What are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ links?

Bad Links

What Is Link Building?

More and more customers are becoming aware of “bad” links. They might even bring up “Penguin” and ask, “What is a bad link?” Here we look at what unnatural links might look like and, even better, what a “good” link is and where you might acquire them.

Up until now many SEO companies relied heavily on link building and acquisition. The idea is simple; create a link from external sources with an anchor matching a popular search query. So I could use a link to my site with “New Jersey SEO” as the anchor from multiple locations in an effort to improve my search placement for that term. Google has always stated that “paid” links are against their guidelines. Last year, however, Google started to devalue these types of links and many sites with large link profiles found themselves further down the page or completely vanishing from search.

What are “Bad” Links?

So what makes a link ‘bad’? It’s pretty simple really. Did you pay a service to acquire links? If so it’s very likely considered to be “unnatural” by search engines. The internet is laden with article sites full of duplicated or poorly spun content and marketers would be wise to avoid them at all costs. Often misinformed business owners participate in article marketing or comment links without knowing the long-term consequences.

What are “Good” Links?

So if paid links are ‘bad’, what makes a ‘good’ link? If you aren’t participating in a paid link service or ‘link wheel’, where you link out in return for reciprocal links, chances are your links are natural. For example, if you’re an attorney and you have links from Avvo or Lawyers.com, two authoritative lawyer sites, those should be considered ‘real’ and ‘natural’. If you write a great article or blog on your site and it gets attention in relevant searches it might get linked from other blogs and used as a reference. This is a great way to build relevant and authoritative links.

Other Things to Watch Out For

The two big mistakes I see are using the same anchor text repeatedly and using incoming links from every page on a domain. Google likes to see varied anchor text from incoming links. So using the same anchor every single time is not a good idea. Instead try and mix up your keywords with the actual domain name and/or the company name. Some folks even use anchors like “Click Here” which seems like a pretty natural approach to me. This issue can be compounded by affiliate links from every page on a site when the anchor exists on a sidebar or footer. Ask people linking to your site to keep it to a single page, preferably the homepage.

What can you do if you used ‘bad links’ in the past?

Getting back on track can be difficult. You can disavow those links through Google web master but that can take some time and there is no guarantee that you will see your site return to it’s former glory. You can reach out to the webmaster for links you do not want to disavow and ask them to remove the link or change the anchor but you’ll likely see limited success with getting people to comply.

Contact us

Let’s face it, links can be dangerous to your marketing campaign. While great links can be huge for your search results the wrong ones can kill it. Many companies, or their SEO companies, got involved with building links since that seemed like the “thing to do” at the time (up until Penguin 1) and it was proven to work for many industries. As Google continues to move toward a quality-centric algorithm we expect to see quality search results with authority instead of those with the most links for their keywords. This should be embraced by companies and SEOs alike. Contact our New Jersey SEO team to learn how we can help your internet campaign.