It’s been a while since Penguin. In fact, Google releases some ~500 algorithm updates a year. Yes, that adds up to one update per day – and then some.
It’s important to keep this fact in mind as we monitor the search engine rankings. Not every update has something to do with a big name algorithm update. Yes, these are Google’s benchmarks – the big updates that make SEO news headlines. But they’re certainly not the only updates Google releases throughout the year. Not even close.
With Panda and Penguin, most SEO’s are confused. And for good reason! Google’s taken everything “standard” about optimizing and turned it on its head.
Backlinks have always been the foundation for SEO. Everything else was simply a bonus. As long as you had the right types of links, you could rank for any term with any website. Then Google came along and changed that.
It’s not a numbers game anymore. And you have to be careful. As we just saw with Penguin, even if you’re building only slightly gray hat links, you may be penalized.
Here’s an example. Often, when someone develops a piece of software or website theme, they give themselves credit in the footer – usually by linking back to their original site. So if someone uses that theme, their website will automatically link back to the creator’s website.
This is a great idea to get credit and link juice, but Google finds it manipulative. We’ve seen websites with these types of incoming links penalized. So it’s clear that backlinks are no longer what they used to be – not even close. Google is seriously monitoring backlinks. SEO’s who continue to use “Old SEO” principals will be penalized. It’s that simple.
Here Are Some Types of Link Building Strategies to Avoid
Article Directory Backlinks
This is a big one. Remember pre-Mayday? This was THE place to get easy backlinks. Write a handful of articles, spin them, post them on every article directory in existence – rank #1 here we come!
Then Mayday came. This is maybe Google’s most aptly named update. Because when it was released there was panic. Google changed how everything worked. Some internet marketers had hundreds of sites at rank #1 – sites that provided them with a full-time income. But after Mayday, all these sites were removed. And with it, all the income.
But it wasn’t until Panda that the article directory sites themselves were absolutely crushed. What Mayday started, Panda finished. At this point, getting backlinks from article directories is the equivalent to painting a target on your website for Google anti-spam bots.
Forum Posts Signature Links/Blog Comments
Folks, if you’re still using forum post links or blog comments, we strongly suggest you stop. Not only have these links been significantly devalued, but like article directory links, these types of links raise an immediate red flag to Google bots.
Sure, it’s okay to post your site in a forum signature – if that’s a forum you regularly participate in. But it’s not okay to have hundreds of accounts on hundreds of forums, each with the same forum link and anchor text.
And it’s definitely not okay to have bots spam forums with your link in the signature.
Web 2.0 Properties
This was another big one – just like article directories. Squidoo, Hubpages, blogger blogs, etc. You never hear about these in SEO anymore. Why not? Because they’re no longer effective!
When was the last time you saw a Hubpages site on page #1? It’s probably been a while. Google saw to that with Panda. Google directly penalized these types of sites, so why get a backlink from them?
Practical Strategies for Building Quality Back Links
Everyone who knows SEO understands just how important the practice of building quality back links is. However, for many it is also the most difficult and time-consuming component of search engine optimization. Not only is it important for you to build inbound links which come from the right kind of sites, you must also make sure that your link building strategy doesn't cause your site to be labeled as a spam site. If you’re wondering what is the most solid and effective strategy for building back links, the purpose of this article is to provide you with an approach which is practical, effective and easy to follow.
Choosing Only the Most Credible Sites
The first thing you'll need to do is search for credible sites to build incoming links from. Linking (outbound or inbound) to sites which have been labeled as spam sites can hurt the reputation of your site, while linking to sites which already have a good page rank is good for your reputation with the search engines. So the first thing you’ll need is a tool for determining the SEO stats of each website you look at. Tools such as seopen (for Firefox) and seaquake can be used to determine a site's page rank, keyword density, bounce rate and many other things. As you’re using these tools, be careful that you don’t link to sites which are listed as having a page rank of zero, as this means they've most likely been penalized by Google.
Another thing you can do to make sure you're not linking with the wrong sites is to type their domain name into Google, Yahoo or MSN. If they don’t come up, that means they’re not listed in the search engines, likely because they are brand new or have been removed from the results by the search engines themselves.
Where to Find Sites to Build Your Incoming Links
The first place to begin building quality back links is to submit your website to directories, starting with the largest and most credible: Yahoo directory, DMOZ and Google. Once this is done, you can refer to a tool like Planet Ocean’s “Ultimate Directory List” where you can find other credible places to submit your site. Some of these resources will charge you a small fee, while others will allow you to submit your site for free. When considering whether or not it's worth it to pay the fee, it’s important to remember the value of the time which you would spend acquiring these links on your own.
It’s also important to consider that free can have a very high price on the Internet. Any company that provides you with the service is going to need to recover their expenses in some way, and many of them do it through advertisements, many of which are “spammy” or are unrelated to the niche of your site. So submitting your site to a free directory could mean that you end up building links from sites which are going to hurt your site rather than help it. Considering this, it might actually be a more economical idea to pay the fee and submit your site to reputable directories.
How to Submit Your Site for Fast and Valuable Results
Be sure that in submitting your site you are as accurate as possible when choosing which category to submit it to. This will prevent delays in getting your site listed, and in the possibility of not having your site listed at all due to improper submission. Also, keep in mind that these directories (especially the free ones) might take some time in improving your submission, so be patient.
Another thing to be careful about is to make sure that the site directory provides a static link back to your site. This important because there are actually site directories which will filter your link through what is called a “redirected link “ for the purpose of tracking who clicked on your site. These redirected links have no value when it comes to boosting your search rank because the search engines don't see the connection between your URL and the “redirected link.”
Other Strategies for Finding Sites to Build Backlinks
In addition to submitting your sites to reputable directories, it's important for you to think out of the box in finding additional sites to contact who might agree to link to your site. Of course, there’s always the option of reciprocal linking, but too much reciprocal linking can do more harm to your site's page rank than it does good. As a good rule of thumb, try to keep your reciprocal links below 15% and make sure that you’re only using reciprocal linking as a method for attracting traffic to your site.
The following are a few “out of the box” methods for finding sites which might want to link to yours:
See who links to your competition
By using a tool like seopen or seaquake, you can analyze your competition's site and find out exactly which sites are linking to them. This will provide you with dozens of great ideas for sites which you yourself can request to link back to your site. As you’re doing this, you can also analyze the sites which your competition is linking with (inbound and outbound) and see who they are linking with as well.
Ask yourself where your site could add value
Are there businesses or professionals that are in the same industry as you, but not in direct competition with you? If so, there is a very good chance that their customers might benefit from the information and products which you provide on your site.
Using the Google search results and your tools like seopen or seaquake, you can find these sites contact their owners and offer to create content such as a article which they can post on their site to add value for their customers. Most of them who agree to do this will be happy to allow you to link back to your site somewhere in the content of the article.
Write and Submit Articles and Press Releases
Many sites exist which allow you to publish articles and press releases which other site owners can post on their sites, as long as they site owner links back to your site. This can prove to be a great viral method for building back links without you having to invest a lot of time.
Two things are important to remember as you are applying these link building strategies: first, be patient. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in SEO is expecting instant results. Second, build back links to more than just your home page. Linking to multiple pages on your site will help your link building to appear natural to the search engines. Good luck!