Google has absolutely made it clear that they are gunning for any unnatural links or content. Links are great right? If you are a website owner who has had any understanding of Search Engine Optimization then the thought of hundreds of websites linking to yours makes you warm all over. Links are what establishes authority and tells the search engine that your website has value and should be ranked high in the search results.
The problem/trick is that Google does not want you to ‘build’ links. They certainly do not want you purchasing them. They have spent a tremendous amount of time from the infamous ‘Penguin’ update till now working on snuffing out links that are unnatural. So what used to be a powerful link that increased authority may now cause your website to be penalized if Google can determine the link was created artificially or unnaturally. Yes, I said penalized. There will be those in the SEO world who will argue that Google will not penalize for unnatural looking links but rather just ignore them. I know from experience that they do penalize in some cases.
So how do you approach organic optimization in 2014? In short, very carefully. The days of building hundreds of links per month are over, instead, take your time and build links in places that completely make sense. If you are a mattress store then it makes sense to be linked to from a blog about the back health benefits of memory foam. Also, I think that we all must focus on Link Baiting more. Link Bait is any content or feature, within a website, designed specifically to gain attention or encourage others to link to the website. Google defines link bait as anything “interesting enough to catch people’s attention”.
SEO is much more difficult these days, but if you will make sure your content and links are always unique, relevant and natural then you will never be staring down the barrel of a member of Google’s spam team.
Quotes That Changed Link Building
Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s Spam team and the authority on changes implemented to Google search. Below are some statements he made recently that have changed the way many SEO Firms do SEO.
- “I wouldn’t worry about going ahead and *disavowing links even if you don’t have a message in your Webmaster console.”
- “Guest blogging is probably the sort of thing that you should be thinking about doing in moderation.”
- “You should always have a well-rounded portfolio of ways to get leads”
- “We’re probably not going to update PageRank throughout the rest of the year”
- “If there’s any site you don’t want to be associated with, you can just do a disavow”
- “Over time, we are going to give more and more information in those [Webmaster Tools] messages”
- “We’re working on becoming more transparent and giving more examples with [Reconsideration Request] messages as we can.”
- “Sometimes people think that Disavow is the be all and end all, the panacea that’s going to cure all their ills.”
- “If you don’t provide adequate disclosure of paid content, we’re willing to go up to and including removing the publication from Google News”
- “Typically, internal website links will not cause you any sort of trouble.”
- “If there is a link selling site and they get caught for selling links, and they just happen to be linking to you, the value of that link that the site was providing, it just goes away.”
- “It doesn’t hurt you if you use a 301.”
*Disavowing is a reference to a tool Google has available in Webmaster Tools for disavowing links that may be harmful. Note that in his statements, Matt basically confirms that the tool probably does not work.