Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation. –Max Euwe
Max Euwe may have been a chess grandmaster, but the maxim he coined for the difference between strategy and tactics is more than apt when discussing the ever evolving strategy used by Google for devaluing SEO link building tactics. Google, the strategist, is always thinking of and considering new ways for which they can provide the most accurate and informative SERPs to their users. Meanwhile SEOs, the tacticians, must cautiously wait, watch, and observe for exactly what Google will deem as “link schemes.” This list of schemes has been steadily growing over the years, and has recently received a few new violations which were added to its guidelines.
New Link Violation Guidelines
The new link violation guidelines which were recently added are as follows:
- Large-scale article marketing and guest blogging campaigns which target keyword-rich anchor text links.
- Advertorials which receive links that pass PageRank.
- Optimized anchor text links in guest blogs or off-site press releases.
It is becoming clearer by the day that Google does not like exact match, keyword rich, anchor text links. They have been steadily trying to take value away from its overuse to dissuade marketers from abusing what should be considered a simple “reference” online. By now it’s relatively apparent that many inbound links received by websites are indeed advertorials, at least in the sense of guest blogging.
This exchange consists of trading content for links, and while this seems simple and innocent enough, when you consider that a link is supposed to be a “reference”, it becomes quite apparent how that then becomes terribly skewed in the eyes of search engines. When you pay for a “reference,” it becomes an advertisement, which is then no longer a reference. Problem being, these links are still posed as references. This both misleads readers and confuses search engines results, and is the reason for these new link violation guidelines.
What Can Be Done
Now what this is not saying is that inbound links themselves are to be devalued overall, only inbound links that fall under their list of “link schemes.” The total penalty for engaging in a link scheme is dependent on the scheme itself, and its overall scope. In the end, when it comes to inbound links, Google wants them to be honest references, not advertorials. If it is an advertorial, that’s ok. Just let it be known. The worth of the content, if it’s good, isn’t taken away by the fact that it’s a marketing piece. In fact, if it’s worthwhile, it may even be more appreciated.
So what does this mean for people doing SEO? In all honesty, it doesn’t change much, except rather than scrapping 4 terrible guest blog articles together sourced to numerous low DA or PageRanked sites, you should be doing what is the honest approach. Writing quality content that provides a “real” value to readers. Naturally, if the content is good enough and you have used social media well enough to promote the piece, sites related to your field will find it and link to it.
If guest blogging is necessary to help build up your inbound link profile, simply don’t try to trick readers by failing to state who the article was written on behalf of. Don’t’ try to unnaturally inflate your rankings by using exact match, keyword rich, anchor text links. Use your company/website name, use the intended URL. This is all Google, and any search engine for that matter, is asking for. Less spam would be welcome by everyone on the internet. Sifting through heaps of trash sites to finally find one worth viewing used to be worse, and is getting better. But to help it along, we all have to do our part.
People often rag on Google for trying to be the “internet police.” But the internet is like the wild west, and in the wild west, those who cared most for their towns, and were able, stepped up to become sheriff. They were never appointed, people hated them for trying to instill law and order where there was once chaos, and some listened to them while others ignored their advice. Google is “not” the internet police, but they are trying to create order amongst the chaos.
Many people don’t like it, even though they know it’s necessary. So for all of you internet black-hat red-sash wearing cowboys out there, you would do well to remember the movie Tombstone. Order is being instilled, and to the general pleasure of most people who use the internet. If you continue to cause a ruckus, Google will find you, remove your black-hat, strip you of your red-sash, and devalue you with a rage previously unknown. For all you black-hat tacticians, Google is quite literally… your strategic huckleberry.
If you need help link building or coming up with a proper link building strategy, be sure to Contact Us today. Our in-house SEO experts have the knowledge and ability to help with the most difficult problems regarding link building and SEO.