There has been a lot of information out in the industry about links in recent months. I have read a number of studies and articles about types and categories of links and what works and doesn’t. For those of you who are new to this, once you have your content laid out, links are the primary factor that Google uses to measure how strong your site or page is and whether it is going to rank highly. Because of this, people have tried to cheat the system since day 1 with link building practices, to different levels of success.
Google is Always Getting Smarter
Though it seems like Google knows everything, to the point of being creepy sometimes, they have been adjusting the algorithm for years to try to account for bad link building practices. However, to this day, we still see scammy tactics being used. It seems that each algorithm adjustment takes another swipe at bad links, but there are always some that seem to get by with sketchy tactics. It always seems to be your competitor too, doesn’t it.
What Always Works
Links are an online version of relationships or referrals. This is why Google gives them value. If another website is willing to send visitors to your site, that is a vote in your favor, so the more votes you have in your favor, the stronger Google views your site. Taking your real offline relationships and making them exist online will always work. If you are a member of a chamber or organization, supported a cause, or sent out a press release, these will always help.
It Was About Numbers
In the early days it seemed to be all about numbers and we would see tactics to get into thousands of directories, and spam comments on blog posts, article spinning and many other tactics people would do just to build up the numbers. Then Google got better at figuring out these “false” relationships.
A Referral From A Friend Means More
Certain referrals mean more than others. Certain links mean more than others. There are measuring tools like Domain authority and trust scores by different tools. Just like you would trust a referral more from a trusted friend than from someone you randomly met at the bus stop, Google gives more credit to a link from a more relevant or highly trusted website than from just any random directory that nobody visits. If you get links from high-quality sites and/or lower strength sites that are highly relevant and you know are true organizations or charities, you will be fine.
Stick With What You Know and Love
If a site is well known and has a great reputation or it is a smaller organization that you know is real and on the up and up, you can’t go wrong. Your link profile should have a mix of powerful links like hr.com and huffingtonpost.com (You may not respect some of their content, but the domains are strong and known), and smaller, more relevant sites to your location or your industry. These come naturally from doing business and being active in your computer. Are you a member of your industry association and have a link from their site. Is your business active in the community and sponsors a 5K or some charity that includes you as a link? Are you a member of the Chamber of Commerce and included as a link? These are all lesser strength sites, but you know they are real organizations and they are highly relevant to what you do. Stick with what you know. If your links are from doing business or being active, or you get an editorial link from a high strength site because they write content about what you do, these all work.
If You Aren’t Sure or it Seems Sketchy, It Probably is
I recently read an article that I can’t find now about businesses still using antiquated cheating methods like we mentioned above. Building cheap fake sites to link to another site, joining pointless “link farm” directories that have no actual value, spinning articles, buying comment links, etc. Stick with entities that matter from sites you know are real and you will do fine. It may be a little harder and take more time, but it will pay off in the end. You won’t have to worry that that next algorithm adjustment will knock you off the rankings and all of your traffic with it.
Hire a Responsible Pro
With links being so important to search engine success, work with someone with over 10 years of experience building link relationships and opportunities for you to take advantage of. This will let you focus on your own business while we bring the traffic in that keeps you busy. Give us a call.
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