Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Link Building: It’s Not What it Used to Be by Scott Gombar

Link Building
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In my blog post about the 6 things to focus on as part of your internet marketing plan I talked about link building. This used to be as simple as adding as many links to as many resources as possible, no matter the quality of the site. It did not matter if the site was related to your site content. It did not matter if you spammed blogs with random, unrelated posts just to add your url to one more website. Today you have to be selective about who links back to your site. There can be severe ramifications for what Google determines to be spam, whether intentional or not. It’s not only important to ensure careful link building but also to check on those links from time to time to make sure they’re not hurting your search results. Fortunately there are tools that can help with managing your back links.

Six ways to build links back to your site.
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Wikipedia lists six methods of building links back to your sites. Some of these methods are no longer recommended as noted.
  1. Reciprocal Link-This is the act of placing a link on an associate or friends site and having them return the favor by placing a link back to your site. Google has stated that these types of links are no longer relevant as reciprocal links are not considered authoritative. In other words it does not truly indicate the popularity of the resource and therefore cannot be considered to be useful to someone searching for that item on the internet. It is important to note that you will not get penalized for this type of link building, but the search engines will not consider it when crawling the internet. Google does allow you to link up to 5 of your own sites. For example, I own and so I am able to link from one to the other without being penalized by Google. Again, it may not help your overall search results but if one of your sites receives significant traffic it could prove helpful to the other.
  2. Resource Link-When someone is developing content and adds a link back to your site as a source for further information, or as an authority on the matter this is called a resource link. Resource links are probably the most important type of link you can have. Google and other major search engines see this as someone else telling the world that you are the expert on the subject. Google has gone on record as stating Quantity and Relevancy of the link will count towards your site rating.
  3. Forum Signature Linking-This is as simple as it sounds. This is the act of including a link back to your site as part of your signature within a forum. Just make sure that the forum is related to the site you are linking back to or the search engines may see this as spamming.
  4. Blog Comments-Search engines tend to ignore links in Blog Comments because most blogs add a no-follow property to the link. So while adding your link to a blog comment is not very useful for search engines, writing quality comments may result on clicks from readers of your comments. Speaking as someone who frequently reads blog posts that interest me, if a comment appeals to me I will click through to the writers site.
  5. Directory Link Building-There are probably thousands of directories on the internet, but don’t waste your time adding your link to all of them. Many of them charge and will probably not help your search results. Two of the directories you will want to add to are and Note that Google shut their directory down about 2 years ago.
  6. Social Bookmarking is when someone adds your link to their list of social bookmarks. The major search engines take these links into consideration when crawling the web as this effects the popularity of the site in their eyes. The bookmarks are stored publicly and have anchor text making it easier for search engines to read them. Of course you should add your website URL to your social media profiles as well, especially if you have a large following but don’t rely on this to help your search engine results.
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Don’t do that
There are some things you will want to avoid, some of them mentioned in the six link types above. Matt Cutts (Google Chief Spam Engineer) has gone on record stating that spamming of any kind will negatively impact your search results. Updates to Google’s search algorithm combined with Google shutting down 2 link farms have proven that they are taking this very seriously.
  1. Commenting on blog posts for the sake of adding a link back to your website. I see this all the time (mostly on Yahoo pages) and they not only get ignored by people reading the article or blog post but search engines, especially Google, will punish the site you are trying to link back to. As a rule I almost never add a link back to my site when commenting on a blog. If the reader wants to find my site it really is not hard to do. If you have set up your website and social media profiles properly then anyone trying to get more information will have little trouble finding your site.
  2. Adding your site to all of those unheard of search engines, also known as submission sites. We have seen the advertising for getting your site on 100 search engines for $39. These search engines will hurt your search ranking as Google, Bing and Yahoo will most likely see them as spam.
  3. Link rings…avoid these. These are groups that offer to place reciprocal links on their sites if you do the same, or if you pay them. The links will be irrelevant and will hurt your ranking.
  4. Link Farms are sites that just have massive lists of links, often advertising themselves as submission sites or directory sites. Avoid these like the plagues as Google is actively searching them out and shutting them down.
How can I check my links?
Google offers a tool for free as part of their webmasters tool suite. The Disavow tool allows you to download all the links to your site, and then upload all the links you want to disavow. Google recommends this as a last result after trying to remove low quality or spammy links through all other methods first.

There are add-ons to browsers that you can use to check links as well. I have added SEOQuake to Chrome which allows me to see SEO statistics including links for any site I navigate to. This allows you to check your links and try to resolve bad links yourself before trying the disavow tool.
There are tons of other ways to checks using tools, toolbars and websites, many of which are free. If you use and SEO tools they likely have something similar built in to the tool.
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Courtesy of Business 2 Community

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