank otherwise by using the website. This is the SEO technique for a black hat. Hackers use it to generate money, but they spam & kill your website in the process.
Why is it referred to as SEO spam?
You already know that SEO stands for optimization for search engines. To optimise the content of their websites, companies use SEO strategies so that they rank on search engines such as Google.
By default, SEO isn’t considered spam. Some SEO techniques, however, are considered black hat.
If Google discovers that your website is using black hat SEO tactics, you will be banned from the search engine.
This is why it’s so dangerous for spam hacks. To rank their own goods or sites, hackers break into your website and use black hat SEO techniques. They make a lot of money in the end, and your website is left behind in ashes.
How do hackers gain access to your site in the first place?
Via an obsolete plugin or theme or poor credentials, hackers gain access to any website.
The hacker exploits the vulnerability of obsolete plugins and themes to break into your website and inject viruses such as favicon.ico malware, wp-feed.php malware, etc.
They can also use bots to try to guess your username and password on your login page. Within a few minutes, bots will try out hundreds of credentials. They will restore access to your admin dashboard by cracking weak passwords in seconds.
They begin injecting SEO spams into your posts and pages once they gain access to your admin dashboard.
You need to clean it completely if you have just heard that your site has SEO spam. In the next part, we’ll walk you through the steps you’ll need to take.
Jump to this section if you want to learn more about SEO spam, why hackers spread it, and how it affects your web.
How to Detect & Clean SEO Spam Hacks?
You may have seen the following signs on your website that suggest the existence of SEO spam:
- Deceptive site ahead of Google Search Console Alert Alert, it is possible to hack this site Google search results
- contain an alert
- A sudden fall or rise in traffic
- Unexpected advertisements
- Fresh pages and entries
- Unusual anchor text, such as “buy viagra” or “cheap Gucci shoes,” as well as uncommon Japanese characters
Sucuri SiteCheck, an online scanner, may have found traces of SEO spam on your site. However, to find every single spam script on your web, you’ll need a dedicated scanner.
The best plugin for the job is MalCare Protection Scanner.
The main goal is to find any trace of your website’s malware. It takes the following measures to do this:
- To find SEO spam files, dig deep and look in every nook and cranny.
- Identify the secret forms of malware on your web that are well-disguised or recent.
Once and for all, let’s get the malware.
Detecting SEO Spams
Step 1: Download and instal MalCare Security on your WordPress website.
Step 2: Go to MalCare on your WordPress dashboard and enter your email address, then click Safe Site Now.
Step 3: Next, enter a new password and add the MalCare dashboard to your site. The plugin will begin scanning your site right away. It’ll take a couple of minutes to complete the process. MalCare will warn you if it detects malware on your website. You need to automatically clean your site once malware is found. You will cause more harm the longer you wait.
Cleaning SEO Spams
Step 1: MalCare will warn you on its dashboard that your site is being hacked.
Click on Auto-Clean to delete the hack, i.e., SEO spam.
MalCare will immediately commence cleaning up the website.
Please bear in mind that Auto-Clean is a premium feature that needs an upgrade. For $99, you can clean one site. The licence will last for a year and you can clean your site as many times as you like within that time period. But if you have your website installed MalCare, it will shield you from bot and hackers. But you just don’t ever need to scrub your website again.
How To Protect Websites From SEO Spam?
Removing SEO spam does not guarantee the security of your site in the future.
Yes, you can use a protection plugin to protect your site from a variety of threats. Yet defence is an obligation that is shared. You’ve got your bit to do.
Here, we’ll talk about which security steps you should delegate to a security plugin and which ones you must take for yourself.
Using a Firewall
A firewall is a buffer between your website and the traffic that tries to reach it.
The firewall checks if it was involved in any nefarious activities in the past before anyone accesses your site. If that was the case, all traffic from that country or system was automatically blocked.
You don’t have to think about downloading a firewall plugin if you’ve cleaned up your website with MalCare. MalCare provides an in-built firewall and as soon as you instal the plugin on your web, it is automatically activated.
Protecting Your Login Page
On a WordPress platform, the login page is the most vulnerable.
It is the website’s portal. This page is also more targeted by hackers than any other page on the web.
Hackers attempt to break into your site by finding the correct username and password combination. This kind of hack attack is known as the attack of brute force.
They’ve also developed bots that can test hundreds of different combinations in a matter of minutes.
User accounts with easy-to-guess usernames and passwords are easy to hack into.
To stop such a tragedy, you must take the following steps:
- Ensure that specific usernames and secure passwords are used by all users.
- Limit the number of login attempts that have failed.
This is a great example of a mutual duty being security.
To ensure that your users are using strong credentials, you can speak with them. But to allow CAPTCHA defence, you need a security plugin as well.
CAPTCHA-based login security is already available if MalCare is installed on your web. The user will be blocked from making further attempts by three unsuccessful attempts to log into your site.
Keeping Your Site Updated
Mods, themes, and the foundation of your website all need to be updated from time to time.
You will put off updating your website until you have more time. This is a massive blunder.
Not only do updates incorporate new functionality, but they also contain security fixes. The plugin, theme, or even the centre is fragile without them. To hack your website, hackers take advantage of this vulnerability.
The point is that you need to keep updating your website. For new updates, check your site periodically.
Since it’s inconvenient to have to search for updates on a daily basis, many managers choose to automate the method. Automatic updates, however, are known to break down websites, and so it is advisable.
Here is a guide to how you can easily update WordPress pages.
Employing Least Privileged User Principles
Users are assigned one of the following positions on a WordPress website:
- Superadmin (in multisite installs)
Not every user has access to all of a website’s functionality. Every place has a set of forces.
The super admin and admin have the most strength, while the subscriber has the least.
Admin roles are exploitable, so cautiously delegate user roles. Here’s a great article on which roles, WordPress Roles and Responsibilities, allow what kind of control.
You are building a framework for website protection by taking the measures we have mentioned above. That’s something you can build on. There are also other security steps you can take. Here’s an exhaustive list of security steps for WordPress that you may take.
Why Do Hackers Want to Distribute SEO Spam?
The primary motive behind SEO spam is to build money by scamming individuals. By scamming your guests, to be more specific.
A loophole, such as a weak password or an obsolete plugin, enables hackers to gain access to your site.
They find your top-ranking pages once within, and perform the following activities:
- Inserting the site’s links into existing pages
- Adding spam comments to your articles and pages
- Changing the URLs of your pages to point to other sites
- Adding links and spammy material to new posts and websites, and so on
Their aim is to steer traffic away from your fake website.
It takes a lot of time to rank on Google. So, rather than putting in the effort, they are profiting from your website’s rankings.
Hackers attack all sizes of WordPress websites, and not usually just the major ones. Small websites, NGOs, and WordPress blogs are the most popular victims who take the protection of their site lightly.
What Are The Different Types Of SEO Spam Attacks
On hacked websites, there are 5 different forms of SEO spam that hackers carry out. There are:
- Spam Keyword Insertion
- Spam Link Injection
- Creating New Pages
- Display Banners And Ads
- Spam Emails
On a compromised website, hackers may use a variation of the above techniques. Let’s take a look at what involves each tactic:
1. Spam Keyword Insertion: Hackers insert keywords like “cheap Gucci shoes” or “buy Viagra” into the existing content of your website. Search engines assume that the material is about “cheap Gucci bags” or “purchasing Viagra.” For those keywords, they start to rank your content.
2. Spam Link Injection: Visitors looking for “cheap Gucci shoes” or “buy Viagra” come to your site and they click on the links implanted by hackers to go to scam sites claiming to sell those products.
3. Creating New Pages: Hackers create new pages of spam content on websites with large numbers of posts. Keyword links leading to shady websites abound on these pages. Since your site already has a decent search engine rating, these pages rank easily.
4. Banners and Advertisements Display: Banners and pop-up ads attract attention and persuade users to click on them. They’re used by hackers in the pages they post on your site. Your visitors would eventually end up on scam sites if they click on the ads.
5. Spam Emails: If hackers gain access to your website’s database, they can also gain access to your customers’ email addresses. To advertise goods, they should start sending emails. The email that customers will consider to be trustworthy will be sent from your legitimate email address. Customers will end up ordering goods that they will never get.
Customers will lose faith in your organisation and they will begin flagging your emails as spam. You will be flagged as spam by mail servers. This is impossible to recover from and valuable customers can be lost for good.
How Does SEO Spam Affect Your Site
We have taken a real-life example to explain what happens to your website when it is under spam attack.
The hacker wants to sell illicit or prohibited online prescription products such as Viagra and Cialis through a website called ‘Canada Drugs’ in this case.
In the top-ranking pages of websites they hacked, they have inserted the keywords ‘Viagra and Cialis’. This is referred to as the black-hat SEO techniques, also known as pharma hack, rated these websites when someone tries to purchase these drugs online.
In Google’s search bar, we typed in ‘order Viagra Cialis online’ and these were the results we got.
It was not pharmaceutical websites that rated for this term, but rather:
- An eco-friendly company’s ‘About’ website
- The website of a French music festival’s ‘tariff info’ page.
- The beverage page of a Mexican restaurant menu
Isn’t it incredible how spontaneous that is? They target any easy-to-attack site.
As we previously mentioned, it is one of the most difficult to detect. This is because it is done in such a way that it is concealed from you and only search engine bots are able to see it.
The pages looked normal when we went to the first website directly by typing the domain name into the address bar.
However, if we searched for it on Google and then clicked on the link to this site, we were taken to a spam page advertising the hacker’s pharma website, “Canada Drugs.” As the owner can’t see it normally, hacks go undetected for a long time.
Your website will suffer the following consequences as a result of SEO spam:
- Your pages have been hijacked so that they tend to rake for the wrong keywords. This implies that no one buys your product or service. As a result, you will suffer a sales loss.
- Since your site is ranked for incorrect keywords, all your SEO efforts are wasted.
- Visitors who come to your website are routed to scam websites where they pay to purchase items they will never get. This is going to affect your image and confidence. They would be careful not to click on your link the next time someone sees your site on the search engine.
- They will suspend and blacklist your site as well as your AdWords account when your hosting company and search engines figure out that your site is hacked.
- Loss of customer data would result in a loss of confidence that will kill your business.
So, what’s next?
You’ve successfully removed SEO spam from your WordPress account.
Regrettably, it isn’t the end of the story. You can be exposed to re-hacks after being hacked. This is why it is important to take care.
On your web, install and enable an efficient WordPress security plugin such as MalCare. Spam, malicious bots, and hackers are all blocked by the plugin’s firewall.
Using a WordPress Backup Plugin, make a full backup of your website so that you can restore it back to normal in a jiffy when your website goes down.
Additionally, harden your website to keep it safe from potential hacking attempts.