The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Website Links

July 22, 2015

By July 22, 2015insights

Do you roll around in bed at night thinking about how to properly link your content to your website? Are your dreams haunted with visions of Matt Cutts YouTube videos?

Ever since the introduction of the Google Penguin updates to the search algorithm a few years ago, many search engine marketers have felt a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about how to create links properly back to their website. In this article we discuss some of the ways to do so in a qualitative manner that will not have you running for cover from Google.

That is why we broke everything down into the good, the bad, and the ugly linking schemes. Know what you can and cannot do ahead of time.

The Good Links

Quality Guest Posting- Matt Cutts declared guest posting was dead two years ago. While his reaction was a bit over the top, he had a point…somewhat. Guest blogging had become the latest craze in the hunt for quality backlinks for search engine traffic. While the idea that you should not just guest post everywhere to get loads of search traffic has been made abundantly clear, what brings up a lot of FUD is that quality posting is still legit. Yet, some bloggers feel they will get knocked for doing this.

The truth is that the quality of the content determines whether the article can be useful to your search engine traffic.

If you want long-term growth from search engines then focus  on creating great content for the right audiences. In essence, financial writers should not look to get published in blogs about flowers and flower bloggers should not write financial pieces. To get a good idea of what to do, check out how the biggest and best blogs in the world use guest bloggers for their content. Take CopyBlogger and Moz.Com. Both blogs rely seriously upon their content marketing.  Both have stated emphatically that they plan to continue using guest writers, because they provide additional quality to the site.

Resource links- Additionally, relevant resource links are a great source of linking between sites. The key here is relevant resources. For example, if you own a lawn care maintenance company then linking to lawn products or other resources is acceptable. Linking to a law firm is a clear violation of Google linking policy. Pay Flynn from Smart Passive Income is a great example of how to create a relevant resources page.

Natural referral links- A great article references and documents their sources. The best way to do that online is to link back to the original source. Take the KISSmetrics post below. In this small snippet from a blog post, they reference four different sites. These are just four among 30-40 links referenced in the blog post.

These links are natural and helpful to readers looking to learn more about the topic.

The Bad Links

Directory links- While not all directory links are bad, many have been banned or penalized by Google. Take the directory below. It specifically states on the home page that they make “your business stand out in places like Google. Be found by customers looking for what you do.” However, that is exactly what you do not want in a directory provider. Directories should help you be found on their directory, not on Google.

The Ugly

Blog/forum commenting- Here is another action that by itself is not bad. Commenting on a blog post that you like can be very good for building a relationship. So can quality, informative forum posts.

The challenge is when you create blog comments like the ones below that are clearly designed to bring in search traffic. A few years ago, the internet was awash in robotic comment systems created specifically for the sole purpose to bring in backlinks from other sites. The quality of the site did not matter. What did matter was having as many links as possible. Unfortunately, robotic comment systems ruined blog commenting for the rest of us. That is why it was hit so hard by Google during the Panda and Penguin updates. Definitely an ugly linking strategy.

If you do want to use this as a natural traffic sources, here are two guidelines you can use. First, only create comments on blogs or forums if the conversation is relevant to your brand, product, or industry. Otherwise, do not use that as an opportunity to grow your business.

Second, when you do comment make sure that you create thoughtful comments. Do not just reply with a one sentence zinger like, “Yeah! I agree.” Tell people why you agree or don’t agree. Then back it up with facts and resources.

Forums and blog commenting can be tremendous tools to build your business. Ask Ryan Biddulph. He built his entire blog based on commenting on other bloggers’ posts. However, he did it the right way.

Final Thoughts

Having links across the internet that go back to your site can be a great strategy for you to build your business. After all, Google still wants you to have a good linking strategy to determine the value of your website to users.

The key here is to not focus on link building as a strategy to build your search traffic, although it will help your SEO. Instead, use your linking strategy to build traffic from referral sources across the web.

By doing this, good search engine traffic will be a natural result of this process. Let us know in the comments below what your thoughts are about the changes to good linking strategy. How do you properly get links to your business?