Google made some huge changes to its algorithm back in 2011, the first aiming and targeting spamming/scraping sites, followed by the larger Panda update targeting low quality sites. Google even penalized big players, as well – Overstock.com, LCPenney and Forbes were all hit for “shady” backlinking practices.
What does this mean for link building? Well, forget about low quality link building altogether. Seriously.
“But My Competition Is Doing it” Isn’t an Excuse
If you’re a link builder this may take some time to digest, especially if you’re researching your competition for a particular keyword and see that they’re dominating due to their 20,000 spam links.
There are a couple of things you have to step back and consider when face to face with low quality, high volume links when doing an analysis:
- The links may not be the reason the competitor is where they are today. Maybe they have a strong enough brand and a good reputation that ranks them highly for a particular keyword.
- If the first point doesn’t apply, then it’s literally a matter of time before Google decides to launch a lightning bolt from the heavens, giving no weight to their spammy backlinks. It will happen.
Let’s be honest here. Do you want to be that SEO company that drops on the ball on the next LCPenney or Overstock off-page strategy?
Defining a Valuable Backlink Opportunity
How do you determine the value of a potential link on a site? Google has its own criteria to define a low-quality site, but here are a few “warning signs” that illustrate it:
- Does the website have lots of ads? If the site is “ad rich” with leaderboards and text links everywhere, even advertising chunks, these guys best to be avoided.
- Lack of quality content. If you’re posting an article and it gets immediate approval, this likely isn’t the ideal article network for your needs. A lot of article networks approve spun and/or poorly written content, and even though you may create an amazing original article, Google’s algorithm likely won’t see your “diamond in the rough.”
- Content rich, low traffic. A blog with a Google PageRank of 6 may sound like an awesome spot to spam a comment. However, it’s important to keep site authority in mind. If the site doesn’t have a lot of good traffic and social sharing, it may be flagged as a potential site to be de-valued by Google in the future. When Panda was on a rampage, PageRank didn’t shield anyone. A lot of sites, including some with PageRank 7+ were hit. Even PR 9.
- Does the site have moderation? This is somewhat related to the above, but this is mainly directed at blog commenting and directories. If there are visible spam links throughout a page, don’t put yours next to it. Unless you’re trying to promote a spammy link, then go for it!
What You Need To Do
So, enough of the negatives. What should you be focusing on? Well, surprise surprise – content!
Nine in ten organizations are using blogs, infographics, whitepapers, webinars, and other forms of high quality content to create leverage for link building aimed at attracting natural, organic links. This content doesn’t have to just be about building links, either. You can use it to build leads by proving that the business knows what they’re talking about when it comes to their industry.
Have You Changed The Way You Link Build?
With all the Panda attacks, news, algorithm changes and penalties, have you begun to shift your link building strategy? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below!