It used to be that any link pointing to a website benefited its overall rankings on Google and other search engines. In fact, it was Google that introduced the system back in 1998, making it one of the most important factors in its search algorithm’s decision process when assessing a page. Recognizing that, webmasters spent more than a decade accruing as many backlinks as they could find, with questionable results
Google meant for backlinks to stem from high-quality websites to establish a website’s authority but, as is often the case, marketers found creative ways to exploit the system while putting in as little work as possible. This led to entire websites devoted to spun articles, published solely for the links they contained. Soon it became necessary to have thousands of backlinks to remain competitive in many niches. These articles contributed nothing to readers, and people compensated for a lack of quality by sheer quantity.
Google Cracks Down
Unfortunately for those who invested in spam and shoddy directories, Google knew what was going on and set out to level the playing field. The Penguin update, released in 2012, began punishing websites with too many suspicious backlinks. Suddenly, marketers were paying for businesses to remove their links rather than add more. It sent shock waves around the Internet and fundamentally changed the way search engine optimization, or SEO, is managed today. With so much outdated information out there, it’s critical that new marketers understand this shift and adjust their plans accordingly.
Why Backlinks Still Matter
The basic idea behind backlinks is still one of the best ways for Google to judge a website’s value. The company knows better than to trust a program, even one with highly intelligent coding, to rank every aspect of a webpage. With that in mind, a niche’s community becomes Google’s informal poll for every site. The theory goes that if a certain blog post or page has garnered the attention of related authors, it must be worth sharing on the search rankings.
Of course, reality never goes quite according to plan, and once the search results became skewed toward aggressive SEO, Google started tweaking to protect its primary revenue source. That doesn’t mean that Google has abandoned its system entirely. Backlinks must still be part of any SEO strategy, but the old methods are no longer a viable option.
The Old Backlinking System
As mentioned earlier, the last decade of SEO had been dominated by precision keyword use and a constant search for more links. It didn’t matter where the links came from, even if the directory never saw human eyes and had a plunging rank for its search string. Spinning an article and then publishing it hundreds of times was easier than manually leaving quality comments and posts that could benefit other webmasters and readers.
Following the Penguin update, the marketers who had built their entire income off of these links were left scrambling to determine which backlinks were acceptable by Google’s standards and which were weighing their websites down. In the next few months, the community began to develop a clear idea of the new backlink system.
The Bad Backlinks
Google is now assessing every link it stumbles across. The first check is whether or not it’s a do-follow link. When a link is marked as no-follow, Google bots move on and do not count it as a backlink. This is often used by blogs or forums that would like to encourage discussion without drawing in spam. No-follow links are great for bringing in direct traffic but meaningless for SEO purposes.
Do-follow links can either harm or help a website. The ones that will damage page rankings are attached to low-quality content and repetitive anchor text. Google also analyzes the content around a link. Poor grammar and spelling are a dead giveaway that the article or comment has only been posted for personal gain. Google also analyzes when backlinks were posted. If a website has 50 links posted to it within a few hours, it’s an obvious sign that they were bought and pushed out by a bot, and that’s what’s going to sink your SEO.
The Good Backlinks
Today, one backlink from a top website within the right niche is worth 100 of those poor links. Even more importantly, those links need to be varied, with different anchor texts and posting times to mimic a natural progression of reputation. The blogs that are ranked in the first five search results for a keyword are prime real estate, but they tend to guard their reputation carefully. That means SEO marketers must focus on quality instead of quantity. Interact with your colleagues and build off each other for mutual benefit. If you help your niche grow and expand and become an active contributor, you will be rewarded with not only better page ranking, but also the greater respect and loyalty of your readers and clients.
Working With Google’s New Rules
Now that Google has steered SEO away from automation and toward a more organic style, many Internet marketers are struggling to keep up with the change. Placing backlinks used to be so easy that webmasters themselves could boost a page’s ranking in less than an hour. Now, however, creating links takes time.
Rather than spending hours puzzling over blog comments that will be approved by a site administrator, it’s far more economical to outsource the job to experienced professionals. Adblaze stands out as a premier SEO company offering a free backlink report followed by a comprehensive and effective link-building system to help your business prosper while others are driven under by their own lazy practices.