Over the last year there have been a lot of changes to the Google algorithm and you have probably been worried about the websites that are linking to your website. Due to the Google shift in what they allowed in the past to what they now penalise old link building methods need to be replaced with link earning strategies.
The times they are a-changin’
If you have been affected by Google updates then you are not alone and the truth is that Google have actually changed how they look at links and this is evident in the changes in the Webmaster Guideline.
Google used to say this:
Now they say this:
Hopefully you saw the slight change there. This slight change in the guidelines makes a huge difference to the algorithm.
The first step of the switch is to check the links that you already have to see if these should be cleaned up. Oh, and yes you should also do this even if you haven’t seen any drops in rankings or any manual unnatural links penalty message
Recovering from a penalty – Or just simply cleaning up shop
The obvious way to start this is to download you links from Google Webmaster Tools and another resource such as Link Research Tools and work through these to see if they are just links to your website for SEO or whether people visiting these websites will want to follow your link to your website. If you are short on time or simply not sure you can use Link Detox. However if you are using this tool you should also run through the links manually.
What’s the difference between link building and link earning
The key difference between the two is that link building is mainly focussed on building links into your website to improve your websites’ rankings on search engines. Where link earning is having great content that may earn links from across the web to improve your websites’ visibility online.
At this point I have to mention that some link building campaigns did a bit of both and if you use link earning you will more than likely get better rankings on search engines.
There are many ways that people have been link building in the past: some bad some good. This included:
Reciprocal link exchange: I’ll link to you if you link to me;
Email Blasts: Emails simply prompting people to link to you;
Buying listings: Although really this has always been a No-No, buying links for different places mainly directories;
Articles: Submitting articles to numerous article websites;
Commenting: You’ve seen these. The obvious comment that just says: “Hey great post” followed by a link – yes there are clever ways to do this but it’s still poor and always has been.
The above are some of the main ways that people use to build links. Now let’s look at how we can transform this into Google’s new way of thinking:
This is not going to be a definitive list but just some ideas to help you differentiate between the two.
Earn your links: This is obviously top of the list, the key nowadays (which is something we have been prompting people to do for years) is to create unique interesting content that people will want to link to;
Build online relationships: This is different from reciprocal linking. This is building a relationship with another webmaster or company and letting everyone know about it;
Directory listings: Obviously don’t buy them but there are useful directories out there whether they are local, specific or curated lists – The key is to look at them and see if you will actually get traffic from these.
Guest Posting: This is the new version of article submission but this should only be used on Picky websites where you have something very interesting to talk about and are not just re-writing content that is all over the web;
Participation: You can still participate in forums and blogs but you need to build up a relationship with other people there and then maybe you can mention your company or website (just maybe);
Competitor Analysis: This is used in both techniques and is looking to see where your competitors links come from. There are obviously a lot of ways this can be done: mimic (mainly link building method); analyse both link and content – this is done to mimic but also to see what content has worked for competitors and learn from it.
Social Networking: This has become a must nowadays and no matter what industry you are in this should be done to some level.
So there it is: the new age of online marketing which is very similar and extremely different all at the same time.
If there is one thing to take form this post it’s:
Don’t build links just for SEO rankings, earn links that bring relevant traffic.
If you do this the rankings will come too.