Local Marketing Campaigns

Getting Referral Links without Incurring Google’s Wrath

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Mike Licht/Flickr

Mike Licht/Flickr

Securing those coveted backlinks can be tricky, as Google doesn’t view all methods equally.

One of the most important aspects of improving your Google rankings, and maintaining high rankings, is to ensure that high quality websites link into your webpages. Here we will take a look at how to get backlinks without incurring Google’s wrath.

Search engine optimization is one of those elements of contemporary marketing that many think is just about good keywords. There is, however, much more to a strong SEO strategy than that.

There are more than enough self-proclaimed experts out there who have plenty of advice for marketers on how to maximize SEO efficiency–but seemingly, not enough of them are able to offer quality counsel about avoiding Google’s pesky penalties for referral link infractions.

It can be difficult to keep up with the search engine giant’s constant algorithm updates, and even the largest and most successful companies have been burned by link-related infractions resulting in swift, anvil-like drops in Google rankings. So how do marketers build quality links that generate solid traffic and still avoid the Google penalty monster?

For a brief period, conventional wisdom suggested the use of paid links in an effort to manipulate Google’s algorithm. It worked for a while because the search engine lacked the resources to be able to enforce its rules against such a tactic.

But it wasn’t too long before Google was able to get ahead of this commonly implemented strategy and put the kibosh on sites that clearly were trying to get away with it. Many companies then began using infographics and guest blogs to generate quality links, but that too became an offense worthy of Google penalization.

The Latest and Not-So-Greatest Penalties

During the first few months of 2014, there were a slew of new penalties for link violations that were adversely affecting even companies with the cleanest link building record. Regardless of the size or reputation of the company, Google seemed to be bringing the hammer down with reckless abandon and penalizing marketers for everything under the sun.

Many of the offenses were minor, but Google was apparently trying to send a message: comply with our algorithm or pay dearly. The Google Penguin algorithm has been particularly unforgiving.

Web developers were forced to admit defeat, and had to explain to their clients and employers that the SEO strategy that they had worked so hard to implement in accordance with Google’s previous standards was now null and void.

Guest blogging sites, infographic sites, and others that tried to “color outside the lines” by using what Google considered undesirable links have been all but banished from the search engine. Everywhere you look, Google is issuing penalty after penalty for link infractions, and marketers are gun-shy about adding any links at all despite the fact that they are essential for driving traffic.

Link-Building Sans Penalty

So what is the lowly Google-whipped marketer to do? Many have considered eradicating links all together because it just doesn’t seem worth the aggravation of including them only to have them neutralized by the Google link police.

But Google needs links and signals too, since the results they were getting without them when the algorithm was switched off were not up to the search engine’s standards. Since Google won’t be eradicating links entirely anytime soon, there must be ways to build links and still be in compliance, right?

Buy Quality Links

Buying links is still permitted, but many marketers and webmasters are buying undesirable ones because they think that they can’t be penalized for poor quality links. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It really isn’t possible to fly under the Google radar just because your link quality is low, so you might as well buy a few good links.

Buying links in bulk just because it saves you some money is counterproductive. [tweetable alt=”Don’t buy loads of cheap #backlinks, 1 or 2 quality #links will add solid value and please @google” hashtag=””]Buying one or two quality links will add solid value to your site and will generate traffic that will pass Google inspection.[/tweetable]

Create Attractive Content

No one is going to want to link to a site that has shoddy content. Content needs to be “linkable” which means content managers may need to scour forums and other resources in order to determine what target audiences are talking about and incorporate that into the site’s content. Once that content is molded and shaped into something that user’s want to share, traffic levels will inevitably start to rise.

Make Sure Your Site Has Value

Most people think this means they have to cram a bunch of guest posts and infographics onto their pages, but that is not necessarily the case. In fact, these two elements in particular are ones you probably want to steer clear of in favor of higher quality content.

Quality content is relevant content and what’s relevant is whatever your target audience wants. Engage with them. Find out what they like and don’t like. And mix it up a little. [tweetable alt=”Try varying the #content that your #site produces to maintain your popularity and #ranking ” hashtag=””]The same content, no matter how much it works, gets old after a while–so keep it fresh.[/tweetable] Link building is nowhere as easy as it once was, and a lot of people are finding that out the hard way.

Google can be your best friend or your worst enemy, but believe it or not they’re not out to take down your site. Try focusing less on the algorithms and more on just getting solid links and consistent traffic. Eventually everyone, including Google, will get “it” right.

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