No good SEO without backlinks: That was true, that is, and it will probably be true for a long time to come. Because the internet and thus also Google still lives from links. However, the quality of the links is becoming more and more important.
“To blame” is not only the Google Penguin Update from 2012, which has been further developed over the years. The search engine giant is also currently pushing its efforts to punish so-called “link spam” with new updates.
Good link, bad link
The fact is that Google prohibits the purchase of backlinks according to Webmaster Guidelines. If you violate this, you as a website operator must expect digital exclusion.
At the same time, however, websites that are (often) naturally linked from valuable pages are rewarded. A dilemma for search engine optimizers? Not at all, because all you have to do is look at the two terms “natural” and “valuable” to forge a legitimate link building plan that works.
Money keywords, start pages and Co.
Of course, the Google algorithm cannot really look into the cards. Nevertheless, with a little common sense you can recognize what is considered unnatural with a probability bordering on certainty and thus devalued or, in the worst case, even punished.
Incidentally, Google not only punishes link buyers, but also publishers who offer links without advertising on their portals.
Content, anchor, attribute and target page in perfect symbiosis
First and foremost, of course, the page on which a link is placed should be trusted by Google and have correspondingly good metrics. Pay attention to values like the trust flow and the domain rating. Tip: A simple look at the imprint can also be worthwhile.
Backlinks from link spiners or pages with an otherwise dubious reputation are to be eliminated if possible. Often it is a question of “negative SEO” – that is, efforts by competitors, for example, to deliberately harm other sites.
However, the metrics of the linking page are by no means all that makes a link a good link.
Problem # 1: Texts like foreign bodies
It starts with the fact that some texts on websites seem like foreign bodies instead of being integrated into the existing structure in terms of form and content. If such an article is then not appropriately marked as a guest article, this leads to at least latent confusion.
Problem # 2: “hard” linking
“Money keywords”, that is, phrases that have a high monthly search volume or are linked to a direct purchase intention, as well as brand anchor links (brand names) are okay in advertorials marked as advertising. In allegedly neutral posts without any labeling, however, they rightly stir up a great deal of suspicion.
Problem # 3: Landing page that is promotional
The landing page clearly wants to sell a service or a product, but is linked from an article without advertising and “dofollow”. A common phenomenon that is more than obviously not entirely kosher. If, on the other hand, a very informative subpage were linked, the link could be more “justified” and thus “natural”.
Problem # 4: Link with no added value
External links can be a ranking factor for publishers and enhance their own content sustainably and completely in the spirit of Google. However, this only applies in the event that the outbound link supplements the content in a meaningful way – i.e. offers added value for the reader. If there is a mere copy of the linked post on the linked page, the link is de facto useless – for both sides.
Problem # 5: improper link attribute
Google repeatedly emphasizes that advertising (for example in the form of affiliate or other sponsored links) is neither a problem for publishers nor clients. But advertising must also be recognizable as such. The people behind the Google algorithm advise using nofollow and sponsored attributes. If these are not set, although one or more factors indicate a link bought, link buyers and sellers could run into problems in the long run.
EXTRA: How to get your B2B website ready for Google – 6 tips
So what to do
If you don’t want to risk penalties or just want to throw money out of the window for expensive links because they are not counted, it is best not to buy links. Sounds harsh, but it is like that. Nevertheless, there are ways and means of building a link profile that has a positive influence on your own rankings.
For example, if you focus on good advertorials, guest posts and broad social media marketing, your page will naturally become “visible”. If you also run your own blog, which can of course be linked to (because it is informative), you maximize the chance of real backlinks that will do your site well in the long term.