educational

The Case for Natural Link Building

Stephen Yagielowicz

Linking between websites is the foundation of the Internet and an arena fraught with fraud and deception as quick buck artists seek an unfair competitive advantage, tainting a process that might otherwise be seen as legitimate “vote” for a site’s quality, significance, or value.

Consider a one-way link, where a news story or article either recommends a product or service or uses it in an illustrative manner: the site being linked to has to have a certain value for it to be selected as an example from what is likely many competitors.

Despite the high hopes of users and the promises of promoters, link spinning and plug trading services are exactly the type of “unnatural linking” that Google is frowning upon.

That link thus has value, especially when it comes via a trusted source.

Now contemplate the common practice of reciprocal linking, where two or more sites trade links between themselves, such as when blogs exchange links, or on submitted TGP galleries and the like, through review sites and more — any source of traffic where a link to your site is dependent on a link back to their site. Such a “win-win” exchange cannot be unbiased by its nature — and “unbiased” is the utopian referral search engines seek…

Multiple site exchanges, such as A-B-C linking, where site A links to site B, which links to site C, which links back to A, in an effort to obfuscate the actual A to B exchange is not as transparent to the search engines as you might imagine, but moderation and extra steps in the multisite washing process may lend a hand, while spurring the rise of smaller internal networks not intended for search engine indexing, but mainly for traffic cleaning.

Google is serious about penalizing what it calls unnatural links to and from websites, which became obvious during last year’s Panda and Penguin purges that highlighted the weaknesses inherent in paid and swapped traffic services — a practice that the company has warned against for years, but which is common in both adult and mainstream circles.

As part of this process, Google seeks out “a pattern of unnatural, artificial, deceptive or manipulative outbound [or inbound] links,” which may result from buying or selling links to pass PageRank “or participating in link schemes” (such as link trading).

Despite the high hopes of users and the promises of promoters, link spinning and plug trading services are exactly the type of “unnatural linking” that Google is frowning upon — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that such services and techniques should be avoided.

Of course, a focus on attracting high quality, natural links is infinitely preferable but much more work a shortcut that is no longer beneficial and indeed can render your site useless from a search marketing perspective.

For those willing to put in the effort in exchange for the rewards, however, there are a variety of techniques for natural link building.

One method is to seek out editorial coverage for your product or service, such as an article mention or press release appearing in one of XBIZ’ family of trade publications or other relevant media, which can lead to re-coverage by other media outlets and a wave of high quality inbound links.

According to linking expert Ken McGaffin, “innovation” is a magnet to journalists, but only way to generate interest in your story.

“There’s passion in any business, small or large,” McGaffin added. “Tap into that passion and you can turn it into a rich source of great content.”

While bad linking habits can provide a knockout blow to your website, good linking strategies can provide even more benefit than before; as waves of competitive spam sites disappear from search listings — making a clean link building process a worthwhile task.

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