Since the dawn of Search Engine Optimization, nothing has attracted more attention than Google penalty. Till now, numerous businesses have suffered from the wrath of the search giant. Much more will continue to suffer from such actions. Unfortunately, many site owners are completely clueless about shielding their ventures. It should be noted that the ‘big daddy’ of the search landscape is not sitting idle; so, you should also not embrace laziness. You need to formulate a strategy to retain your competitiveness without any further delay.
If you’re not living under a rock, you must have heard of links getting penalized by Google. Every SEO expert has to mull over certain guidelines to deviate from making any error. Here, we will explain each kind of link that is certain to get penalized by Google. Read on to find out more.
Stay Away from Paid Links:
This topic is also the simplest and the most complicated for most site owners. Remember that Google seems pretty serious about the topic. Anyway, paid links are plainly links purchased by a site owner to augment his web traffic. This is the most obvious definition of paid links, by any standard. However, is every link out there considered paid by the Google web spam team? Well,
Open Link Selling:
Yes, these are the clearest ones! If the link involves exchange of money, Google will definitely consider it as a paid one. Further, they will consider these links as dishonest measures to manipulate search results. Such options are conveniently available online, often with tempting promises. It is better to stay away from such temptations. Anyway, Google’s message is crystal clear; get rid of these paid links or disavow these links immediately.
The Criterion of Value:
Okay, this is something fairly confusing. Let’s just say, a $700 gift card tends to be very near to money. This gift card could misguide anyone from his course of chart. However, if you offer someone a pen of $1 value, it is less likely to manipulate the user’s decision. Google considers this ‘’value’’ before deciding whether a link is paid or not. Even a slightest hint of manipulation or deception will evoke action from Google, sooner or later.
What is the Difference between a Gift and Loan?
Now, this is something pretty simple. Giving someone a product for review or evaluation is a loan. But, if the product is deliberately given to someone, it is obviously not a loan. Both are poles apart. You should know the difference, as Google is already aware of it.
The Enigma of Intention:
The intention of audience also plays a crucial role in deciding whether a link should be considered paid or not. For example, you visited a conference, and received a service trial for six months. The intention was not acquiring links, but augmenting their reach to prospective clients. On the other hand, if the conference is giving away free smartphones, the intention is clearly shady.
The Surprise Factor:
Strange but true, Google also considers the surprise factor. Once again, lets’ take an instance, you are a movie reporter, and free movie tickets are not bound to surprise you. But, if the freebie converts into a free car, the surprise level will go off the charts. And this is not beneficial for your site. Google will consider such links as paid, which could be disastrous.
Article Directories are Dead
If you are still spending a significant amount of time submitting articles on numerous article publishing sites, brace yourself for disappointment. The bitter truth is that article marketing fails to provide satisfactory results. In last few years, publishing sites like Ezine and Hubpages are no longer getting a respectable share of online traffic. Many other publishing sites are also facing similar treatment in the hands of Google.
Not so long ago, SEO experts submitted articles on these sites religiously, however times have changed. In fact, this practice will do more harm than good for your site. These sites were the hub for the mediocre content of equally mediocre length. And the attitude of the search giant towards such content is obvious. Matt Cutts, the brain behind all those deadly updates, has made it clear that article marketing is dead. So, bid adieus to outdated article submission techniques and artificial links.
Okay, then what’s the latest technique to augment web page traffic? Well, there are different methods to improve page rankings. The most beneficial would be content marketing; a well-written piece is certain to attract attention from users. Let your prospective customers hear your message. Ensure that you are an authority on the topic. Also try to promote your site through social networks, which is undoubtedly a great way to develop client relationship. Remember that there is no shortcut to success; you need to invest efforts and dedication to taste success in the online world.
Say No to Paid Reviews
Every business is definite to aspire for positive reputation on Internet. As you can expect, paying for positive and keyword optimized reviews is nothing new. This practice is definite to attract attention and traffic, but what’s Google stance on this technique. Of course, this method is manipulative in nature, and is deceiving to Google and users alike.
If we consider Google guidelines, the issue is evoked in the Google places segment. It is quite clear that factual and honest reviews should be posted online. The rules & regulations are laid out as follows:
- A user should not post copied content. He should strictly adhere to the content policy of the search giant.
- There is no room for advertisement or spamming.
- Fake/paid reviews will attract penalty.
- Users should deviate from posting off-topic reviews.
- There should be no conflict of interests.
Simply put, Paid or fake review is a big no. Google wants only genuine reviews on the Internet. There are many ways to get your product reviewed. For instance, if you own a consumer goods company, send one unit to a blogger. He will definitely review the product, leading to greater publicity about your product.
A Word on Links from Press Releases:
Google is very upfront about this issue. Their link schemes guidelines clearly state that links with optimized anchor text in press releases published on multiple sites breach their guidelines. Thus, all the links in a PR must utilize nofollow. If these requirements are not fulfilled, your site rankings may fall. This is something that should be avoided at any cost.
It is quite clear that Google is treating press releases as advertisements for a business. However, if anyone reads your press release, and decides to create a link to you, it does not require nofollow. So, should you still release press releases? Well, the answer is definitely a resonating yes. This is a great medium to inform the world about your services or products. Hopefully, other outlets will spread the word about your new offerings; hence, it is beneficial for your business. Still, you need to follow the guidelines discussed above.
Comment on Blogs, but…….
If you‘ve ever published a blog, comment spamming must have given you headaches. Interestingly, Google holds the right to penalize such links. Anyway, before we proceed with the methods to prevent Google’s anger, let’s try to understand what type of comments are considered spam. Random comments with irrelevant, copied content and promotional hyperlinks are usually considered spamming. These comments could be completely off-topic, diluting the quality and appeal of the blog.
So, should we use blog comments to increase the web traffic? Well, there is a dire need to adopt a cautious approach in this regard. Even Matt Cutts has admitted leaving comments with links on numerous blogs. However, there is also a word of caution. It’s time you completely abandon the practice of keyword stuffed names for posting comments. Take charge and use your real name for posting comments. Also, the comments should be relevant and expressive.
Moving on, another piece of advice comes concerns link building through such comments. Matt is of the opinion that commenting should not form a major portion of your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Don’t even think about leaving numerous comments every single day, or Google will consider it as manipulative technique. Indulge in regular organic commenting, and always go for relevant blogs. These steps should be enough to protect you from any sort of punishment.
Is This the End of the Road for Guest Posting?
Well, the issue tends to be a bit complicated. In 2014, the practice is not expected to yield expected results. Often, we come across numerous instances where guest blogging seems like a spamming activity. A few years back, guest blogging was something honorable, and certain to augment your reach by leaps and bounds. But, we are in 2014. The present scenario calls for a cautious and quality-oriented approach. So, guest blogging is far from being dead.
There is no dearth of reasons to pursue guest posting. Some reasons include exposure, branding, and many more. These reasons have always prevailed, and will definitely to do so in the near future. However, it is advisable for SEO experts to stay away from low-quality or spam sites. Matt Cutts has talked about guest blogging in a must watch video; there it is quite clear that Google is plainly against spamming. Here, it implies low quality or spin blogs that is certain to disappoint readers. You should be aware of the distinction between spam guest blogging and high-quality guest posts.
There are several services offering improvement in page rank with paid guest blogging services. Cutts is quick to point out that such steps clearly breach the guidelines of Google. Sadly, many site owners still don’t understand the negative influence of such practices on their business. Remember that quality content has worked well in the past, and it will continue to do so in the future. Even multiple authors’ sites with high-quality content are certain to survive in the long run. If your site is playing host to a guest blog, and you are uncertain about the quality, no follow them without any further delay.
Links from Low-quality Forum Posts:
In a similar fashion, Forums are susceptible to links abuse as well. It can be easily claimed that such places are great places to promote your business or site. You should participate in the discussion, but, do not visit these for merely augmenting sales. Interestingly, the provision of quality makes an attendance in this segment as well.
Unfortunately, many individuals post comments on forums that make no sense at all. Meddling with irrelevant forums is another error. All these are clearly spamming, which is a clear violation of Google’s guidelines. So, the search giant could flag it, and penalize your site. As a matter of fact, they are quick to find out such practices.
The ideal way is to take your attention from links. Yes, we are serious about it. Your entire mindset should be towards helping out a user, and solving his problem. Now, there is a desperate need to spend some time doing research online. It would be better if the discussion concerns your expertise or business. A hasty approach is never welcomed; indeed, it is about building a reputation to win other members trust and loyalty.
Once, a bond of trust is established, suggest (not force) a link. It should be clear to you that this is a long term venture. Be an active member of the forum, which is essential to establish your credibility among members of the forum.
Are Links from Social Bookmarking Sites Beneficial?
There are numerous techniques in the SEO landscape that are definite to backfire. Low quality social bookmarking sites are part of this group. If you desire to achieve success in this domain, spend some time conducting research. Completely deviate from associating with hundreds of bookmarking sites. Such random posting of links is obviously spamming in the eyes of the search giant.
Finest ways for successful social bookmarking:
- If you’ve decided to seriously take up social bookmarking, you need to get involved in the conversations. This will fortify your presence in the community, and people will trust your suggestions.
- Extend a helping hand to the members. So, you should not just bookmark your own sites. A healthy portfolio of bookmarks is essential.
- Find you target audience. If you sell accounting software, it is better to target accountants and related professionals
Links from Low-Quality Link Directories are certain to Attract Penalty:
First, do not get tempted by web directory services that promise thousands of directory registrations. And then, keep in mind that having a lot of links arriving from such directories is certainly not good for your site. Once again, quality conveniently outweighs quantity. Even a few quality ones will get the job done in a convenient manner. If you’re performing hundreds of such submissions, it is certain to annoy Google, and could consequence in a penalty.
Note that most such directories are nothing more than depository for trash. Anyone can submit their links to such places, then where is the quality? And establishing relationship with such bad sites is certain to dilute your reputation as well. But, we are not implying that every web directory is bad, but you need to be careful.
Do you know any other kind of link which can harm a website’s ranking? Tell us in comments.
Vishal Vivek began his entrepreneurial career at a very young age of 24 after leaving his job in IBM. Despite facing lots of hardships at an early age and loss of his dad in the first few months of launching his cash starved start-up SEO Corporation, he managed to emerge as a winner. He single handedly took a one man start-up to become a reputed brand in search engine marketing industry. Vishal has a lot of admirers in form of his clients, friends and colleagues. Though he still works more than 16 hours on week days and 10 hours, he still manages to maintain his passion of reading voraciously. He loves writing and motivating others to out do themselves. His life is indeed an example for many who wish embark on a journey of unknown after leaving the comfort of a secure future.
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