Link Building and Your Website
Link building, ie., links from other websites to your website content, has been an important part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ever since the inception of SEO. As has always been the case with just about anything internet marketing related, people have been looking to find, or develop, that “next, best short-cut to link building”. Some of these short-cuts have included items like; link farms and and other paid link exchanges (a.k.a., whatever name you want to insert here to describe the process) which have, understandably come under heavy scrutiny from search engines, particularly, Google.
Truth be told, most of the clients that I have worked with over the last 15 years have only been concerned with what Google is doing, so, that’s what I will primarily focus on here. Google has certainly advised webmasters and website owners about how paid links and link farms violate the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and that violating those policies will result in a manual spam action.
In light of the recent circumstances surrounding the Google Manual Actions placed on sites participating in a links program, I felt it would be beneficial to provide some additional information about the subject. The recent manual spam actions that I have come across over the last few weeks have been related to unnatural outbound links from websites and have not been related to inbound links directly.
The information provided here is not designed to give anyone definitive solutions for direct link building, it is, however, designed to provide enough information to convince you that buying links, or being involved in any link paid exchange programs, are simply not worth the risk. This is particularly true if, in fact, your (or your company’s) website has had a manual spam action placed on it previously. This article from Google Webmaster Central, states specifically;
“For example, a webmaster who received a Manual Action notification based on an unnatural link to another site may nofollow the link, submit a reconsideration request, then, after successfully being reconsidered, delete the nofollow for the link. Such repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve. Especially when the repeated violation is done with a clear intention to spam, further action may be taken on the site.” (Google Search Quality Team, 2015).
In other words, if your site has previously been penalized; expect the potential removal of a future violation(s) to be more difficult.
I don’t know about you, but, this makes total sense to me, how else are they (Google) going to enforce policies if they are not do not make removal of multiple violations more difficult?
I have included links listed below to what I consider to be informational, and very relevant, articles that pertain to the subjects of Link Building and some general SEO practices so as to provide some other sources from which to gather some additional information. Please understand that I absolutely realize that there are many, many, sources of information throughout the internet and it can, often-times, be very difficult to disseminate good, relevant, information from the irrelevant/irrational information that exists out there. I will add that over these past 15 years I have come across both types of sites and, of course, I am very careful about stating that a website contains valuable and/or useful information or not. I make that determination by several methods (not only for website issues, but for any/all issues) including; 1) time, in that I have read the advice, many over the last several years, and I have verified as mostly true (nobody knows everything), 2) The site has legitimate sources, with links to those sources (typically I will visit, and read, the source information as well), 3) It is a known authority site (sites such as support.google.com, etc.,), 4) Educational and governmental sites that contain research information, with sources, that do not provide any opinions (can include detailed analysis based on factual information), and, finally, 5) Websites of other professionals, in various industries, that may contain opinions, but are based on some type of annotated professional experience and/or research that makes sense when combined with information gathered from other source based websites.
I spend approximately 25+ hours per week reading various articles that pertain to a variety of subjects that matter to me, both professionally and personally, then I take the additional time to further research subjects or articles that interest me or that I determine to be important (to clients or myself) before I derive any kind of opinion on the matter.
Here are a few, relevant, articles:
From Google Webmaster Central (authored 09/18/2015): Repeated violations of Webmaster Guidelines
From Search Engine Journal: How to Build Links Using Data-Driven Content & Blogger Outreach
From SEOprofiler blog: Official Google statement: repeated spam leads to stronger penalties
My primary point here is to point out that, as much as you may hate to admit, link programs are no longer worth the risk regardless of the potential upside. Nobody wants to hear that they have to either work on creating good, quality, content or pay someone to create that content. The fact is though that search sites, like Google, have been moving towards a revenue driven business model, I have no idea why anyone would think this is a “bad” idea because why else would you be in business? That said, I would recommend that you look at your website as a marketing tool for your business and it needs to be treated as such. You certainly wouldn’t expect to be able to run an add in a local magazine, newspaper, radio, or television without paying for it or, for that matter, create and send out a mailer to a list of residents in a city or neighborhood.
Similarly, if you want to be on a customer’s (or potential customer’s) mind when they need your product and/or service, you have to get your business name in front of them on a consistent basis, you can certainly do that in a variety of ways, but, in terms of your website, you have to push quality information to them that they want to read.
Two types of links are the very BEST to obtain for any/all of your sites; 1) Educational and 2) Government. There are many, many ways to get these, but, the first step is to create some educational content for your sites, in other words, again, write a few detailed articles. I know that I am the one that always says to create content and I firmly stand behind that, there are certainly other things that can be done (creating new, static content and optimizing it, etc., ) and there is always the “good old stand-by” we go out there and get links to the site manually – yes, it’s more work, yes, it takes time, but, there is zero risk in doing that and the chances of those going away are very slim.
Other types of links to your sites can certainly come from professional designation sites, some directory sites, social networking sites, and legitimate websites that have chosen to link to your site (normally directly to a piece or pieces of content) that they have found useful or recommend to others to read.
By creating some good, quality articles, and getting backlinks to them, I’m quite confident that you won’t need to add any other “links programs” to your site as, in particular, those links sites do NOT conform to Google’s Quality Guidelines, so, why risk it?