So far this year, the big ripples in the SEO world have come from Google’s crackdown on the manipulation of search results. We have had the Panda update that has focused on removing weak or thin content and we have also had the Penguin update that has waged war on over optimisation and aggressive link building tactics. We have also had the EMD update that has put a final nail in the coffin for Exact Match Domains.
The fact is though, links are still very important and building links should still be a component of any successful SEO campaign, you just now have to be a little smarter with your link building efforts. So, whilst there is plenty of information out covering some smarter link building strategies it is also important to have a look at the kinds of links we don’t want to build or focus on in 2012 and beyond.
Link Schemes and other Bad Website Behavior
This month (Oct 2012) Google has dusted off the cobwebs from the Webmaster Guidelines and has updated some of the
10 commandments rules we have to play by. The general guidelines themselves have been updated but of more interest with regards to link building and Google Penguin penalty is the updates to what Google considers a link scheme or a bad link.
In general, reading the links schemes page in earnest, it would appear that Google does not want us to build any links. Whilst this may be what they want, when they have an algorithm where “The quantity, quality, and relevance of links influences your ranking” and your competitor is link building then you are also going to want to do some link building to ensure you have the right quantity of high quality relevant links.
So, we still need links, but let’s try to make sure we don’t break any of the rules, bend them slightly maybe but not break them.
- Buying or selling links
- Excessive link exchange
- Building a network of sites with the sole intention of interlinking them
- Using automated link building systems
Some obvious examples
These vague types of bad links are all well and good but the good folks at Google also provide us with some examples of these bad practices that break down as follows:
- Any text link advert that has a followed link
- Irrelevant links that are inserted into articles on external sites – so, if we were to insert a link to cheap mattresses in this post then that would be a perfect example
- Low quality links from directories or social bookmarking sites – you know, like those emails you still get offering top quality White Hat SEO with 500 directory sites and 200 social bookmarks, yeah, we get them as well
- Links from the footers of external sites – web design and SEO companies watch out
- Links from forum posts with optimised anchor text in the signature or body of the post
So what does this all mean?
Well, it means that lots of the things that you could do to inflate your position will at best not work and at worst may trigger an algorithmic penalty and where that is from external links getting that fixed is often no easy task. This means that your link building efforts should be based on quality content and the promotion of that content. You should be looking for things you can create on your site that people will want to link to and giving them.
And in the real world – well, you can still do some link building but remember those two guiding rules: It has to be from high quality and relevant sources.
2. Link Schemes