With Google’s release of Penguin 2.0, we have another piece of evidence to pile on the “New SEO” heap. Just like the first update, Penguin 2.0 is about punishing websites that have built poor links to their sites.
It’s not really all that surprising. Links are still a big deal in SEO, and if you can build enough of them, you’ll rank. So because of this, online business owners still find value in building links for their sites. However, too many of them are building poor-quality links. So let’s just get this out in the open:
If you build poor-quality links to your website, you are WORSE OFF than if you built no links at all!
That’s because low-quality links are BY FAR the biggest “red flag” Google looks at in a website.
Of course, that leaves us in a sticky situation. We need links, but if we build links and they happen to be “poor quality” by Google’s standards, we’re only going to be digging our own graves.
That’s why it’s absolutely vital to have a standard for the “perfect link” – a link Google views as ideal. Obviously, the best links are all-natural, meaning links you receive for simply posting great content. But sometimes you need to give your site a bit of a push. And for these situations, it’s absolutely vital you know what a good link looks like.
So let’s explore that, shall we?
Authority and Relevance
Unsurprisingly, a “good link” in Google’s eyes is a combination of two main factors: Authority and Relevance.
This is how Google’s algorithm has ranked websites from the very beginning. And it’s also how they determine whether or not a link pointing to your site is good or spammy. If it’s good, it increases your rankings. If it’s spam, it flags you for a potential penalty in a future Google update.
In a nutshell, the perfect link is a link from a well-trusted authority website in your niche. So for example, if you own a store that sells basketballs, getting a link from a site like Nike.com would be INCREDIBLE for your rankings.
What is a Spammy Link?
Have you ever visited a page that was nothing but ads, sales copy or popups that demanded you to enter your information? We all have, and like everyone else, when you did, you left as quickly as possible. These websites are not considered quality, so Google is not going to rank them high in the search engine results, and possibly not at all. If this is the type of sites you have linked to yours, then you are going to be placed in the same arena as those sites, no matter how good your site actually is!
Having backlinks on your site that are not top quality is harmful, trust me on that. Google has a strong reputation with its users, and one of the main reasons for that is it delivers quality links to its users. So before you kick and scream and start cursing the Google algorithms, take a minute to reflect on their purpose. To provide the most relevant, useful and informative links to the search results. If that is not you, don’t blame Google, blame yourself.
Looking at Relevancy
Another issue that Google has with websites is the relevancy of backlinks. If you have a website that focuses on hair loss treatments, but backlinks from sites that focus on stereo speakers, basketball, or other unrelated topics, Google will penalize you. Why? Because it displays a red flag for link farming, something many website owners did in the past to obtain more links and higher rankings.
A hair loss treatment website could have links for health-related items, shampoos, brushes, vitamins, and a variety of other topics and still be relevant.
Here are some factors Google considers for authority:
- Site PageRank – PageRank is a metric designed by Google. Now, it means a few different things, but in general, the higher the PR of a site, the more authority it has in Google’s eyes. PR is a scale from 0-10, with each number being exponentially better than the last. A PR 3 website has much more authority than a PR 2.
- Site Age – The older the site, the more authority it has in Google’s eyes. Look to get links from websites with a significant amount of age, because they’ll offer your site more authority, and will have more trust from Google automatically. However, keep in mind that just because a site is aged doesn’t mean it’s an authority. An aged site can build spammy links and get penalized just as easily as a brand new site.
- Social Engagement – Social engagement is a determining factor in whether a website produces value. If a site is valuable, a community will naturally form around it. Therefore, when looking for links, don’t spare a second glance for sites with high PR or site age, but low social engagement. This means the site is not providing value, and as such, could be a target for future Google penalties.
Getting a link on a well-trusted site with high PR, lots of social engagement and a good amount of site age will do wonders to your website. Provided you have the opportunity to get this type of link, here are some other factors you should keep in mind.
- Type of Link – Not all links are created equally. The best type of link is a link from a relevant authority site, in that site’s content. In other words, if you have a site that sells basketballs, the absolute ideal link could be a link from Nike.com, in an article about basketballs, which features your site. If you have the option, always look to get a link in the content of a site.
- Number of Links on Page – Lastly, on any given page, a site’s authority is spread out between all the other links on a page. That means if your link is one out of a thousand, the amount of authority you’ll get is minimal. On the other hand, if your link is the only link on the page, ALL the site’s authority will be funneled to you.
Continue to build links with related and authority sites, but stay away from spammy sites or those that offer no relevance for your topic. All of the chaos surrounding the topic of backlinks has created a lot of confusion, but hopefully, this article has cleared some of that up. Backlinks are still great for your website, but only if they are quality backlinks.
The practices in the past from webmasters with less than pure motives have made it necessary for Google to make these changes, and you can expect there will be more. As Google becomes smarter and more sophisticated, you can guarantee that anyone using black hat or grey hat SEO tactics will be phased out quickly.
So, what do you do? The answer is simple, stay natural and true to yourself. Don’t spend a fortune trying to buy a reputation, instead spend that money on various ways to earn a reputation. In the long run, it costs much less to market a website naturally than it does to force-feed, and the end result is a more relevant traffic base which leads to more profits for you.
Make a list of the sites that are top rankers in Google that are relevant to yours and start connecting with them. Write articles that are relevant to both yours and their topics and link to them in the content. Start building a relationship with these sites and continue to write excellent content so that maybe, just maybe, they will link to your content from their site. If what you have written is top quality, and it mentions them, of course, they will want that attention, and the best way to get it is to post your content on their site with a link back to you. Now, think about that basketball site that has a link back from Nike, that is some serious advertisement right there, and all it cost you was a great article.
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