Link building: the good and the bad.

Some believe that large efforts in link building with their website is very helpful in improving your search results on Google. If you've ever been contacted by an SEO company, that is one of the things many of them tout as the way to get you #1.

I've never subscribed to the notion of large link building strategies as a way to fool Google and improve search results. Why try to game a system?

According to Google, this type of 'gaming the system' linking building is not a helpful tactic for increasing SEO, and may now be very harmful.

Google's Penguin update has been operating now for about a month. One of the most significant algorithm changes in the update is the de-emmphasis on links that serve no real purpose or are not relevant. Google is putting more emphasis on quality content and quality links, real links that come from respected sites, and not from low quality sites, just for the sake of a link.

There are two parts to the Penguin update that may or may not effect your website.

  • The first one is site-wide links. These types of links are usually found in the footer, header, or side bar (of a blog) and appear on every page of the website. They are attempts at SEO improvement, but many times just appear as a long list of random links with key words.
  • The second part are low quality links, or links to pages with no real value, including websites built just for links or links purchased or connected from low quality websites or networks.

According to Matt Cutts, "we've done a good job of ignoring boilerplate, site wide links. In the last few months, we've been trying to make the point that not only is link buying like that not doing any good, we're turning the dial up to let people know that certain link spam techniques are a waste of money."

If your website has been effected by the Google Penguin update because of link building tactics there is a way to recover.

  • The first step is to remove all site-wide and low quality links from your website and/or blog.
  • The second step is to not purchase links from companies that sell them just for linking sake. Don't trade or drop links just to get a link, and delete these links if you can.
  • The third step is to concentrate instead on building relationships with trusted, high quality sites, other companies, bloggers and media, that will take an interest in your content and share with their audience.

And those spam comments you get on your blogs with links? We delete them, of course, and hope you do too. These are perfect examples of low quality links, especially if those comments are not relevant to your content. Hopefully with this update, link farms that sell these services to companies will fade away as folks see that links won't help and can hurt a website. And, those somewhat reputable companies that aren't technically spamming, but just leaving semi-thoughtful comments with the ultimate goal of getting a link back will fade away, as well. We can dream!

The most important step is to be true, sincere and honest in your website development, appearance, and at the same time provide valuable, engaging and link worthy content on your website and on your blog. With that, you will attract attention from higher traffic, quality and respected sites that will be interested in linking to your site and, with this new Google update, improve your SEO, as well.

Additional reading and resources:

Matt Cutts On Penalties Vs. Algorithm Changes, A Disavow-This-Link Tool & More - tool for finding inbound links to your site.
Matt Cutts: Another step to reward high-quality sites


  1. Do you think legit site-wide links are a problem? I noticed in my Google Webmaster tools that my blog is listed on a much larger blog (in the blogroll) that shows over 20,000 links back to my site.


  2. Yes, site-wide links (links which appear on every page, usually in the footer, and may or may not relate to your content/site info) would be bad.

    What you are talking about I believe are inbould links that you see - sites that link into your site. These you really have no control over. Outbound links (links on your blog and site) you do have control over as they are linking out from your site. Best recommendation there would be that the links and sites that you are linking to are relevant and good additions to your site.



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