Building Links In a Post-Penguin World
Backlinks are a prime ranking signal used by search engines, but not all backlinks are beneficial. Google uses Penguin to devalue rankings of websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines, particularly those involved with link schemes. So, what is a link scheme and how do you avoid getting caught in the crossfire of Google’s cute-and-cuddly creature?
You can read Google’s official explanation of link schemes by visiting https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en, but here’s a short list of the most common schemes:
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank
- Exchanging goods or services for links
- Excessive link exchanges (note: when used sparingly, link exchanges are OK and shouldn’t have a negative impact on your site’s search rankings)
- Excessive article marketing
- Excessive guest blogging
- Using software, programs, scripts or other means of automation to generate backlinks (backlinks should be built naturally)
- Text advertisements that pass PageRank
- Over-optimized press releases
- Low-quality or mass-produced social bookmarking links
- Forum comments with optimized links
If you engage in one or more of the aforementioned link-building practices, you could be hit with a Penguin penalty. Granted, there’s no guarantee that you will receive a penalty, but most webmasters would prefer to err on the side of caution. Unless you’re willing to take the chance of having your website hit with a penalty, it’s best to play it safe and avoid the link-building practices mentioned above.
But with so many link-building practices prohibited by Google, how are you supposed to build links to your site? There’s no simple answer to this question, as link building takes time, patience, dedication and a clear strategy. However, the key thing to remember is that you want links to come naturally. Focusing on high-quality content will usually help you achieve this goal, as other websites tend to link back to sources of high-quality content.
If your website is ever hit with a Penguin penalty, you can always attempt to recover your lost rankings by using Google’s disavow tool. Located in the Webmaster Tools section, it allows you to tell Google which links you ignored. So if you have a significant number of spammy links, place them in the tool to have them disavowed.
Have you been by a Penguin penalty? Let us know in the comments section below