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Good Links Vs Bad Links: Keep your Link Building Strategy Effective & Safe

(Updated on July 13, 2017)

Most website owners who are engaged in their online website promotion would be familiar with the fact that having good incoming back-links to their website improves their ranking on search engines. Over the last decade, the definition of what is considered “good” has gradually changed. For example, it was assumed that if you have many backlinks, that have keyword-rich anchor text from high PageRank websites, it would surely work to your benefit. Unfortunately, today, if you have several of these keyword-rich anchor texts repeated across many sites, it may raise suspicions of artificial links creation – something Google does not like. Google may disregard all such links or discount them in their value calculations.Your site may not necessarily get penalized for having such back-links, but your investment in creating such back-links may become worthless. It is important to understand the methods of creating ‘good’ back-links to ensure that your investment is “future safe” and the back-links continue to add value to your website’s ranking potential.

Your site may not necessarily get penalized for having such back-links, but your investment in creating such back-links may become worthless. It is important to understand the methods of creating ‘good’ back-links to ensure that your investment is “future safe” and the back-links continue to add value to your website’s ranking potential. While most white-hat ‘genuine’ SEO experts and Google themselves have professed a method that stands the test of time even today, the latest Google Penguin algorithm update has made it mandatory to follow these good practices, if you intend to stay in the ranking competition.

Google implemented their penguin algorithm update between April and June 2012. The Penguin update was designed to deal with the menace of webspam, particularly targeting low-quality back-links. You can read a more detailed assessment of the Google Penguin algorithm update related to backlinks in my article. Google still considers backlinks as one of the most important ranking signals but has now become very stringent in the definition of what it considers a ‘good’ back-link. If I were to summarize what a ‘good’ back-link would look like, I would summarize it (in the shape of questions) as follows – 

  1. Does it seem like the website is giving you a 'natural' link? Did it do so without you soliciting it?
  2. Was the link created only with a view to offer value to its own website readers, disregarding any influence the link may have on search engines?
  3. Did you (if you had a role in creating the link) or the website owner even think of search engines while creating the link?
  4. Would he create the exact same link in the exact same format, if search engines did not exist?
  5. Does the link look natural?

The questions above may sound simple, but if you get down to evaluating what these lead to, it can get really complicated. If the link passes the above tests, search engines will reward your website for the link.

Here are some link evaluation tips that can help you in understanding what a good, natural link looks like, as against a spammy link, which can get you into trouble. Check out the following 5 examples of back-links –

Link-1

Search engine optimization services: get expert SEO services at affordable prices on monthly contracts. Guaranteed #1 page ranking on Google for selected relevant keywords for your business. Generate visibility in search engines like Google and qualified leads to increase your business.

Assumption:

The above links were exchanged with five websites, over two weeks with SEO industry (relevant) websites, placed at the bottom of their pr3 or pr4 pages ‘content-rich’ pages having only seven outgoing links. These websites are not competing in your business in the SEO industry. You ensured that the links had powerful keywords in the anchor text and that they did not have <nofollow> tags on it so that you could get full link juice. 

Link-2

Search engine optimization services: get expert SEO services at affordable prices on monthly contracts. Guaranteed #1 page ranking on Google for selected relevant keywords for your business. Generate visibility in search engines like Google and qualified leads to increase your business.

Assumption:

The above one-way links were created over two weeks in five SEO industry (relevant) websites, from their indexed pages not having a high PageRank. However, you ensured that the links had powerful keywords in the anchor text (you got 3 anchors this time) and that they did not have <nofollow> tags on it so that you could get full link juice.

Link-3

Search engine optimization services: get expert SEO services from RedAlkemi at affordable prices on monthly contracts. Guaranteed #1 page ranking on Google for selected relevant keywords for your business. Generate visibility in search engines like Google and qualified leads to increase your business.

Assumption: 

The above one-way link was created in only three popular e-commerce websites, from their high pr6 page. The link did not have <nofollow> tag on it. You really worked hard in getting these high-PR links. Unfortunately, the guy linked your website with your site name but not with your keywords.

Link-4

Search engine optimization services: get expert SEO services from www.redalkemi.com at affordable prices on monthly contracts. Guaranteed #1 page ranking on Google for selected relevant keywords for your business. Generate visibility in search engines like Google and qualified leads to increase your business.

Assumption: 

The above one-way link was created in only one very popular SEO industry website, in the middle of an article about website optimization. The page was not even indexed in Google yet so obviously, it did not have any PageRank. The link did not have <nofollow> tag on it but since the page was not indexed, or there we no other external links on the page, did it really matter? Also, there were no useful keywords in the anchor text of the link.

Link-5

Search engine optimization services: get expert SEO services at affordable prices on monthly contracts. Guaranteed #1 page ranking on Google for selected relevant keywords for your business. Generate visibility in search engines like Google and qualified leads to increase your business. 

Assumption: 

The above link was created in one coveted ‘authority’ SEO industry website, from the middle of an article about website evaluation. The page had a high PageRank of 6 and there were no other external links. Unfortunately, the site placed a <nofollow> tag on the link, ruling out any pr pass-through. It did not even link to your site using any useful keywords in the anchor text of the link. The link seems like quite a waste.

How would you evaluate these links? Which ones do you think are powerful and would work best for your website? Which ones of these would you choose for your website’s promotional campaign? Which links look naturally created? Which ones do you think will be frowned upon by Google?

Here is my evaluation -

Link-1 evaluation:  

Link was exchanged (bad), link creation was fast paced (bad), identical link was created over multiple websites - this sets a pattern (bad), link was placed in the footer (bad), multiple outgoing links from the links page to irrelevant websites (bad), high competition keywords in anchor text, looks doctored (bad), multiple anchor text links to your site from same page, unnatural (bad). PageRank of the links page is really irrelevant as the link will be considered spam and disregarded by Google.   

Link-2 evaluation: 

Although not exchanged, the links were created at a fast pace (bad) across multiple websites. Identical link text sets a pattern (bad), high competition keywords in anchor text - looks doctored (bad), multiple anchor text links to your site from the same page, unnatural (bad). PageRank or no PageRank, the link will be considered spam and disregarded by Google.

Link-3 evaluation:

Although not exchanged, the links were created at a fast pace (bad) across multiple websites - this sets a pattern (bad). Worse, the link websites were from irrelevant industries (bad). Although the anchor text promoted your brand instead of the keywords (which is good), the links will not help and most likely be considered a spam by Google. As such, the high PageRank of the link page may be useless.

Link-4 evaluation:

Link is from only one website (good), not exchanged (good), from the middle of the content (good), from a popular “industry” website (good), link to your website as an exposed (naked)  URL – looks natural (good). There were no more outgoing links on the page (good). The link seems natural (good). Link page indexing does not matter since the site is “popular”, the page will get indexed in a matter of days. The value of PR (even if not existing) will be passed on to your website since there is no <nofollow> tag on the link (good). Just so you know, when a page is indexed in Google, its PR value of the page is about 0.85 even though the Google toolbar shows it as 0. This is probably the best link amongst the given examples.

Link-5 evaluation:

Link is from only one website (good), not exchanged (good), from the middle of the content (good), from a coveted “authority” website (very good), linked through “junk” keyword – this looks natural (good). There were no more outgoing links on the page (good). Overall, the link seems natural (good). Link passes click-through visitor traffic to your site (good). User behavior of click-through will be rewarded to your website (good). The industry relevance and LSI value benefit of the link will be passed through to your website by Google (good). The PR value will not be passed through due to <nofollow> tag on the link (bad). This is probably the second-best link amongst the given examples.

Going by the above evaluation, it is evident that there is more to the link building process than meets the casual eye. Keep your mind open and your thoughts fresh. Do not blindly follow what any “SEO expert” recommends. Make your own judgments. If you follow the good aspects highlighted in the evaluation, your backlink profile will look natural, be healthy, work effectively and remain safe from any possible penalties.

If you need help in your link building campaigns, which are Google Penguin compliant, please contact www.redalkemi.com

RedAlkemi was created out of the desire to deliver measurable online success to its customer base. The founders consider themselves the alchemists who work with passion (Red) to develop processes (Alkemi) that turn a basic digital presence to a measurable and successful one, therefore the name RedAlkemi.

Yes, it’s possible! Motivated by innovation, RedAlkemists believe they can help take your business to the next level. In an ever-evolving online environment, our vision is to keep “Shaping a holistic digital presence for businesses through innovative processes.”

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Leave a Comment
4 Comments:
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