Contrary to what you may be reading on the forums, link building is not yet dead. That being said, link building shortcuts are! The easy days of automated link building tools and buying links from spammy networks are long gone and now this new era of SEO comes ushering in. Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming. Did you really think you would be able to continue dominating the SERPs by spinning and posting crap all over the internet? Or by using tools like Scrapebox, Xrumer and SEnuke to create 1000s of spammy links with the click of a button?
It doesn’t take a genius to look at your link footprint and determine the spamminess of your links so of course, a multi-billion dollar company like Google is going to figure it out. I’m actually surprised all this black-hat fun lasted as long as it did! I expected this sh*t to hit the fan years ago and that is why I wrote about these Penguin Friendly Link Building strategies before I even knew it would be called Penguin. Without further adieu, here are the new Penguin link building DOs and DONTs.
Penguin Link Building DOs and DONTs
Also, check out this Penguin Recovery Case Study where I analyze backlinks of a site that was negatively affected by the Penguin update.
Comment, Forum & Profile Links
They are still useful if done manually using a VPN service to change up IPs accordingly to profiles. No more spamming your way to success. Sorry guys, Scrapebox is still a very good tool and can still be helpful for scraping, harvesting and various other tasks but as far as posting goes, it’s useless at best and dangerous at worst. Xrumer, which can post tens of thousands of links on forums, is also dead and the same goes with auto-created profiles. These were the places where blackhat webspam ran rampant and even the black-hatters themselves will admit the world wide web is better off without it!
Put that spinner down. Claims have been made that Google is working feverishly to identify poorly spun content by matching it against their own internal synonyms database, but if you are going to continue to spin your content (which I don’t recommend) at least be clever enough to spin your links and anchor text too. Plus, don’t just spin words, spin whole sentences and phrases. I actually have a theory that it’s not necessarily the spun content but the way you submit the content that is getting people caught. See, when you have 25 to 50 articles being published in one day, all with very similar titles and similar content, all with links pointing at the same site, using the same anchor text, this tends to look a bit spammy. I stopped using spun content more than two years ago a future-proofing because I know one day Google (with the help of Copyscape) will retroactively punish violators but if you insist on doing it, at least upload your spun spam at different times and spread out over several months.
Buying Penguin Friendly Links
Buying links has changed in a few ways with the arrival of the new Penguin algorithms. Firstly, don’t buy links in the footer or on a links page because links in these areas are almost always going to be what Google considers Link Scheming or straight up paid links. Links in the header or sidebar can also be considered anti-Penguin because your average webmaster would never put an outbound link in these areas unless he/she was getting paid for it. Lastly, site-wide links like these, seem to leave a big footprint and also have a negative effect on your anchor text diversity. For example, if you have your link in the header of a site with thousands of pages, then you will have thousands of links coming from the same site all using the same exact anchor text and this dilutes your anchor text diversity. It’s much better to have 100 links on 100 different sites rather than 100 links from the same site. My advice for link buying is to try to get your link on just 1 page that is relevant, has good PR, within the <body> tag, within some written text on a site that already ranks within the first 10 pages for the keyword you are trying to target. These are called content-based links and are always going to be more Penguin friendly.
Building, buying, or acquiring links from networks can be risky as we learned with BuildMyRank.com’s little mishap. Their whole network of tens of thousands of aged sites was taken down in one fell swoop back in March of 2012. The trick with large networks is to not leave behind a footprint or anything that will allow the search engines to connect the dots. This just got a whole lot harder. Networks can be easily identified and exposed by looking at the registration details, IP addresses, identical scripts/code, central control tools, outbound linking footprints, inbound linking footprints and more. Then let’s say you followed all the guidelines and built the most perfect, undetectable network of sites, well then what are you going to do with it? You can’t sell links on it because the second you make it available to the public you’re going to get busted. Even trying to be sly and offering it on a black-hat forum is not discreet enough these days. Many speculate that Google detected most of these networks manually not algorithmically, meaning they had someone on the inside. You can bet your bottom dollar they have spies and informants in ever corner of the SEO community. It’s imperative for them to hunt down networks like these and take them out before they manipulate their way to the tops of the SERPs. The best way to build a network of sites is by manually treating each site as its own individual entity, each with a unique code, c-class IPs, content and no central control interface.
Internal Link Structure
Google loves internal links because it helps to index your site and efficiently distribute PageRank. Furthermore, it increases user activity and page views. Just as you see in Wikipedia, use keyword-rich anchor text to build a web of relevant internal links.
As I’ve been saying for years, outbound links will increase your visibility on the web and for many reasons. One, it adds credibility to your content increasing the quality score. Secondly, Google likes to crawl as much as possible and if you can provide a relevant link to a helpful resource and the user clicks-through and sticks, then Google will reward you for it. The rules are simple, do not link to any page or site that competes for the same type of traffic. Link only to high authority sites like .edu, .gov or any high PR site. For an example just look at my outbound links here.
Less is More
The lesson to learn is quality over quantity. I’ve spent countless hours looking at the backlinks of sites in different niches and surprisingly, I have been finding sites with fewer links outranking their competitors. In each one of these cases, the sites with fewer links also have higher quality links. Since I’m currently doing Adult SEO, One example is brittanysplace.com with only 98 links is now on the first page of Google for the keyword escorts outranking AdultSearch.com and Eros.com which both have hundreds of thousands of links. Just 1 relevant, well-placed link can have a greater effect than 1000 lower quality, poorly placed links.