You may have heard about Google’s message to webmasters who may be using techniques outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, such as artificial or unnatural linking intended to manipulate PageRank.
Some people are running scared right now because of this message and are even afraid to link to sites that are credible and do meet Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Others who received the message have nothing to be afraid of at all because they have never participated in link networks or other unnatural ways of building links that many sites have been involved in.
Most sites fall some where between these two reactions:
- They have participated in link schemes Google is fighting, are aware of it and know how to cleanup their site, or
- They have participated in link schemes Google is fighting, but are not aware of it and/or not aware how to cleanup their site.
It is clear now:
- Google is serious about dealing with unnatural ways of building links
- If you don’t know what natural link building is, you are way, way behind
Check out these thoughts from other SEO Pros about Google’s “unnatural linking” message:
- Carson Ward of Distilled wrote: Unnatural Link Warnings and Blog Networks – advice and confessions from a reformed link network spammer
Here’s the scenario that most SEO professionals believe is going on, and has been for a long while now…
Google’s Webspam team identifies a possible link network – a place where webmasters can buy, rent or participate in a link scheme designed to build links to their site from other sites that participate.
If the team verifies that indeed it is a link network that violates their guidelines, they can remove the entire network including all web pages that participate in it, with the click of a button. And just like that, all of those pages and links are removed from Google’s index.
If your site has been impacted by Google’s aggressive riddance of link networks, you must clean up your site by removing things that can be interpreted as violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines – not necessarily sites that link to your site unless you own them.
In the rare case that your site suffers from a manual penalty, you need to cleanup your site by completely removing links that can violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and confess your sins via the reconsideration request. Do not use the reconsideration request form unless you are certain that you have identified all violations, cleaned them up, will never violate them again and tell Google the same about each violation. (Google will not help you identify your particular violation.)
Matt Cutts explains when penalties are lifted in this video.
If you are thinking something like, “hmm, it seems like link building that involves buying, renting, participating in link networks, blasting your link throughout social media, and submitting articles with links in them to article directories doesn’t work any more.” I’d say you are catching on, but you still need to embrace link building that Google does recognize and actually wants to see more of, natural link building.
Natural links are built the hard way; they are earned by building real relationships, earned by understanding your target audience, earned by producing content that gets people sharing and linking to it.
The general formula for natural link building:
Create a strong reason or incentive for people to talk about your organization +
make it easy to share +
get in front of those who are most likely to share it
= natural mentions and links to your site
If you want proven natural link building strategies that Google is cool with, give me a ring-a-ding.