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Link Schemes - Con Games that Fail in the Long-Run - Way Back Wednesday #5

Adrian Bredeson
by Adrian Bredeson on Jul 13, 2011 8:52:00 AM


Search results are greatly impacted by the number of links to your Website. Search engines reward Websites that have a high number of quality links from topically relevant Websites pointing to them. Each link acts as a vote of confidence in the eyes of the search engines, making your site appear relevant, trustworthy and valuable.

While we know inbound links are important, how you establish those links may be more important. Too often we have seen clients come in who have worked with other SEO firms in the past that have gotten them involved in unethical link schemes. One client was told "It doesn't matter where the links are from, as long as there are a lot of them." In today's search marketing landscape, that's just not the case. While search engines used to value quantity over quality, upgraded technology and a focus on the user experience has changed that. Link schemes can include:

  • Gathering links from "bad neighborhoods" across the Internet
  • Reciprocal link schemes that result in an extreme number of irrelevant links
  • Paid linking schemes to pass PageRank

While these schemes may provide fast links, they won't provide lasting results. They may even hurt your site visibility in the long run. In fact, linking schemes are in direct violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines, which can result in your site getting banned from the search engine or buried in search results. Creating a large number of links through these link schemes isn't the way to succeed on today's search engines.

So how should Websites develop quality links that search engines will reward? It's about writing original, informative, relevant content, then promoting it. Create content that other Websites will WANT to link to! Establish yourself as an industry resource by publishing the kind of material that other Websites will choose to link with. Create the kind of content that your target audience will find beneficial. Other Websites will recognize that and create links back to your Website.

Links from relevant, quality Website benefits you in the following ways:

  • No penalty from the search engines for honest, relevant links.
  • The people coming to your site will be more likely to be your target audience.
  • Visitors will be following the links, bringing more traffic to your Website.

Pay attention to who is linking to you, and what pages of your Website are receiving the most links. Optimize those pages to reap the most benefit out of the traffic being driven to your site from relevant Websites. Here's how:

  • Include a call to action.
  • Utilize easy-to-use navigation so that new visitors can easily explore the rest of your Website.
  • Be sure the page's Meta Data is page-specific and optimized.
  • Check for broken links that could confuse or annoy visitors.
  • Link to other pages on your Website from within the text.
  • Include as much relevant, informative content as possible.
  • Include your contact information, or make sure it is easy to find.

Link building is a vital part of Search Engine Optimization. However manipulative link schemes are not. Don't trust an SEO firm that promises big time results through paid links or massive free directories. Focus on improving your Website for the users, and other quality, relevant Websites will choose to link to you. Search engines can tell the difference between link schemes and ethical link building. Make sure you can too. Take a quality over quantity approach to link building and you'll enjoy long-term search visibility without worrying about getting penalized.

We want to hear from you! Do you have questions or comments on link schemes? Have you fallen victim to Google's penalties? Need more tips on establishing quality links? Follow the @EPowerMarketing Twitter account and use the #WayBackSEM hashtag to get in on the discussion or ask our team your questions right now!

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Adrian Bredeson
Written by Adrian Bredeson
As Director, SEO and Social Media at E-Power Marketing, Adrian is primarily focused on the organic success of client programs through SEO, social media and content marketing. Adrian also heads up the agency's marketing initiatives. With a background in psychology and PR, her passion for telling a brand's story by understanding and engaging with their target audiences has been put to good use at E-Power!

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