As I went through my SEO checklist I made a chilling discovery – somebody had seriously messed up the chances for Danny’s website to show up on the first page of Google’s search results. Danny was unaware that there was anything unusual going on with his website – except of course that he wasn’t getting any leads or inquiries from it. He thought the problem was that he just wasn’t getting enough traffic to his website. What I discovered was that someone had committed the abominable sin of SEO link building and unless this was corrected, it would invalidate everything Danny was working to accomplish online. Let’s look at how not to build links for SEO. Save yourself time, money, and heartache by avoiding this mistake.
SEO Link Popularity
One of the big factors that Google looks at to determine which website should show up at the top of the search results is page popularity. Although this is a bit simplistic, you can think of page popularity as a popularity contest where each link pointing to a page on your website is a vote for your website. The more websites and web pages that link to your website, the more popular your website, at least in terms of inbound links.
In general, the more websites that link to your website the better – if they’re legit that is. You see, Google not only pays attention to how many webpages link to your site, it also pays attention to who is linking to your site. When folks forget this, they do things that run afoul of SEO best practices and sooner or later they regret it.
Credible by Association
When it comes to SEO link building, Google and the other search engines pay very close attention to who is linking to you. A website has a reputation based upon who links to it, who it links to, and a variety of other factors. In other words, you are associated with the websites that link to you. This means that instead of focusing only on the number of links that you can get to point to your website, you need to focus on links that are coming from websites that you want to be associated with. This is where some make a huge mistake – they focus only on the number of links that they can get pointing to their website and ignore where those links are coming from.
Danny’s small professional practice website had links coming to it from over five thousand other websites from all over the world. Most of those websites could be classified as spammy or sketchy at best – definitely not the kind of thing that Danny wanted to be associated with. As it turned out, the original web designer hired someone to do some SEO for the website. A few weeks and several hundred bucks later, Danny’s website now had thousands of purchased spammy links pointing to his website. Although Danny had no idea that the people he trusted to help him build his site were buying links, he is still in a bind with Google. Fortunately for Danny, there are ways to clean up the mess.
Google Disavow Tool
As it turns out, Danny’s situation is fairly common. Common enough in fact that Google created a tool to help website owners clean up the mess left behind after engaging in un-natural link building schemes. You see Google is good at spotting un-natural links and penalizes websites who have too many of them. Enter Google Disavow Tool. This is a tool that website owners can use to disavow links coming in to their website. Theoretically Google will stop penalizing websites for spammy links if those links have been disavowed.
The phrase “guilty by association” certainly applies when it comes to SEO link building. Link building done right is about increasing quality links to your website that will stand the test of time and help you get a higher ranking in Google search results.