For some reason a lot of people are scared of links. To get to the bottom of this let's have a look at five of the fears that many people voice, and see if they are relevant or not.
Reticence to proactively acquire links
In terms of acquiring links, I am including purchasing then as well as simply begging. Many people seem to think that unless the link is an editorial grant, it is not worth having. The fact of the matter is though, that if you wait around exclusively for editorial links, your hair will probably turn grey. Whilst they are great links to have, they are not the be-all or the end-all.
People often say that good link building campaigns are not all about money. As far as I am concerned, that’s poppycock. It is virtually impossible to create a comprehensive content generation campaign that attracts links, unless you have either a healthy budget, or staff you can dedicate solely to that purpose.
It’s not just about embracing the content. Even if you do, you still have to get it out there and get it read. It has to be promoted, and that needs cash to do it successfully.
Without the budget, you’re not much more than a beggar/pauper. Even if you do get editorial links, what’s the difference? However it came about, someone saw the content and linked to it, whether it was created or bought, it has the same result.
Does it matter where the link came from – idealism aside? Google doesn’t know what your reason was for linking. They cannot tell whether it's editorial, whether you begged it, or whether you bought is. A quality link is just that – a quality link. That’s all Google really cares about.
Should you be afraid free-handout links?
You shouldn’t get too bound-up about links that just materialize. Yes, be cautious, but you don’t have to dig into every single link and check out how and where it came from. Some people, if they see that it emanates from Domain authority 11, they panic.
However, when it comes down to the crunch, I don’t get overly concerned; not unless the links appear in droves and they look as if they might have originated from spammy sources.
If for example a new link appears from a blogger who is new to the scene and he/she is simply trying to link to my web site through his/her interest in my content about link building, why should that bother me? It may not be the highest quality link I could wish for, but hey – a link is a link.
I do recommend though, that you should check your backlink profile out from time to time, just to disavow any obvious spammy links. The more of these you have in your profile, the more they could lower your ranking, so just police them now and again.
Concern about outbound links to other websites
Some Webmasters may tell you that outinking is illegal, and some might advise you that Google will penalize you for doing it. When all is said and done, I firmly believe this is an invaluable asset.
A while ago, when I was carrying out a review, I came across a page through which we acquired a superb link. The reason I rated it so highly was because it had outbound links to dozens of other great resources. It was a really fabulous link to have.
Sad to say that today all of those outbound links it contained have disappeared. The information is still referred to, but in order to access it, it now means having to manually go to each individual website. I was extremely disappointed.
To my mind some of the most useful information in cyberspace is available via out-links. Why deprive users access to it? I think it is fundamentally wrong.
Use of “nofollow” and other manipulative commands
The guidelines that Google publishes for Webmasters indicate that if you want web-pages to be ignored by spiders for ranking purposes; you should tack “nofollow” onto the end of the rel attribute.
Alternatively you can add a redirect to a link that takes the user through to an intermediate web-page that has been sealed off from search engines via a robots.txt file.
The problem from Google's point of view is wondering if these manipulative commands are hiding black-hat practices.
From the Webmaster's viewpoint it’s simply a matter of using these commands to best effect. “nofollow” can for example be used to lock out links that have been paid for, and affiliate links. However you wouldn’t use them for things like editorial links.
There is no need to be afraid of using these types of commands just as long as you fully understand the ramifications.
Don’t be afraid – but do be cautious
When it comes to the importance of search engines, there is no doubt that Google takes the prize. You never hear about ranking concerns or penalties being imposed by Bing or Yahoo – only by Google.
The fact of the matter is that in my opinion there is a genuine concern. In my time I have witnessed a number of websites being taken down by Google, whether with just cause or not. In other words, just policing your backlink profile from time to time may not prevent this, but it should of course reduce the likelihood, dramatically.
At the end of the day, if you do take chances with certain black-hat techniques, then there is a certain amount of risk involved. It's understanding this risk that is key.
One of the things that worries me most with my Webmaster hat on (white of course) is that in an attempt to banish spammy links from the internet, Google have created wide sweeping guidelines that can result in penalizing websites for practices that were once acceptable but are now not. Also, that in retrospect, they might come up with new penalties for practices that have become new trends.
Be afraid – be very afraid, is not something any of you should countenance when it comes to linking. However, having a little bit ff doubt in the back of your mind will help to keep you on your toes and keep your websites alive, and well ranked.
Category Search Engine Marketing