I recently took on a new website client. During my initial research, I ran their website through ahrefs. I discovered several dozen (maybe a little more) of spammy looking backlinks. Some dating back 2-4 years ago and some as recent as last month.
The bad links all have anchor text along the theme of "cheap nba jerseys" or nhl, or nfl, etc...
At first, I thought maybe they had infected their website with some sort of malicious script. The anchor text is completely unrelated to anything even remotely related to their industry.
Half the links point to their root domain, the rest point down a subdirectory path that does not exist on their website, so they 404.
But here's an additional component to this problem.
I ran the link profile for the website company who built their website (and who I'm pretty sure is hosting this client's current website) and their very own marketing site has hundreds and hundreds of these same dirty backlinks.
I visited a few of the originating web pages and they're mostly all meaningless blog postings. Each post/page has several external links. From all the links I've inspected, they're all pointing to other local websites built by this same company.
I've Googled just about everything I can think of and I'm getting nowhere.
My operating assumption right now is that this website agency has been hacked and/or infected with some malicious scripts on their server.
So here are my questions:
Does anyone recognize this or KNOW what is going on? Is this a negative SEO attack? Is this intended to hurt the SEO value of the targeted websites? Is Google smart and helpful enough to ignore this without dealing out heavy penalties?
I'm at a loss.
Anyone have a clue what is happening and how to fix it or if it's anything even to be concerned with?