Links have always been a vital instrument to web. However, the way webmasters acquire them for their sites has transformed. Manipulation is no longer a rescuer or a sustainable route to acquire links.
Google has become proficient at recognizing links specially built in an attempt to trick search engine rankings. It dismounts the value of those links or penalizes them and tag them as ‘Unnatural links’. Not to mention, it will be meaningless trying your luck cheating Google algorithm.
So now all you have to ponder about is improving your authority, relevance & value online and most importantly, ensuring that Google should recognize your site.
Websites link to other websites generally for navigation, reference, citation and for endorsements. Link building existed even before Google adopted the practice and manipulation was a key way to build links.
This blog is a brief story behind the evolution of link building and discussing about the days when Google’s Penguin algorithm fought spamming.
Pre- Penguin Era
Google used links within its search engine algorithm. As Google was becoming highly popular, so did the race to rank higher in Google spawned. Many sites developed malicious ways and techniques to boost their search results.
As high ranked sites on Google drive traffic and revenue, people started playing with links. They started creating artificial links to influence a hike in search results. Also, automated software was used to generate spam links which were specially intended for Google’s Web crawlers and carried no value for human users.
These manipulative tactics were deleterious and hampered Google results. Consequently, in an effort to fight this rampant outbreak of link spam, Google introduced ‘Penguin Algorithm’.
Post- Penguin Link Building
The Penguin Algorithm targeted link spam directly changing the scenario dramatically. It punished those who attempted to manipulate the system. It didn’t change the original guidelines of Google but simply improved Google’s ability to detect manipulation, and give better search results.
Being punitive in nature, Penguin created a sense of fear and uncertainty. If your business got affected by the Penguin search, you could only recover after the algorithm receives a core update, which happened only once a year.
So it could literally destroy your business.
This wasn’t all, there few black-hat SEOs who found more new ways to manipulate search results. But the main point is penguin combated this manipulative linking practise.
Real Links, Real Marketing
As Google improved its ability to detect scams, linking strategies started to be developed around Google’s Search Algorithm. Links were always valued most and now they were not built for just Web crawlers but are user-centric.
With the evolution of Google’s search algorithm, Audience-first perspective was practised. It was more effective and avoided potential issues with Penguin too. The type of links that supported web search, same substantiated for Google’s approach which included- Navigation,
Reference, Citation and Endorsements.
Now, instead of mass generation of manipulative links to seek full advantages of opportunities, you need to engage to real webmasters. Convince them to link to you i.e. manually promote your business and show relevance of your website.
So the rules of game are still same, it’s just the way to play has changed.
Good bye to unhealthy spammy tactics of Guest Posting, Resource link building, Blog/ Forum Commenting or Directory Listings.
Not that these methods are considered spam but if you use it in manipulative manner, it does become spammy. Talking about each:
Where Guest Posting is surely an effective mode to endorse your business, there is always a good and bad way.
Good Way :
Here is a guest post on The Huffington Post.
The topic of post is in relevance to the section and the author has also imparted useful information for the site’s audience.
As we can see at the bottom of the post, author left a back link to her blog.
It indicates clearly that this author, and her site is endorsed as a credible site by Huff Post.
Given below is an example of a spam post which is full of links (yet broken).
It neither suits the content nor offers any value.
Resource Link Building
It totally depends on the relevance and value. If you find a site where your resource would add value for your site then you should certainly post the link. The point to notice is, that your link should add value to site’s audience as well else no one would be interested to link with you.
Here is an illustration of good and bad way of resource link building.
It is a resource list from Moz which facilitates inbound marketing for its visitors. The page includes links of other companies because Moz endorses these businesses.
Firstly, such link exchanging sites should be flagged. Links on this page cover topics like poker, tanning beds etc which are irrelevant and are worth avoiding.
During pre-Penguin era, many directors simply linked farms that would target anyone to everyone but such directories are useless today.
The basic criteria to determine whether you should post your link in the given directory or not is- “will my audience find my link here”? And if the answer is affirmative then go ahead.
This is a directory that lists local painting co. that offers relevance to its audience at two levels, industry and location wise. You can notice companies have left their back link for their websites.
The screenshot below clearly shows the chaos where links to sites range from Canada to Romania. There is no industry or location specific relevance. Hence clearly depicts uselessness of posting here.
Blog/ Forum Commenting
Relevance is important when it comes to commenting on a blog or forum.
You can’t keep commenting or dropping your links wherever you wish to. That will lead to spamming with no results.
So make sure you are posting at right site, page, forum or community. Your engagement must involve people of your industry or product/ services.
The comment added by Nicholas is adding value to the current topic, and he was able to point people to P1P’s eBook as a help guide.
One can easily figure out, that the comment above is Robot-generated and offers no human value. They generally get deleted by spam filters or the owner of website itself.
Link Building is not about about manipulations anymore. Right Marketing is the key. So build Citations, references, endorsements and direct navigations which reflect your brand exclusivity. Contribute and promote valuable content, so as to make Web a user-friendly place.
Build links for people and not for web crawlers.