Link Building In The Age Of The Penguin

If you’re blogging or doing any sort of marketing online you’ve no doubt learned that link building is of vital importance. However, the links you create must be the right type of links or you may be causing your site more harm than good.

What is link building?

Link building is also called backlink creation, or backlinking. The term refers to the development and implementation of a strategy whereby you create links on other sites that point to a page on yours. Back links can be be embedded in other websites or blogs, or can be added to directories or forums. Back-links can also be banner ads, or links included in online newsletters or ezines. Likewise, they can be anchor text links embedded in articles you’ve submitted to article directories, or anywhere else on the web, including within your own site.

Why is link building important?

There are two reasons why it’s important to develop a linking strategy:

  • The way people find things on the web is through links that point to a site that contains content of interest to them. This being the case, you need to have links salted throughout the web so there is a greater opportunity for people to find your site. Of course the best place to have your link appear is in the results returned by search engines. Over 80% of all website traffic is the result of a prior search using search engines or by searching content archives of some sort.
  • Back links are an important component of any SEO enhancement effort. Google determines the importance of a site by the number of other websites that link to it. This is called “Authority”, and can be either domain authority (DA) or page authority (PA). The latter relates to an individual page within a site. It used to be possible to purchase backlinks, exchange links, or simply make a blog or forum comment with your link included to have your site authority enhanced. Not so anymore!

Google algorithms now look at the quality backlinks. If the site your link is found on is of poor quality, your site will not only fail to gain authority, but it will likely be penalized but having its page rank reduced. Likewise, if you have links on your own site that point to poor quality sites that have already been penalized, your site will share in the penalizing as well.

What are algorithms?

Algorithms are programs written to perform specific functions. Algorithms control Google’s SE bots that continuously crawl the web, looking at each site they find and weight it against their programmed parameters.

There are two algorithms Google uses to sort out where sites should appear in the results returned for a specific search. These are the Penguin and Panda algorithms.

The Panda algorithm has its own set of parameters that look at page content and rank it accordingly. Panda looks at factors such as the ratio of ads to content, the amount of content, page layout, broken links, and so on. The Penguin algorithm looks at content factors too, but mostly in relationship to spamming of keywords, the number of anchor text links, quality of external links, quality of inbound links, and so on. Obviously Google does not make public what each algorithm does exactly, or how it does its job to thwart anyone trying to get around it’s page ranking system. But what is suggested here are the generally accepted functions of each.

The Penguin algorithm is the SE bot that is of most concern to anyone trying to develop an effective link building strategy. The Penguin algorithm will add a new site in Google’s SE database that is not already there. Both new additions to the database and revisited sites already indexed are assigned a page rank for keywords the bot found on each individual web page. This page rank determines where the individual page will appear among search engine results when the keyword is searched for. Penguin also looks at each external link it finds on a page and determines if it is a quality link or not. If the link points to a quality site, with relevant content, the site will likely benefit from an enhancement in page rank. On the other hand, if the link points to a poor quality site both the site the link was found on and the destination site may be penalized by having page rank downgraded.

The Penguin and Panda SE bots continuously crawl the web, revisiting websites in Google’s SE database. If links to sites that are not in the database are found, they’re indexed and ranked. Those previously indexed are again examined and ranked. If the site has improved or declined in quality according to the algorithm’s parameters, its ranking is adjusted accordingly. What this means is that a site with a high page rank can be downgraded at any time and visa verse. Thus a constant vigilance must be maintained to assure external and internal links continue to work, that links to and from your site remain relevant, that the link destinations remain quality sites, that no external links redirect traffic, and so on.

Developing a link building strategy.

Link building is more than just creating a backlink to your site wherever you can on the web. Where your link is placed is very important, both in helping get quality click through traffic, and in earning organic SE traffic for your site.

Obviously someone visiting a website searching for home electronics is unlikely to click on a link for garden sheds that is found among the links for TV’s and sound surround systems. As for search engine bots, finding such an off topic link is deemed to be equally useless. But when found by a SE bot, such a irrelevant link can be very damaging to your website. SE bots look at a site where a link is originating from, and weigh its relevance to the text surrounding it. In the event it is irrelevant, meaning off topic, the site the link points to is likely to be downgraded in page rank. This is also likely to be the fate of the site that has the link within it’s content.

Consider this… If your link is found on a site that’s of the same content niche as yours, it’s far more valuable than a link from a totally different topic. For example, if you sell items for children, a link on a site relating to car parts isn’t going to do you much good traffic wise. However, that same website linked to a daycare website, or blog about child care has the potential to generate targeted traffic that’s far more likely to convert to sales. Plus, Google’s Penguin algorithm would consider this to be a quality back link because of its relevance to the content surrounding it.

Types of Links for Link Building Strategies

There are only 4 types of links for your link building strategy. They are:

  • Internal – These are links pointing to different pages on your own site.
  • Organic – Links to your website that show up in the search results and that someone clicked on.
  • Incoming – A link embedded on a website somewhere on the web that points to your site.
  • Outbound – A link on your site that links to another site.

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