The world of SEO and link building has changed dramatically in the last 18 months. Panda and Penguin have reeked havoc and websites that used to feature on page one have literally plummeted in the rankings. But why has this happened? In the majority of cases this has been because Google have deemed them to have an unnatural link profile and have penalised them for it.
Link Building Mayhem
In recent years there has been an over-emphasis on link building, particularly in relation to the quantity of links. This has happened because once someone starts their competitors will soon follow suit in order to keep in touch.
This has led to the growth of blog networks created solely for the purpose of link building and other unsavory tactics. This in turn has led to many sites being penalised in wake of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.
Why Are Google Doing This?
It’s in Google’s interest to display the most relevant results when somebody enters a search query. It makes sense that they do not want website owners to artificially build links to their sites that manipulate the results. This is why they are constantly improving their algorithm in order to display the most accurate results and to weed out what they see as link spam.
What is Link Spam?
Link Spam is basically content on the web that is created solely for the purpose of building links. Different people will give you different opinions to what exactly they consider to be link spam. Examples of link spam could include:
- Blog networks or single page blogs created for link building
- Link brokers/Link wheels/Link farms
- Forum spam
- Comment spam
- Low quality articles submitted to article directories
- Low quality press releases sites
I’m not saying these tactics will never work. What I am saying however is that Google’s objective is to identify these artificial ways of link building and and discredit/penalise those who overuse them.
Some Wholesome Alternatives
One alternative to the methods mentioned above is organic link building. This is when you earn links by publishing great content and others link to you because of this.
An essential part of an organic link building strategy is becoming active and building relationships within online communities. This can be achieved by leaving constructive comments, linking to and sharing content etc. The idea is that once you begin to gain credibility others within the community will also engage with your content.
Another alternative is Guest Blogging. This is when content written by one author is published on somebody else s blog. This allows the author to link back to your own site from the guest blog post.
Realistically many companies do not have the resources to invest in these methods as they take a large amount of time and commitment. The long-term rewards are worth it however as they are not limited to SEO.
So What’s the Solution Then?
In an ideal world websites would earn links by publishing great content. This is not always possible however so usually a compromise needs to be reached. We usually recommend that businesses pursue a combination of links from a variety sources including:
- Organic Links
- Guest Blog Posts
- Directory Submissions
- Press Releases
Actual strategies will always vary depending on the industry, the business itself, and the budget. Using these methods it is possible to build a natural link profile without using methods that may be considered link spam.