As part of Google’s continued effort to crack down on international spam, its Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts has announced that the search engine giant has taken action on two Polish link networks
Declaring the news on Twitter, Cutts did not specify which networks had been targeted but emphasised Google’s take-no-prisoners approach to unnatural linking by issuing a reminder blog post on the linking rules outlined in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and the consequences of violating them:
The blog post, published on the Polish language site ‘Google Blog Poland’, also describes the action that webmasters can take if they find themselves penalised for artificial linking.
In the wake of the revelation, websites affiliated with the two link networks can expect to experience a severe drop in rankings and affected webmasters will likely receive Google penalty notifications in the near future.
Cutts’ mentioning not being ‘done with Germany yet’ is a reference to action taken by Google on a German agency’s link networks earlier in February – news he also chose to share with his 320,000+ Twitter followers:
The activity in Germany was preceded by the shutdown of the French link network, Buzzea, for contravening Google’s quality guidelines back in January:
So, the message is clear: Google will not tolerate unnatural linking and will come down hard on anyone failing to comply with its commandments. And, as a webmaster, there are many reasons to rejoice.
Why Google is right about linking
Everyone hates a queue jumper. If you’d like to test this theory, stand in line outside any club on a Saturday night and try to pay your way to the front. If you don’t want to fork out the cash, why not ask your fellow queuers to vouch for you? Ask that well-coiffed stranger in the designer shoes to tell the doorman how great you are and the reasons you deserve to be first in line. It won’t fly. And, as penalised webmasters the world over can attest, it won’t fly with Google either.
Google unleashed the Panda algorithm update for a reason – to improve the experiences of its users. By suppressing websites using dodgy linking techniques to manipulate their search engine results page rankings, websites that use honest, ‘white-hat’ linking methods are allowed to make their way to where they deserve to be – at the front of the queue.
If you are growing quality, organic links, you do not need to resort to paying off strangers or wasting time trying to trick a set of algorithms into giving your website a high ranking in search engine results pages.
You need to remember that quick fixes are just that. If you have climbed your way to the top of the search engine results pages by participating in link networks or using other such illicit tactics, you’re balancing on a ladder that will not withstand Google’s shake. With each Google algorithm update, it will get flimsier and sooner or later, you – and your website – will fall.
Organic linking is about sustainability. It’s about building your brand’s reputation in the marketplace. It’s about paying attention to the man or woman tapping keywords into their computer, tablet or mobile phone in the hope of finding what you’re offering. It’s about putting serious thought into how you can earn their trust and their hard-earned cash. To do this, you must figure out how you can get your brand on their screens in as natural a way as possible.
‘Outreach’ is the word on every digital marketer’s lips at the moment. The outreach process involves building meaningful and symbiotic relationships with key online influencers in your specialism. Once a relationship has been established, you can present your new connections with tailored content that their audience will find interesting in the hope that they will feature it on their website as a guest blog post or share it on social media.
Outreach can help you to:
- grow quality organic links
- get your content shared online
- build sustainable relationships
- share ideas and knowledge with thought leaders in your industry
- build your reputation as an authority in your industry
- improve your content’s ranking in search engine results pages
The outreach method, when carried out properly, will result in you earning a link from a relevant and trusted third party website back to your own and your content being seen and shared by your target audience. In today’s market, outreach is an essential part of an effective, long-term linking strategy. You may find the process time-consuming and slow-burning compared to the linking strategies of yore but the rewards are cumulative and enduring.
Stop climbing ladders, start growing grapevines
Many webmasters will have dabbled in the dark arts of black-hat SEO. Not long ago, methods such as link exchanges, link networks and paid links were common practice and could secure you a coveted place on the first pages of Google’s search results.
With those days behind us, you may be wondering if all hope is lost for you and your website. The answer is simple: no. If you want to grow your business through white-hat methods, such as outreach, it is not too late to clean up your act.
Some webmasters may not even be aware that they have been participating in illicit linking if they have engaged a digital agency to work on their search engine optimisation (SEO). Consequently, it is wise for any webmaster to get a handle on the procedures that need to be followed to remove toxic or suspicious links and submit requests for reconsideration to Google.
In cleaning up your act, firstly you will need to clean up your website. You can do this by analysing your backlink profile to identify which links are damaging your reputation in Google’s eyes.
It is important to follow the correct procedures according to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in contacting the websites that are pointing unhealthy links at your website and asking for the links to be removed or de-optimised.
If you are unable to contact a website, you must add them to a Google Disavow file and detail your attempts to contact the webmaster.
Once your website has been cleansed of problematic links, you can submit a request for reconsideration to Google.
If you have followed Google’s rules and your request is approved, you will eventually be able to get rid of that rickety ladder and get to work on cultivating natural, strong links that will climb like grapevines.