Sifting the Wheat from the Chaff in Link Building
Link building is one of the search engine optimisation practices that have survived the test of time. When done right through what is known as white hat strategies, this practice has can propel your site to the stratosphere in terms of ranking. However, due to its potency, this practice has been exploited by black hat experts who exploit loopholes in search engine algorithms to push their websites up the ladder in leaps they do not deserve.
Understanding White Hat and Black Hat Link Building Strategies
The link building practice is divided into two major hemispheres; the white hat and the black hat. White hat strategies are usually low risk to execute and fall well within the guidelines laid out by search engines. Using white hat link building strategies exposes you to minimal if any chances of being penalised. Some of the white hat tactics include:
- Creating your own insightful, unique and quality content
- Building an engaged community where the members interact with each other as well as with your website.
- Promoting your website to the relevant audience in a personalised way instead of putting them in one basket.
White hat practices can help you build long term assets and create a strong framework for the future.
Black hat strategies on the other hand are aimed at exploiting and violating search engine guidelines in an attempt to give you a quick solution to your ranking problems. Some of these tactics include:
- Displaying different content to search engines and your audience; this is known as cloaking.
- Exploiting security flaws in websites and using the opportunity to inject hidden links.
- Hiding keyword-stuffed content on web pages to be shown only to search engines so that you can rank highly.
These tactics are strictly short term and can cause your site to drop in ranking overnight and lose whatever credibility you had built if any.
If you are investing in a business online, chances are you want to compete for the long term. This means your choice of link building strategies should be based on ethical practices that add value online and enhance your customers’ experience.
The good thing with white hat link building practices is that they are less risky and yield more in the long term. You don’t need to be worried every time there is a Google update or rumours of one in the air.
Is the Practice of Buying Links Worthwhile
Generally, Google’s webmaster guidelines are against buying of links. Link buying may take the form of exchanging money for links, exchanging goods or services for links, or offering a free product to someone in exchange for a short write up about it that includes a link.
The reason why Google is very particular about buying of links is because it cares about its users and doesn’t want to expose them to manipulated search results courtesy of these links. Google is after fair play where every business ranks in a particular position or page because it deserves to.
Buying advertising that links to your website is a great practice because it helps you build awareness for your business. However, Google is categorical in this and states that the advertisement should not pass PageRank to your site. To do this, you should:
- Add a nofollow attribute to the concerned link
- Go through a re-directed page which is blocked in robots.txt
This simply means that advertisements will not impact how much page rank your website receives and hence will not affect its performance in organic search ranking. The long and short of it is that buying links is risky and may not be worthy it.
Identifying Sources and Characteristics of Bad Links
Before Google’s eyes, a link can either be good or bad and therefore be spared or attract a penalty. The following are some of the sources of bad links that you need to watch out for:
- Links originating from questionable or low authority websites – Sites with a poor reputation can harm your organic search visibility if their links point to your site.
- Links from irrelevant content – It is not enough that you source links from reputable sites, but the context should also tally with where the link is pointing.
- Many links from one source pointing to your site – This may be flagged by Google as suspicious. Instead, capitalise on different links from multiple sources.
- Reciprocal link exchange – Inasmuch as it seems a clever idea to exchange links with an aim of booting each other site, Google can spot this scheme and penalise you for it.
- Links from keyword-matched anchor text – During the era of keyword-focused optimisation, it was the norm to embed your link in anchor text using the exact keyword phrase you want to rank for. Today, this can land you a manual penalty which may be difficult to recover from.
You can read more about link building here and the importance of doing it correctly. We have found so many new SEO clients that have bad seo companies do such a poor job we have spent month’s disavowing the links before we can begin the correct way. Be aware there are many so-called seo comapnies that simply do not have a clue.
To benefit from link building as an SEO practice, you need to combine it with content development and promotion so that the links you attract are natural. If you still want manual link building, you need to tread carefully.