For years Google have told us that link quality is important and bad links will do you no good, and most SEO companies have laughed at this as for the past 10 years links from any site have still gotten results. Until now…
A few weeks ago many webmasters recieved messages from Google in their webmaster tools account notifying them that they had noticed unnatural links.
The message read;
Dear site owner or webmaster, We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes. We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results. If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request. If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support. Sincerely,Google Search Quality Team.
Almost exactly 21 days later if you got this message then your site dropped from 1st page in Google to around 3rd page in Google or below.
This was good news for many of our clients as with these sites dropping from the top of the SERPs it cleared space for them to move up higher, but if your site was dropped it can cause a substantial drop in traffic and in turn business which is very damaging.
Good and Bad Link Building
Google has the monopoly in search engines and this is because they continue to display the best and most relevant websites at the top for particular keywords. However the clever people that call themselves SEO’s, black hat, white hat or shades of grey, have always been able to find loopholes in Googles algorithms to get websites to the top and one of the easiest ways to manipulate the search results is with links.
Link building can add value to your campaign and actually refer relevant traffic if done propoerly but this method is time consuming, expensive and takes time to work. Another way of link building is link farms, spamming and auto links, these produce a lot of links very quickly, get results quickly but are actually very low quality links. The mentality of doing these links was that Google was yet to be able to identify which links were good and which were bad so many sites got away with this.
Now Google has found these blog networds and are able to identify auto links and very low quality links and if these are the only links you have been building then this technique stands out like a sore thumb. These sites are now in a position where they are being penalised and are having to try to get these links removed.
What to do now?
If your site has dropped after recieving this message, or dropped without the message (some sites did not get it and the message was only sent to owners of the webmaster account so if you did not set it up and only have access you may not have recieved it) then you need to look at changing your strategy.
Long tail keywords
Your site may have been dropped for your ‘generic’ keywords, however long tail keywords on most if the sites we have analysed have not been affected and can also bring you better quality traffic. To target long tail keywords you need to optiise specific landing pages and make sure they are relevant, if these pages are primed then natural link building to these pages will increase the strength and relevance. You can also mix this up with links to the domain.
Build your Brand
Now, more than ever it is important for you to build your company or website brand, any link building can be focussed around your brand instead of keywords and your website will build trust.
Keep Calm and Carry On Link Building
Although link building got you in this mess in the first place don’t shy away from it, Links still act as good recommendations. Instead of going for a huge quantity of bad links try to go for quality that will build your reputation as a website or business.
As always good content will help you gain good positions and linkable content will earn you links naturally. As ever keeping up to date with news and adding content to your site will still help you get good positions in the SERPs. Good content also has that added benefit of being great for users and if you have an awesome website the positions will come, the traffic will come and the sales will come!
So Google can identify bad links and WILL penalise you for it, this leaves websites open to attack from competitors!
One of the arguments that supported bad links was Google couldn’t penalise you for them as it is easy for a competitor to build bad links to a site, to get links you do not have to prove ownership of the site and it is not under your control who links to you.
Negative SEO is now a lot easier to do as we know Google will drop the site, this means if Google wants to prevent this more algorithm changes are needed or we could all be subjected to negative SEO from competitors!