I recently noticed that Google has added some more rules to their Link Schemes page, so I thought I’d alert others and break down what I see that’s new. While I’m happy to see some more clarity in what not to do link building-wise, there are still a lot of unclear tactics left off the menu.
I can tell you from experience that not a whole lot of people have read this page, and as someone who does inbound marketing, you should. Google’s updates this year have thrown a lot of people for a loop, especially when it comes to building/attracting/buying/stealing links to your website. While I think a lot of it still has to do with anchor text ratios and not so much link types (yet), why bother building junk when you can attract gold?
Ok, So What’s New?
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
I may be wrong on this one, but there seems to be some new words added to this paragraph this time around, mainly the part about sending someone a “free” product in exchange for a link. Sending a product to the biggest bloggers in your vertical so they can give an honest review is a great way to get feedback on your goods. While you may get a link in your review, you should certainly be getting social media signals, pictures and hopefully video content from the reviewer. Google shouldn’t have any say in this form of marketing as it’s completely natural to me. I’d just make sure you don’t have the reviewer give you any special anchor text other than “view website/site/brand name” etc.
Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
This was a much-needed addition, as there are SO many people using automated scripts and tools to mass create links. You know the usual suspects like Xrumer, SENuke and Scrapebox. 99% of the “SEO Services” you find on webmaster forums are usually done with some sort of software and it’s ALWAYS spam. Even SENuke.com may need to change some of the copy on their website after seeing this one.
Questionable, to say the least…
Links that are inserted into articles with little coherence, for example: most people sleep at night. you can buy cheap blankets at shops. a blanket keeps you warm at night. you can also buy a wholesale heater. It produces more warmth and you can just turn it off in summer when you are going on france vacation.
This is fairly obvious and I imagine their AI can detect this kind of stuff by now… Well, at least in a timely manner. I wish I could properly do a study to see how many “robot made” articles have been published on open article sites and web 2.0 properties. If you run a forum or UGC-based site, you more than likely deal with this crap on a daily basis. For those still utilizing something like this in their strategy, it’s going to be a wild ride if your income relies on this method. While it may boost your rankings for a while, I’d certainly not want tens of thousands of “un-cleanable” links out in the wild.
Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
This is a another obvious hit on the list, although notice the choice word of “low-quality”; this still leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I know a lot of folks don’t like the idea of Google determining what is not of the utmost quality, but it’s their search engine so some sort of line has to be drawn.
We on occasion will recommend some directories for clients, it all just depends on the situation. There are a lot of city/location-based directories that are useful for the traffic, never mind the link. Let’s say, for example, that I’m a local car dealership – there are going to be options for links that are vertical-specific, and which also provide more value than just a link. A perfect example being Dealerrater.com, which provides real user reviews for each specific dealer.
As for social bookmarking, just stick to the most active sites by creating worthy content. There are tons and tons of bookmark sites made with Plugg or Scuttle, and that’s what you have to steer clear of. What’s the point of trying to keep thousands of ultra low quality pages indexed for a lousy link? Putting your time and effort into, say, good content and Reddit, would pay off to a much greater degree.
Redbull is a corporation that does a bang up job creating content, and they have a hot link on Reddit daily, most often multiple times! The end goal is to draw more “fans” into their brand and this is when you start experiencing the life beyond Google’s organic search traffic.
Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example:
Visitors to this page: 1,472
I like to usually follow three rules when someone wants to utilize widgets as part of their link strategy. The first being that you should create something unique and useful, and not another loan calculator or phony badge. Second, you should most likely slap a nofollow tag on that link. Lastly, do not use a “money anchor text” for your link, just stick to a site/brand name link.
Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites
I’ve heard a lot of people come into trouble with themes for the likes of WordPress and Joomla. The problem here being a money anchor text as the link in the footer, and this is a clear manipulation of Google’s algorithm. If you’re a theme developer then I don’t see any problems coming from a tactic like this, just stick to nofollow and the site/brand link again. There’s nothing wrong with providing something awesome for free and getting something in return. If you’re not a web designer, I’d steer clear of developing a theme just for the footer links… There are better things you can do with your time and money.
Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:
Thanks, that’s great info!
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The easiest targets out there are forums and blogs, because the platforms are almost all the same, and they’re easily exploited via AI. Forums are great for marketing, but the last thing to worry about is a link! There are better ways of getting legit forum ROI by being a part of the community openly. Any large forums in your niche also have advertising options, so don’t waste your time trying to blast links on forums. This makes your business look bad, and it creates a giant mess you’ll eventually have to clean up… Assuming Google does come out with that link ignore feature.
Creating Amazing Content is Truly Worth It in the Long Run
I’m perhaps sounding like a Google fan boy right now, but if you want to play ball and get that free traffic, you might as well play by most of the rules.
The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community.
It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links.
It all comes down to you wanting to continue that traffic flow, which hopefully is converting into sales. I think the worst part is that if you do get to the top 10 by spamming, you’ll have 9 other people analyzing your links and looking for a reason to report you. So, continue focusing on doing the things that make you stand out from all the rest; this is where you’ll find success in the long run.