Are You Participating In ‘Link Schemes’? BEWARE!

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Your immediate answer to this question will mostly likely be an unqualified NO!  Think again.

You (or your SEO agency) may -inadvertently- be violating Google’s strict  updated guidelines on link building.

Google recently updated its “link schemes” guidelines to make it even harder for SEOs to achieve ranking via artificial means.

According to Google, “Link Schemes” are:

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

Google provides the following examples as “link schemes”:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site

In a nutshell, Google considers any links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner a violation of their guidelines.

Examples of links that violate Google’s guidelines include:

  • Text advertisements that pass PageRank
  • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
  • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites. For example:
    There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.
  • Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
  • Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example:
    Visitors to this page: 1,472
    car insurance
  • Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites
  • Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example: Thanks, that’s great info!
    dubai pizza best pizza dubai

Google encourages site owners to do the following  to prevent passing unnatural “PageRank” to their sites

  • Add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag
  • Redirect the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

Content for Links

At Sandstorm, we firmly believe that  the best way to achieve natural,  high quality, relevant links is via great content.  We believe that any brand, no matter the industry, is capable of producing interesting, relevant and authoritative content that can naturally attract links.

This is why content marketing is built into our SEO offering.

Before we produce a link building strategy we create a content plan and an editorial calendar aimed at boosting the brand’s authority, popularity and natural backlink profile.

Want to learn more? Contact us.

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Omar is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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