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What Classifies A Website as Spammy or One You Should Avoid?

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Everyone at some point another comes across a website that you can only think of as “spammy.” You may not know what it is about the website that turns you off, but it does. People that come across these types of sites don’t stay on them for long. But what classifies a website as spammy? After all, many websites look pretty good, but there is still something about them that speaks of spam. Most people know a spammy website when they see one, but not everyone can tell you exactly what it is about the site that makes it that way.

Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard to avoid spammy sites. That’s because many of your favorite sites may also use a lot of spammy tactics. Spammy sites drain everybody’s enjoyment of the internet. They cause search engines trouble with finding relevant sites for your queries. Here are a few of those tactics in no particular order.



Most things that identify a website as spammy is the amount of noise on the page. This noise can come in many different forms, but technically, if it’s not a part of the main content, then it’s noise. Some noise is expected, but sometimes websites have so much noise on the page that it scares people away.

Keyword spam

A long time ago (in Internet years), you could come across a website that consisted of nothing but keywords. You could do a search in your favorite search engine and find yourself on a page that has nothing but search terms. Even a little later when people started adding some content to their pages, they would still embed that spammy string of text somewhere on the page. This practice frowned on, and search engines will penalize sites for doing it. So you know what many webmasters started doing? They started placing the keywords in their content. While this is typically how you’re supposed to do it, some sites overdo it. Beware of sites that obviously overuse keywords. There are tasteful ways to use keywords these days, and search engines prefer them.

Advertisements everywhere


A well-placed ad or two is perfectly fine. But when there are more ads on screen than content, then there’s a problem. Sometimes the ads are so overbearing that you think they actually are the content. Have you ever gone to a website that has advertisements everywhere? Or one that has pop up ads that ambush you, or ads that follow you around on the screen no matter where you scroll? These sites that use all of this ad noise are most definitely spammy sites. Even some sites, widely regarded as reputable, often fall prey to having too many advertisements on the screen.

Links, links, links

There’s nothing wrong with having many internal links available for people to click through, but some sites go too far. They will pack their page with so many extra links that it’s hard to figure out which one might be a link that you’ll actually want to click. Like other spammy tactics, all of these links are just more distracting noise. Most people who visit a site will immediately see all of those links that take away focus from the content.

Too many pictures, too many videos

We are in a very visual age. People expect to see pictures and videos to compliment content. People also like to have the pictures right there so they can see them without having to click a link. Unfortunately, many websites have taken this to another level by overloading pages with pictures and embedded videos. If you can continue to scroll down a page and see more and more pics and vids, then that may make the page seem a little spammy. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for this, but the sites that rely on pictures, such as photography blogs, have found ways to make this much easier on the browser.

Have you seen this before?

copy copy

You ever notice that some sites look identical to some others? If you go to a site with a layout that’s so generic and information that looks like it came straight from another site, then you are looking at a spammy site. Some sites completely rip the layout of others and fill it with spammy site features.


Badly written content is one of the biggest signs the website just doesn’t care. Some bad writing isn’t so bad, it happens. But when you read a review or a post or anything, and it reads like a three year old wrote it, then you are almost certainly on a spammy website. The content is just filler.

Affiliate baiting

There is nothing wrong with a blogger or webmaster using affiliate links on their page or in their content. When all the content on the page is nothing more but a long advertisement filled with links to the same place or product, then there is a good chance it’s a spammy website. This one is a little subjective though. After all, there’s nothing wrong with content geared towards a single purpose. It might just be the thing you’ve been looking for. It’s really only spammy when the site pretends that it is doing something other than that. If it has multiple posts and various pages that all say the same thing and lead you to the same product, then it’s just a spammy site. It could accomplish that purpose with a static page and some information.

External links

You ever go to a site where every single link is an external link? This often goes hand-in-hand with those sites that seem to consist of nothing else but links. You should avoid these types of sites if you come across them. A site that only seems to always point you to another site is always a big indication that you are dealing with a spammy site.

Seeing the difference

There are many other ways to spot a spammy site. Broken images, extremely hard to read content, no engagement or social networking features anywhere. A lot of the time, you will get a gut instinct. Most people that have spent time on the internet can usually spot a spammy site with no help. Spammy sites may use one method or a combination of the methods listed. It’s important to remember that while many spammy sites use such methods, so do many legitimate sites. You have to make the call. If you come across a site with a thousand and one ads, but great, well-written content, then it’s probably a good site.

In the end, the sites that you need to avoid are the sites that offer you nothing of value. This goes for spammy sites as well as other sites. Most people know a good site when they see one, and others can learn to accept a site as it is, even if it has a few flaws. Content is king, so when you find the kind of content that appeals to you, then you will know that you’re in the right place.

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George Nielsen

George Nielsen has been in the internet marketing game since 2008 and is passionate about helping businesses use SEO and inbound marketing to generate leads online. He has a B.S. in Marketing Management, loves fishing, and is a big football fan.

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