As an experienced internet marketer, I am a big believer in “organic” backlink building and recommend staying away from paid link building as much as possible. Having been around for the aftermath of the Google Penguin algorithm update that “blacklisted” many websites virtually overnight, dropping their page rankings from the top of search to right off the search engine rankings because the owners were caught up in “black-hat” SEO backlink building techniques implemented by agencies interested in making a quick dollar.
The Early Days of the Backlinks
In the dawn of internet marketing it was like the Wild West, roughly 25 years ago a company called Google came up with the concept of a search engine. Their idea was simple, people would enter the term they were looking for and this term search (later to be known as the Keyword or Keyword Phrase) would return results in the form of website URLs that seemed most relevant for that term.
Example: if I were looking for a “red rubber ball” I would enter “red rubber ball” in the Google search and website’s selling “red rubber balls” would appear for me to look through.
It all sounded simple enough, if your website sold “red rubber balls” you just needed to practice good search engine optimization (SEO) through using proper keywords on your website and relevant content. We’ll save the discussion of keywords for another article.
As far as backlinks, a backlink is basically a referral where Website (A) puts a link to Website (B) on its website. There are different types of backlinks that we will discuss later in the article. Google liked seeing a website getting these “referrals” from other websites because it was a way to gauge if people thought that website was useful. The more backlinks your website was getting, it must obviously mean your website had a lot to offer Google search users.
In the early day the “white hat” SEO marketers would find websites that would share backlinks with each other or top directory websites to add backlinks to. Everyone was basically willing to share reciprocal links (later to be known as Do Follow links) because it benefited both the websites, but then along came the “Black-hats”.
The Change to Backlinks and the Birth of the No Follow Links
Now those (Do follow links) were considered given points by Google and the more points a website received the better their Page Ranking helping them go higher in the SERPs as a result. In the early days it wasn’t about a client’s search engine ranking, we had to help clients improve their Page Rankings.
At this point, unscrupulous SEO internet marketers, or as they would become known the “Black-hats” realized the more backlinks a website had the better their Page Ranking and the “Rush” was on to sell website owners into buying Backlink Building programs that would get their website backlinks on tons of websites, directories and comment boards were flooded with blog comments filled with SPAM links.
Hundreds of directory websites showed up overnight that had no rhyme or reason to them, we were competing with agencies that were promising pie-in-the-sky results that as a White-Hat Agency we just couldn’t compete with on that level.
Fortunately, those practices lasted relatively only a short while before Google initiated its algorithm programs which continue today as they work to stay ahead of the “Black-hats”. When Google initiated its early algorithms, we had former clients as well as new clients calling us because their websites had been “blacklisted” by Google. See Google doesn’t penalize your internet marketing person, they penalize your website. White-hat SEO is so boring, that I tell people that my biggest boast is that I have never had a website “blacklisted” by Google. If you’ve ever had your website “blacklisted” then you’ll understand. As a result of the algorithm changes, Google split backlinks and created the “No- Follow” link.
What is a No Follow Link?
A nofollow link is a link that does not count in the website page’s favor, so it does not boost its PageRank. The no follow link was an answer to reducing SPAM.
The necessity of the nofollow link has found a place in blogs and forums since most SEO spammers won’t bother posting irrelevant links to blogs or forum posts if they know they won’t get to publish a follow link. While some blog comment spam still happens, no follow cuts down on it.
Where “no follow” is also widely practiced
Paid links (no more paying for links to your website and increased PageRank)
And if Google identifies it as “Untrusted” content
No follow links still have their place in your internet marketing plan
Just because they don’t provide SEO link value doesn’t mean no follow links are worthless. No follow links still provide valuable referral traffic.
A well-placed blog comment or a relevant forum post, no follow or not, can send a huge amount of traffic to your site, which then can funnel down to leads and conversions!
Besides, search engines today are looking at a lot of factors outside of link juice and PageRank. Social signals like those from Twitter and Facebook are increasingly valuable, despite being no follow. The key is to build your brand – don’t think of what links are good for SEO, but instead think what links are good for your business, your brand, and what links can help establish you as an industry authority. Remember that links, no follow or not, build trust.
What Are Considered Good Backlinks for Your Website
Any backlink that comes naturally to your website from a relevant and authoritative source is coming “organically”, this type of “organic link building” is one of the best ways to get better search engine results because the search engine can see the relationship between the websites.
If you are selling “red rubber balls” you want to be sharing with a sporting goods website not a bakery website.
However, organic link building is also the toughest and most time-consuming way of generating backlinks because you are building relationships. That is why many “black-hat” marketing companies try to sell website owners on SPAMY link building programs.
Editorial backlinks are another good backlink that are created when what Google considers a credible source references your website creating a link back to your website from their journal, blog or website. You may not even know that they are referencing you in their piece.
Relationship based backlinks are another form of backlink where Google can see that there is a connection between the website. The Owned by Vets network is working to do this with our Veteran business owner members. There is a common relationship that connects the group of Veteran business owners and as the network groups hopefully Google rewards the members within the group.
Guest blogging is still a very genuine way to generate high-quality backlinks, the Owned by Vets blog is available for members to post original content like company bios or original articles (not sales material) from their websites or blogs by contacting us. Google has cracked down hard on guest posting websites that were using this technique just for creating backlinks, instead of providing genuine value to readers. That is why we want to provide quality content.
Local directories, especially when it comes to SEO, can be a good source for backlinks, but even directory listing websites have created their own niche market, DLM (directory listing management) and you are now hit with salespeople who want you to Pay to make sure your address is updated correctly on such websites as. Yelp, Yellow Pages, City Search etc.
The best advice for new business owners is to make sure your Google and Bing Places Listings are correct as well as your Facebook business page. The directory websites will populate your listing on their website from these main sources and if they are incorrect, you will be charged later on to have them fixed.
What are Some Types of Bad Backlinks to Look Out For
If someone offers to sell you back links Run!! Paid Links, even if it is on a very small scale, buying back links is still a horrible idea that you must avoid at all costs. Google’s algorithms can easily identify paid links. Your website will at the least get no credit or worse be penalized for buying links as part of a network.
Spamming the comments section of blog posts, “black-hat” link builders will send out comment spammers to create thousands of backlinks with comment spam, but it is not going to help website owners in any way possible it just looks impressive on a report.
These days most backlinks coming from the comment sections are no-follow, or comments are turned off all together based on the nature of the blog because too much Spam gets annoying and often leads to a report to Google.
General Directories are mostly irrelevant in the eyes of the search engines and should be avoided because they usually charge the user a fee to be on their website or they are loaded with advertising. Also does the directory website you’re considering allow for “do follow” links or are you just adding to their PageRank? Google’s “bots” are able to tell what a directory website is up to.
The Owned by Vets general directory is a “do follow” directory that offers Veteran business owner members a backlink to their website or blog at no cost which do not fall into the general directory trap.
Backlinks from Irrelevant Websites
After the early Google algorithm Penguin update, backlinks coming from websites that had no connection to your website basically got your website a negative score, too many negative backlinks and you were “blacklisted” as we discussed previously.
Backlinks are important. They make your website more credible and authoritative in the eyes of search engines and propel your web pages higher in the SERPs.
If you are going to hire a company to build you backlinks, get a list of the sources they will use before they start. You want to see how your website relates to the one’s they are promising to list you one.
If you are selling those “red rubber balls” you don’t want to be on a bakery website.
The Best Way to Get Follow Links
Even though I’m old-school about Backlink building, having backlinks associated with your website is still important regardless of their no follow/do follow status. While running your online business you are bound to create both follow and no follow links organically by creating original content that gets shared and linked to naturally.
Other ways to create links include guest blogging, especially on a site relevant to your own so that you can build referral traffic in addition to getting an SEO boost.
Ultimately you want a balance of do follow and no follow backlinks for your website just don’t blow your budget of backlink builders promising you the moon.
As a website owner, before you begin any type of online program to build traffic or increase your search engine rankings Do Your Homework, weigh the costs and benefits! And remember the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare.