How Organic are Your Links?
Search engines are a constant work in progress as they are continually tweaked and improved in order to make them more effective tools. Beginning as simple indexes that used meta tags added to content that told the search engine how to place pages, they have evolved into sophisticated mechanisms that get better at impartially examining and rating the information that it finds on websites. Of course, as with any systematic and automated method, it is possible to trick the search engines into seeing content as being more valuable than it actually is. One indicator of the value of web content is how many other sites have linked to it, so as a ploy for artificially raising a website’s page rank, it became a common practice to buy links to your website.
An online industry developed from this, with SEO agencies guaranteeing that they could get websites top ranking in the SERPs, which, over time, had a deleterious effect on the quality of the content that was returned by the search engines. To counter this, the search engines began to examine the keyword use, and the number of links and their sources in webpages. In both of their last two major search algorithm changes1, Google has targeted links. To help, on their Webmaster blog, they have given very definite guidelines for what sort of link use is and is not acceptable2. The advice from Google is to create organic links and to avoid unnatural links at all costs2.
The links that are seen as being unnatural are the ones that have been purchased or randomly swapped with other link building websites. These link schemes often use websites that are nothing but pages of links and have little or no useful information for human visitors3. They also usually point to spam-type webpages of sales copy that don’t provide any information either. In order to keep these web-spam pages out of their SERPs, the search engines have begun to penalize websites that use them to artificially raise their page rank. In recent months this has been the most common cause of websites dropping out of the SERPs, often falling eight or ten pages in a single day. Not all of these websites have been part of a link scheme; some only look like they have. There are a couple of simple things that you can do to make sure that you aren’t mistakenly penalized for using unnatural links.
If you have ever used an Internet marketing agency that has included a link building strategy to raise your page rank, you will now want to see where those links point. It is best if your links are all from real pages but if they are from link farms, you will need to delete them. There are several tools that can examine your links, like Open Site Explorer, that will give you a limited rundown on your link quality for free and a full analysis for a small fee. The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide4 also has some simple rules for webmasters to follow to make sure that they have full control over the links that they do decide to use. There are also some valuable tips for producing Google-friendly sites on the Google Webmaster blog5.
It would be easy to think that it is now better to avoid links altogether, but they are still a vital part of SEO and it is only necessary to be more discerning about whose links you are willing to use. A good balance of inward and outward pointing links is the most desirable arrangement and Infintech Designs can help you to develop good page ranking for your website using natural links that will deliver lasting benefits.