Building Links? 5 Truths You Need to Remember
As a digital PR agency, one of our various tasks is to develop a strong backlink profile for our clients. We all know that inbound links are not bad per se and we have all read countless articles about the best link-building strategies – why links still matter, how to Penguin-proof sites, how to avoid being manually penalized etc.
However, the vast majority of these articles fail to address one important strategic issue: link building. Adding even one, single backlink can be risky and there simply isn’t any easy way to prevent your site from being penalized by Google.
You Can’t Always Distinguish Editorial Links
Unless a link was built in an extremely poor and obvious way, it is impossible for humans and search engines to tell whether a link is editorial or not. Many links that we think are paid turn out to be editorially given and others that we think to be editorial, were paid.
Sometimes there can be telling clues that indicate whether a link was paid for, such as if its named a “sponsored post”, or “paid content” or “advertorial”, however in the majority of cases it is quite impossible to tell.
There Are No Risk-Free Links
Many types of links that have previously been acceptable, have ended up being written into Google’s guidelines as a linking scheme or other penalty-inducing violation. For instance, theoretically a no-follow link should be risk-free, but having a profile full of no-follow links would definitely look strange to Google. Why wouldn’t it penalise the site in that case?
Any Site Can Be Affected by Link Issues
Both small and large sites can be affected by link issues. Google has penalised big brands as well as tiny sites for their bad link-building practices.
To make things even more difficult, if you avoid the troublesome link-arena altogether and build no links for your site – it probably won’t do at all well. If you are open to link-building, you’re open to trouble as well, no matter how careful you are.
Link Builders Are Not the Only Ones to Blame
Most link builders have understood that offering great content, that is compelling and relevant to the site’s audience is key in order to seduce a webmaster to add a link back to their site. However, there are still some that continue to half-heartedly offer low quality content or articles that are uninteresting to the site’s target audience.
But webmasters are just as bad. In fact, many of them are only willing to put up a link for cash, no matter how great and original the content is, or how much they love the brand.
You Can Be Unfairly Penalised Manually or Algorithmically
If people link to your site on a lot in forums, to the extent that those links constitute the bulk of your link profile, then you need to be ready to face the consequences. It is better to stay clear for forum linking and generally discourage it as it is just far too risky as Google is on high-alert to detect mass forum linking. Even when you have had nothing to do with the links being published you will still face the penalty – not at all fair, but just the way it goes!
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