3 Link Building Tactics That Could Harm Your Site
Backlinks have always played and continue to play an important part in search engine optimisation and website ranking. This is because these links pointing to your site act as a signal or indicator to search engines of a site’s quality or value. If lots of other sites are talking about and referencing your site then your site must be pretty good, right?
Needless to say, this was once commonly abused by sites trying to manipulate search rankings through all manner of link building schemes and tactics. Now, with Google taking an increasingly-stern stance on unethical link building practices and attempts to manipulate search engine rankings, some of the link building tactics which once worked to improve site rankings could now have the exact opposite effect. Here I’ve looked at some of the techniques which you should no longer be using if you want to achieve positive, sustainable rankings.
A word on Google Penguin
The biggest single effort Google has made to combat webspam through unnatural links or unethical link building tactics came in 2012 in the form of the Google Penguin algorithm update.
This update is now commonly referred to as “Penguin 1.0”, after numerous updates followed throughout 2012 and 2013. With Google’s continually refined Penguin algorithm, “gaming the system” through spammy links has rightly become a much harder task than it once was and strong, natural links have become more valued.
Here are a few common tactics of yesteryear which should now be completely avoided.
Listings on generic Link Directories
Link Directories are websites which exist purely to provide links to other sites and provide little or no value to users. Because of this, links from these sorts of sites are seen by search engines as spammy and unnatural. For example:
If you used a search engine optimisation agency or consultant before 2010 it is highly likely that your site is listed on these low-quality link directories, due to the great link value they once provided. As this is no longer the case, it’s essential that you no longer submit your site to these sorts of sites and get any of these links removed.
Followed site-wide links (a link from every page of a site designed to pass PageRank) used to be considered a good way to get a large number of backlinks pointing to a site quickly. However this is one of the primary targets of the Google Penguin update and is hugely devalued by Google. One site-wide link is enough to seriously damage your search engine rankings.
Site-wide links could include:
- Footer links
- Site-bar links
- Blog-roll links
- Header links
If these sorts of links are essential for navigation or usability and cannot be removed (such as a link from a “.com” site to the corresponding “.co.uk” site for UK users) then these must be nofollowed by adding a short piece of code to the hyperlink. This indicates to search engines that the link is purely for the user and is not designed to pass PageRank.
If a link has been paid for then it clearly is not a natural vote for your site and should not influence your organic search performance. This is a practice Google is particularly keen to wipe out and is becoming increasingly intelligent at identifying links that it believes have been paid for, whether that’s by transfer of funds or any other incentive.
The moral of the story here is to never pay for links. If you do choose to use “sponsored posts” or “advertorial features”, it is essential that the links are nofollowed as with site-wide links. You must also ensure the link is properly marked as “sponsored” and does not appear to manipulate visitors into believing the link or post is a natural reference.
Undo the damage before it is too late…
If you suspect you may have unnatural links pointing to your site which could be affecting your search engine rankings, please get in touch to find out about my backlink analysis and removal services.