Your SEO strategy is a massive part of your digital marketing effort, and if you’re spending time on link building, there are a few things you need to be aware of that could get you into serious trouble with Google’s spam team. In our latest blog post, we take a look at the types of links that get you penalised and how to avoid getting penalised.
A quick recap of link building terms
Inbound links are clickable links from any other site that links back to your site; that’s why they are often called backlinks. They bring traffic to your website.
The exact opposite of inbound links, outbound links point to other websites or webpages.
Also called manual actions. Google can demote or remove a website (as a whole) or pages of a website that engage in spammy, unnatural link building which goes against Google’s terms. Webmasters are informed of such actions on the Search Console and the webmaster then has an opportunity to fix the problem and send a reconsideration request.
Any link that attempts to manipulate the Google ranking system may form part of a link scheme. These include buying or selling links, using services that automatically create links to a site, and excessive link exchanges. Link Schemes are set out under Google’s quality guidelines.
Common link penalties you need to avoid
Whether it is pure spam that adds no value to where it is posted, or user-generated spam that is created by posting in forums, discussions and blogs, Google does not like spam links. If your link building strategy includes adding your link to discussions and forums, you need to be very careful to only mention it when it is relevant and useful and directly related to the content you are commenting on.
Google does not play well when it comes to the practice of buying and selling links. If you’re paying someone to add your link to their site or being paid to add a link to your site, then you’re going to get penalised. If you decide that you want to buy links, be sure to mark them as “no follow” links that will be excluded from your rankings. In general, the best idea is just to avoid this practice.
Private blog networks
Also called link networks, this is basically a network of sites that are all owned by one person and used primarily to link to each other. This tactic isn’t always effective because all the sites need strong inbound links to have an influence on ranking, and even if done correctly, Google still sees this as manipulative behaviour and may penalize you for using this strategy.
Low quality, foreign and irrelevant links
If you use links from low quality websites, sites that are irrelevant to your content and masses of foreign links, Google will pick up that you’re trying to cheat the system and will penalize you. The idea is to improve your ranking by proving that your website is relevant and useful so these types of links won’t contribute to your rankings and may hurt your link building efforts.
Business directories and bookmarking sites
While not all directories are bad, there are many web directories that are really low quality and if your website is listed on low quality directories or bookmarking sites, you need to remove it or disavow it to avoid penalties from Google.
How to avoid getting penalised
If your website is a source of quality information that has value to users, you really don’t have to do too much to avoid penalties from Google. The number one rule is to create valuable, quality content that will earn you organic links and improve your ranking.
Here are some more tips to help you avoid penalties:
- Don’t try to get links by paying for them or exchanging goods, services or links for them.
- If you’re promoting something, use the correct attributes to tell Google what your relationship with that page is
- Diversify keywords and don’t just dump keyword anchors in your text wherever it can go. Incorporate links in a natural way or leave them out of your content.