After Google’s Penguin and Panda updates in 2012 changed the way SEOs address link building, more care has to go towards getting the right links rather than a lot of links. It used to be that SEOs could just throw caution to the wind and duplicate content with directories and link farms, but that is now a sure fire way to get penalized by Google’s constantly improving algorithm.
Guest posting has quickly become a favorite among SEOs to build quality backlinks, but even this means of link building has become inundated with spam.
Good webmasters are selective about the type of content that gets featured and linked to from their site, and SEOs need to have the same mindset going forward with their SEO endeavors. Having millions of backlinks doesn’t matter anymore, and is detrimental because if they’re spammy links the target site will get penalized.
Every site that gets targeted for a link should pass the “smell test” (as we call it at Page One Power) which helps to weed out less than desirable sites when link building.
- Gud Enlish: If the text looks anything like that then you have a big clue that the site is spam. Bot spun articles or articles written my non-native speakers will read terribly. Don’t be fooled by the look of the site. Take the time to read some posts and see if a person actually sat down and typed it out.
- Contact Us Page or About Page: Every legitimate website will have a way to contact a human being, while most spam sites will not. Phone numbers and emails are your best bet to talk to person and are good indicators that the site is worthy of your efforts.
- Domain Authority. If you haven’t installed Mozbar from SEOmoz , do so now. This handy tool in invaluable for SEOs and gives you a host of information. Knowing the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Rank are important to seeing how much link juice you’ll get from a site. Low DA’s are often a sign of a poorly maintained site or a brand new site and should be avoided.
- Community: It takes a town to raise a child (or so I’m told), and the same is true with a website. Look for signs of community interaction like blog comments, social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (becoming more important for SEO by the day) to gauge how healthy the sites community is.
After staying away from spam sites, this might be the most important aspect of link building. Getting a link on a 95 DA site is great, but not if you’re linking to cat beds from NASA. It doesn’t make any sense! Google needs to be able to see a correlation between the linking sites in order for it to be a truly great link. Keywords, anchor text, and the sites content should all reflect one one another.
Anyone who’s ever had a police cruiser follow them knows how to act natural behind the wheel, and you should treat Google’s algorithm the same way you treat a Ford Crown Victoria. The algorithm is designed to give searchers an unbiased view of the web when they type in keywords. SEO manipulates the SERPs so of course Google is taking a hard stance against it.
The best way to stay under the algorithms spam fighting radar is to act natural, or at least act as Google’s definition of “natural.” This means staying away from anything remotely resembling black hat SEO, having a healthy number of nofollows, having a diverse – yet relevant – amount of sites link towards the target site, and producing great content.
Don’t Ignore New or Small Sites
Just because a site has a low DA or PR doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to get a link. While these can be determining factors for spam sites, new sites or sites with a small footprint have low numbers and often get overlooked by SEOs who think they aren’t worth it. But if the site is relevant and has good content there is no reason why you shouldn’t try to get a link on the site.
Leave the link farms, article directories (unless relevant), and other black hat techniques beside. Stop worrying about how many links you’re getting and start worrying about the quality of each link. What techniques have you used to build links in the post Penguin and Panda era?