Is Link Building In Any Way Good Or Is It Bad?
Penguin 4.0 Update 2016 Link Building Tips
The million dollar question - Is link building in any way good or is it bad, and how do I identify bad links?
Firstly, I keep reading about people getting crushed by last years Penguin Update (October 2014) that used automated programs like 'XRumer', which is a program that can post links and ads on more than 400,000 resources and 'Ultimate Demon' as well as 'Sick Submitter' that submits content and links to hundreds of sites, mostly directories and bookmark sites.
Earlier this year (2015) Google's Webmaster trends analyst John Mueller was captured saying live in a Google+ hangout when asked the following question:
Is link building in any way good?
John's initial response was:
That is a good question. In general, I’d try to avoid that.
So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.
We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.
Link building is most definitely not bad. Building bad links is bad. Mueller's recommendation to avoid link building is with out a doubt appropriate because in general Webmasters build bad links while on a prerogative quest of PageRank (which, coincidently is only one of over 200+ metrics Google use when weighing your site)
Google as well as other search engines use links to determine how to deliver high quality search results when a users enter queries into the search tool. Historically, prior to the launch of Penguin in 2012 the problem has been that Google wasn't paying a lot of attention to the quality of links, but instead focused more on quantity verses quality.
Webmasters and SEO's alike gamed the system by building links any way they could, including building large numbers of fake links, auto generated links and low quality websites that pushed PageRank (follow backlinks) which resulted in the creation of the Penguin Algorithm.
Needless to say, SEO's doing things automated, are missing the entire point of backlinks in the first place.
One factor to consider, which most SEO's and Webmasters are missing when going after high quality backlinks is relevance. If you're into office furniture design in Cape Town, but your SEO firm is building links to your website from India, those are bad links.
Even worst is directories and bookmark site links that are completely unrelated to your niche and untrustworthy. The only thing it tells Google is that you're using illicit means to game PageRank, which indirectly tells Penguin or the WebSpam Team they should penalise your website from search until you clean up those links. The more relevant place to get links would be from office furniture design associations in South Africa like, BEE, IID or from previous projects, happy customers, or even websites in the same niche that already carry authority (editorial links)
Actually, the right way to build high quality links is not to build them at all, but instead, earn them naturally. The problem is that producing great content takes time, effort, and at the most of times, money. Many companies faced with this reality take short-cuts focusing too much on backlinks, and not enough on the other metrics Google use when weighing a site.
As Mueller said, "I'd try to avoid that. It will likely lead to more harm than good".
The safest method of link building is link earning (editorial links are good links)
Software generated backlinks and links from untrusted sources, as well as links that are not relevant to your niche will only impact negatively on your website.
Here is a link to Googles Guidelines - Link Schemes
They do mention:
* Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
* Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
As well as forum spam, etc.
The Penguin algorithm has been doormat for close on two years but will be running soon - "big change". So now is the time to sit down and analyse your backlink profile/campaign so that you can take action upon unnatural links that were created by previous 'PageRank Chasing SEO's' or yourself.
The best place to start would be in Webmaster Tools Search Console under - Search Traffic >> Search Analytics, then download the graph and sieve through it. Or you may use sites like Majestic Backlink Checker or Open Site Explore.
Next step is to identify GOOD links, then contact the websites with regards to BAD links requesting removal. Bad links that cant be removed, disavow.
And don't stress. Penguin 2016 will run real-time, meaning they will pick up changes as they crawl the web, amending accordingly.
Penguin 4.0 Update 23 September 2016
Google's Gray Illyes on Twitter has officially confirmed Penguin 4.0 Algorithm Update. Google Webmaster Blog states Penguin 4.0 is now part of the core algorithm.
Penguin 4.0 Is Now Real Time >>
Conclusion - Penguin 4.0 Update 2016
My personal opinion is that the Penguin 4.0 update in 2016 will take the evolution of link value to the next level, placing more importance on semantically related links that are relevant to the sites niche and emphasise more importance on editorial links rather than the old method of PageRank.
Always remembering that Webmaster trends analyst, Gary Illyes was quoted on Twitter saying:
The new Penguin update will make Webmasters life easier a bit and for most people it will make it a delight.
A comment like that points more to an advanced Penguin that can now recognise spammy links (able to now assign negative value) and relevance (able to now assign bonus value)
And on a final note - Never under estimate the power of nofollow links and text links. Google do crawl those links, they simply don't pass link juice. Nofollow links may not pass PR, but they do pass traffic flow, which Google will detect and credit you for.
Additionally, a link profile with 90% follow links will look unnatural.
And on a final note:
Stay away from SEO services like this >>
Now you yourself could imagine Penguin coming across links on more than 400,000 resources, your content on hundreds of sites within a short period of time as well as forum submission, bookmark submission, directory submission and article submission!!?
Would that look natural to you? Its definitely not natural link building to me, and I think Penguin will agree with me.
Stay away from SEO services that spam. They will burn and crucify your site in the year 2016.
In other words - Penguin will fry your @ss.
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