Are bad links to your site creating problems with Google
With the repercussions of the recent Penguin update, many businesses have grown concerned about who is linking to their site. Where once they tried to generate as many links as possible, they’re now realizing not all links are created equal. In a panic some are having a knee jerk reaction to the penalties. While in some cases who links to your site could be an issue, links are still an important element of SEO.
Google has never really changed its policy on links arguing that they want quality links that are earned. The whole idea was that links served as a vote for your site. The idea for it came from terms papers that the used citations throughout to indicate where the facts came from. The belief was these works being cited were the main sources of information. Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used this as the basis of their search ranking algorithm. Their reasoning was that this would work for websites, as well and initially it did.
This is how John Mueller of Google characterized their philosophy in a recent thread on Google's Webmaster Forum.
“The kind of links that our algorithms love are genuine recommendations by other websites, which are generally best earned by having an absolutely fantastic website with the best content possible. I realize that's not something which is easily done from one day to the next, but that would be my long-term recommendation.”
With some of my clients who have exchanged links in the past with other sites, we are now receiving requests to remove those links. Yet, when I accepted these links in the past on behalf of my clients I always diligent about which links we accepted. It had to be on the actual site and not on some third party site that was only developed for the sole purpose of containing links. I also made sure the other site’s content was related to the content on my client’s sites. So if it were a contracting company it seemed like a natural fit with a construction company.
My assessment of potential partners for my client’s seem to have paid off. Not only were they not affected by the Penguin update, their rankings are in some cases even stronger.
The thinking among some is that links are losing their value, but Matt Cutts of Google dismissed this idea. They will always be important as not just an indication of the quality of a site, but also its content. Mueller brought this up in the same thread in which he talked about what quality links were.
“What's happening here is that we're ignoring some of the links pointing to your website, which on the one hand can be useful if these are problematic links that you don't want to have counted, but on the other hand, it would be easier for our algorithms to understand your site if that wasn't necessary.”
Bing now has it so that you can have certain links disavowed and Google is likely to do the same thing. The problem again is that many webmasters may go to the extreme with this. While there are certainly sites you don’t want to be associated with, don’t make this the sole focus of your SEO campaign.
Your link building campaign should instead focus on creating quality content. Content marketing isn’t about scraping content from other sites to use as your own or simply throwing a bunch of words together on a page with no effort made to develop content that others will actually find useful. By creating content that has genuine value you’ll get others to link back to your page or to recommend it in social media.
Getting links to your site is still important, but it’s more than just accumulating as many links as possible without thought of their quality. The best link is one that someone follows from another to yours and takes some sort of action, either becoming a customer or an advocate.
If you’re concerned about who is linking to your site, considering having Ad Hoc Marketing examine your site. We can also help with your content marketing by generating copy for your site that will have lasting value.