January 31, 2018

Link Building

Relevant links from high quality sites have long been a staple in any search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. However, the linking landscape has evolved and recent updates to Google’s algorithms including the much-publicised Penguin 2.0 have actively penalised the grey and black hat techniques employed by so many firms over the past few years.

Link evaluation lies deep within Google’s DNA. From its inception as a library indexing technology and early iterations as “backrub”, Google has placed considerable emphasis on relevant linking. 10 years ago, the SEO industry was focusing upon the creation of links through reciprocal “let’s link to each other” strategies, article submission, directory entries and so forth.

As the digital industry evolved, endless link schemes where devised in an attempt to generate revenues and deliver high volumes of links to clients. Needless to say, the vast majority of these links were worthless, simply serving to pollute the digital airwaves and to compromise results quality.

Google’s webspam team and its counterparts in other search engines have been working to eradicate link spam, looking instead for sites that are attracting links through the intrinsic value of their content and proposition. Such a meritocracy may seem a utopian view to the average business owner and yet can be achieved with some professional support.

The post-Penguin link landscape

Gone are the days where buying links, low value blog networks, re-spun content networks and a host of other questionable techniques have any value. In today’s environment, they can easily have a counter-productive effect on a site’s rankings. If anyone proposes building a high number of monthly links to your site, there is only one possible response. Run away. Fast.

So there are lots of don’t-s. What about the do-s? Google continues to reward sites which are deemed to be authoritative in their respective sectors. Clearly not everyone can become the BBC. However, with the creation and promotion of relevant content and the careful building of relevant links from decent sites, much can still be achieved. The team at SEO Perspective can work with you to ensure the provision of suitable on-site content and, in some cases, the ethical addition of suitable links.

Link anchor balance

For 10 years, Google’s approach to linking encouraged the creation of large numbers of links with the same or remarkably similar anchor text (the text appearing in the link itself). SEO firms and clients alike built links using their target search keywords.

Today, excessive numbers of links with the same keyword, all pointing to the same page, are largely a negative. We can work with you to ensure that links to your site are as natural as possible a mixture of keywords, your domain name, specific page addresses (URLs) and a combination thereof.

Link source balance and network avoidance

One of the greatest issues with most linking “solutions” is that they tend to use the same network of “tame” link partners or a finite set of “outreachers” who have relationships with blogs and other site owners. This creates a “network” effect where the same set of sites, albeit large, links to the clients of these link providers.

Google really doesn’t like networks and with good reason: they have a poor history. Some were link networks created to manipulate the search results; others included enormous made-for-AdSense style networks and exact match domain (EMD) networks with template sites and thin content designed to exploit Google’s (now reduced) sensitivity to keywords contained in the domain name.

The SEO Perspective team can work with you to ensure your link equity comprises ethical blogs, complimentary sites and other relevant locations, specifically avoiding any form of network effect.

Linking has evolved, not died

Linking in today’s climate must thus be handled with great care but remains a valid element in many SEO strategies. Whilst there is little doubt that the majority of natural search SEO budget should focus upon the provision of the best possible content, properly managed guest blogging, for example, is a perfectly valid mechanism for building a modest number of relevant links.

Guest blogging, writing content specifically for a third party with a link included (usually as some form of attribution), remains accepted practice. The sites on which the content is placed must be relevant, free from spam and of genuine value to their readership. The content provided in return for the link must contribute to that value. Low quality, generic or “thin” pieces will not suffice. The content must reflect your specific industry knowledge and the link must be justifiably and appropriately included.

Other key elements of a linking strategy will often include social and video-driven link building. With increasing value attributable to social media mentions, Facebook, Twitter and others all have a role to play. Our SEO team can work with you in devising a multi-channel strategy in order to leverage these opportunities.

Link housekeeping

Many of our clients have worked with a range of providers over the years. Some of these may have created links that fall foul of today’s best practice guidelines. Recognising this to be an issue, Google has provided a “disavow” tool which allows site owners to list the links with which they no longer wish to be associated.

SEO Perspective can take an inventory of your current links, categorise them and take appropriate action, requesting the removal of any that appear to fall foul of guidelines and “disavowing” any where the site owners are unreachable or refuse to co-operate in their removal.

With your portfolio of links suitably refined, it may then prove to be appropriate to carefully work to further improve your link profile.

Ultimately, the guiding principle is a simple one. Could you stand in front of Google’s webspam team and justify your actions and the links thus acquired? We will work with you to ensure that the answer to this is a resounding “yes”.

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