Be VERY Careful with Link Building

link building strategyBuilding a good website with good content is the most important thing that you can do. Building content however, does not mean that people will come to your website and be able to find you on Google or other engines. SEO is a set of things you can do to help Google like your website better and to make it easier for you to be listed higher in the search listings. Making your site search engine friendly isn’t going to be enough on it’s own.

There are probably thousands of websites around your business/niche that you are competing with. Google’s goal is to get the best one at the top of the list. To get the best sites listed on the first page Google has to use an algorithm to figure out what is a good site and what is bad. Over time Google tweaks this algorithm (which it keeps secret) and makes changes to the search results based on the new calculations. There are a lot of things that go into SEO but today I want to talk about link building.

Links to your website

One of the things that matters a lot in how well you rank is the links pointing to your website. Each link is not created the same but there are some things that they take into consideration.

  • Who (what site) is linking to you (and how “important” that site is to google)
  • The number of links you have pointing to you
  • The words (keywords) that are used to link to you (“Important words” vs. “click here”)
  • The context of the sentences around the links
  • nofollow vs. dofollow links

Getting good links

Recently (over the last year or so), Google has made some HUGE changes in it’s search algorithms. It is constantly tweaking and changing it but I wanted to share the personal experience of a good friend of mine about the value of getting good links (and a warning of getting bad ones.) I have a friend who is an executive at a company. A few weeks ago he called me and started asking me about SEO and the rankings of his website. What prompted the call was that his companies websites had all suddenly taken a dive in Google and they were losing money. The same day his rankings tanked, he received a notice in Google’s Webmaster Tool that they had unnatural links (I don’t remember the exact wording).

They didn’t know what this meant so they fixed some links on their site (301 redirects and things) and resubmitted to Google. They received the same response a week later. They did this a few times but with no luck. Finally, he received a response from an actual person who worked at Google who sent 3 links over with “These are the kinds of links we are talking about.” The links were all forum profiles with 3 random links to 3 different sites with the appropriate keywords in them. These links had been created by a 3rd party company they had hired to help their site rank better. Google obviously knows this is unnatural (who would every say something like “Cool Chairs Awesome Jewelry Hair Cuts” and link to three different sites? These are Inorganic links, and apparently inorganic links to your website can actually hurt your search engine rankings by getting you penalized.

Fixing the issues

After understanding the problem my friend went back to the SEO company they had hired and started to ask some questions. They had been using this technique for a few years and had created 5000+ inorganic links. They said it would take a long time to fix. He told them to get it fixed but in the meantime started emailing some of the website owners to ask if they would remove those links/profiles. It turned out that most of them had been hacked and didn’t know those profiles even existed.

Now I don’t know if the company actually did the hacking but they definitely took advantage of security holes to create those links and this cost my friends company real dollars (lots and lots of real dollars) and time. In the end they were able to get enough of the links removed and resubmit to Google and get back where they were in the search results. Luckily they had other links that pointed to them so they did have organic links to leave in place. Had all of their links been from this type of link building that would have left them with nothing.

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