Search engine optimization is a big popularity contest. Search engine algorithms rank web pages based on numerous factors. One is the frequency and relevancy of keywords on a web page, known as on-page SEO. More important, however, is off-page SEO – the links from other websites back to yours.
In order for search engines to determine how website pages should be ranked, they take into consideration two major factors:
- The quantity of links that point that page and site
- The quality of links that point to that page and site
The Value of a Link
The value of a link serves two major benefits:
- To a search engine, inbound links increase the authority and trustworthiness of a web page and site.
- Links help search engines connect the relevancy of a page with specific keywords based on the keywords that are used in a link’s anchor text, the clickable text on a hyperlink.
The Wrong Way to Build Links
The reason why search engines counted the quantity and quality of backlinks to a webpage was an attempt to return only those pages that provided valuable and trustworthy content to their users in their search engine results. Unfortunately, this provided opportunities for scandalous search engine optimizers to game the system and find easier, quicker ways to build massive quantities of links back to webpages.
Here a few of the sneaky link-building tactics some sites employed, and how search engines developed algorithmic changes to combat it.
The intent of a directory is to organize the Internet into different categories and subcategories, while providing links to good websites in those categories. Although there are legitimate directory websites, many were built solely for the purpose of building links back to webpages without consideration of link quality.
How Search Engines Fixed It
Search engines (especially Google) have started removing free directories from their index. This means that the links gained from those directories are no longer counted towards a website’s overall ranking!
Paid links are like paying someone to be your wingman to impress a girl rather than having a genuine friend by your side who can vouch for how great you really are! Paid links may include a larger network of link buyers and sellers usually involving a link network or a group of low-quality sites that link to a specific webpage to increase the authority of a website. Other times, there may be a reciprocal linking program, where a group of websites link to one another.
How the Search Engines Fixed It
Paid links go against search engine guidelines, specifically Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and can result in severe consequences. Search engines are able to spot these types of link building activities by detecting website registration connections or finding websites that follow specific linking patterns.
Article marketing, also called article spinning, involves writing one unique article, and then rearranging the words to create multiple versions. This rearranged article will then be placed on different, usually low-quality article sites with highly optimized anchor text links. This tactic once helped a website from being penalized by search engines for duplicate content (the exact same content across lots of different sites), and boosted both page strength and relevance.
How the Search Engines Fixed It
Search engines now identify low quality content by correlating website features with user engagement. Networks of sites where you can place this kind of content are even easier for them to identify.
The Right Way to Build Links
Search engine algorithms have evolved, becoming increasingly complex in order to combat what they view as spammy, black hat tactics that try to game their system.
Modern link building using an inbound marketing strategy focuses on high-quality, original content that provides value to users and incorporates an involved and engaged audience.
Although link building with content marketing isn’t easy or quick, it is a sure and safe way to future-proof your website from future search engine algorithm updates. After all, the ultimate goal of every search engine remains to provide the most relevant list of links for someone’s website search.