Link Building Strategies After Penguin 2.0

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Note: This article does not discusses internal linking. It only discusses external linking i.e… links from other websites to your website. While internal linking (links from one page of your website to another page) helps the search engines to crawl the pages easily, external links help significantly to determine “votes” for your site. The more votes the better ranks.

The most important factor in search engine rankings after content is the link profile of your website – internal as well as external. Content and external links alone are more important than all of the other factors combined that determines the rank of a website in the search results pages.

Which means if you focus most of your time in writing good content and get quality links from good websites online, you should see your websites getting top ranks in the search results. Of course if your niche is NOT very competitive your website may rank well even without any links pointing to your site. But otherwise if there is good competition for the keywords you are targeting, its very important that you acquire links for your site from sites relevant to the topic of your site/page and from good quality websites only.

IMP: If you buy links you are fine till you are caught. And this is what exactly Penguin 2.0 has done.

Before proceeding forward lets first understand what changes Penguin 2.0 algorithm of Google did to the ranking of websites.

Small note: Before the Penguin update, there was Panda update. Panda update targeted sites with low quality / spammy / rehashed / copied / scrapped / automated generated content. Panda update destroyed the ranks of the websites who used such low quality content. A website with even a few pages of bad content was pushed down the rankings.

Results: All the websites with low quality content have virtually vanished from the top 30-40 search results. In fact I don’t see them in the search results anymore.

Now lets discuss what Penguin did to the sites:

– Network of all artificially link building companies were de-indexed from Google. This effectively means that if you were buying links for your websites from one of these networks, the links were no more effective and did not count towards links to your site.

– Paid links were identified and again discounted. Sites buying paid links and to some extend sites selling paid links were penalized.

– Any links made to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results was totally discounted as a link.

– Link exchanges like a->b->a, a->b->c->a, or any other types were identified and the links discounted.

– Too many keyword only anchor text links were discounted.

– Any method of link building to inflate rankings were identified and discounted.

– Websites found participating excessively in all or any of the above were penalized and webmasters informed in the webmasters tool.

Conclusion – Penguin has destroyed easy link building strategies. So does it mean link building is dead? No, it still works and works well. But shady and easy ways of getting links are gone. Sooner or later your website will be caught and banned from ranking in the SERPs if you are still getting shady links.

So are there any ways to get quality back links from good websites to get the high rankings? Of course there are but you need to be patient. Real links come less often but bring in more value which lasts longer.

Here are some link building strategies that may help you to get genuine links that will help your site in getting top ranks:

1. Never cloak links for the bots of Google or Yahoo. If you cloak (sending different bots to different pages), eventually it may get caught and your site may be banned.

2. Do not follow page ranks of the site from where you want to get links. Page ranks are updated rarely. So the rank that you are seeing may be very old and not the real ones. You may be unnecessary chasing a bad page to get links.

3. All links are not equal. Some pages or websites are regularly crawled and indexed by Google. These are the websites that are given more value by Google. This also means that links from these pages carry more value that links from other websites that are crawled say once a month.

Please note that there is a time delay between crawling and indexing. Crawling means Google has downloaded the page into its servers and indexing means Google has indexed the page to be shown in the search results pages. Some websites takes months to get indexed and some few hours. For example news websites gets crawled and indexed in seconds, while a blog started by an unknown person may take months to be crawled and indexed.

To know when Google crawled a page is to go to Google and see the cached page. Google will show that date it was crawled.

If you notice the search results pages, you will see that Google shows the dates of the pages indexed. Its almost always better to target pages for links which were crawled and indexed recently. These will carry more weight than links from pages that were crawled and indexed months or years back.

4. Get links from niche directories: Quality directories like Yahoo Directory and DMOZ have tremendous weight in Google rankings. Yahoo is paid but it is still worth to get a link from their directory.

DMOZ is run by volunteers and it may take months before your website is included in their directory.

5. Youtube: This one is easy. Create a video of what your website does and upload it to youtube. Then write a description with a link to your website. How easy is that. But a word of caution – do not make a bad or unprofessional video. You will do more harm than good to your website in the long run. You are just not doing it for getting a link, you may get visitors from Youtube and you don’t want them to have a bad impression on your company.

6. Get links from quality websites: Google has made this easier for you. Just search in Google the keywords that you are targeting. Google will display a list of websites. The top 40-50 websites are what you need to target. If Google thinks these are the top websites for that keyword, then they are really good websites to get links. Remember getting links from related websites is important.

Visit these websites. Find their contact address and write on a notepad. Then write an email to every webmaster asking them to link to your site because their visitors may find your site good. Not every webmaster will give a link. But even if 10% give a link, you should be good. It also depends on how good your site is. If they think their visitors will benefit by visiting your website they may give a link. But frankly do not expect a lot of links through this route. People now a days fear to give links (or even get linked to their websites). One bad incoming link may trigger SPAM flag at Google and the website may be in trouble.

7. Google hates paid links. Never ever think of paying any website owner to get a link. Asking for a natural link because it will benefit their visitors is OK, but not a paid link even if useful.

Matt cutts the head of Google SPAM team recently released a video explaining how Google determines paid link. Watch the video to know more about it.

If you don’t want to see the video then you can read about it at

8. You can outsource link building: This one is a bit tricky. Big companies with big fat wallets do exactly this and it is OK in the eyes of Google because they are big companies. But we are small fish in a large ocean. We need to be careful. You can of course out source link building but you need to be careful. Ask the company you are outsourcing link building that how are they going to give your site links? If you are satisfied with the answers, if it adheres to all the rules laid down by Google on link building then please go ahead and pay for their services. Else you are better off trying link building on your own. But frankly the good ones are really costly. If a company is offering link building services for peanuts, stay away. They will only offer SPAM, auto generated, forum profiles or trash links. You will get your website banned.

9. Disavow Links: If you find some suspicious links to your website that you never asked for and if they look like SPAM, you should Disavow them in your webmaster account. But be careful with this tool. You do not want to block the good links coming to your site that give your site a boost in the ranking. I have seen webmaster Disavowing 100% of the links to their site when they panic seeing a drop in their sites ranking.

This could be a temporary ranking shuffle by Google, and you may get panic and Disavow all links. That is certainly a bad idea. If you are absolutely sure the link source is a SPAM, you should Disavow them.

Never Disavow links that are nofollowed. You are unnecessary working hard. All links of pages in Disavow will be treated as nofollowed.

10. Press Releases: if you are launching a product, press releases also help in getting traffic, spread the word around the web and get some links too. But do a press release if absolutely required. You should not do it to get links. It may not help.

You may also be interested in reading Best Link Building Practices 2013 and Beyond.

Recommended Readings:

Getting Links From Related Websites is Important

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In my previous article I had written links from high PR sites are not important any more. So links from which pages are important today to rank higher? It is links from related websites in same or related business.

For example if a lot of websites about financial products link to your website that sells something other than financial products – Google will still think your website is selling some financial products or giving information on finance. However if Google does not find anything on finance on your website it will be sent for a review. This is where a check for SPAM will take place. A manual check will decide your website for SPAM. If your website is fine all the irrelevant links will not be counted as incoming links.

This is to make sure Google does not throw irrelevant results in its SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Pages).

If however your website does sell anything financial or has information on financial products, your website will get good ranks in the search results.

Therefor it is important than ever to check if your site is getting links from related websites. Page rank should not be your concern.

It is important to note that even the Anchor Text used in the links are not that important. Well if its used its fine, but Google will give more importance to the content of the page rather than the anchor text. So even if your site gets a link from a similar business website with the anchor text “click here”, that is a great link and it will have value.

Lets take another example:

If Website1, Website2, Website3, & Website4 do not link to each other, but they still get links from a group of websites that have information on dogs and breeds of dogs, Google will think Website1, Website2, Website3, & Website4 to be related and in the business of dogs and breeds of dogs. It does not matter if the websites that linked to them used the anchor text related to dogs or not. Google will still think that website to be in the same business.

The only exception being if those links are discarded by Google.

Gone are the days when people bought links for cheap with their primary keyword used as anchor text in them. Yes their site ranked well for a few days. Some lucky ones lasted for months if not years. Eventually they were kicked out. But now it seems all these tricks will have zero results.

Best Link Building Practices 2013 and Beyond

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Most webmasters think that it is the number of incoming links that matter, not from where it is coming – the more the better. Well it could be true a couple of years back, but no more – especially after the Penguin update.

For Google the source of the link is very important. If you get thousands of links from spammy websites it will do no good to your website’s ranking. In fact due to the latest update you website may get banned or may be lowered in rankings.

Why is this?

Ok lets go back a few years. If you are new in the SEO field, you may not know, but those in this industry since the last 4-5 years know this. There were many so called spammy link building companies who owned a network of websites. The idea was simple – to sell links and generate income – month after month.

What they did was simple. They had wordpress installed in every website they had. They also employed a few low quality writers obviously with low pay. (Some didn’t even employ writers – they just used software to spin articles.) And the rest you can easily guess. These low quality articles were linked to the clients’ website with the desired anchor text and uploaded to the thousands of websites these networks owned. And voila – within a few weeks (after Google indexed those pages), the clients website started to rank well.

Simple isn’t it? So why did it take Google so many years to take action against these networks? The problem was these networks were hidden. They owned several servers, with different IPs, in different countries, you got it – it was more complex than you can think.

There was another problem. While taking orders the ownership of the websites was not verified. Now when they can take any customer, you can easily hire them to get links to ebay (if they were your competitors) and get them banned. How is that?

Google’s job was tremendous – it had to identify the networks and then verify the sites that were linked to know if they actually used spammy methods to get links. All through a software program. You get the point – its not that easy.

It’s still not easy and not 100% perfect – but now Google search has methods in place to identify spammy links and non-spammy links. Again there algorithm is not 100% perfect, but it’s better not to try those silly ideas of link building anymore just to be safe. Eventually you will be caught.

You must be thinking what happened to those spammy link building companies? Well they all are out of business. The ones who are still in business today mostly do not use tricky methods to do link building – they do it the hard way. And that is what we will discuss here:

Did you realize something in the above paragraph? It is that there is no short cut to success. You got to do it right and do it the hard way to be in business for long. 🙂

Ok. Lets get back to the topic. Link Building Best Practices – 2013 and beyond!!!

I have put them in numbers so that its easy to understand and remember:

1. Forget link building first – concentrate on building good content: Yes especially if you are a small webmaster (not a big company) – you must first write good valuable content for your visitors. Search engines will index them and for less competitive keywords your pages may start to rank well. Webmasters will come to know about your site and link to these pages giving your website free links.

2. Try contacting similar websites for links: No I am not saying you go for a link exchange scheme. In fact link exchange will be counter-productive. Search engines hate link exchange schemes. What I am trying to say is that you can contact a site owner or webmaster in similar theme and tell them about your site. If they find it worth linking they will link. That’s human nature, isn’t it? However do not force them to link to your site or pay to link to your site. (Well some rich website owners do that – but its another topic. In short these people can afford to take two risks – one keep paying money month after month for the links and two they risk there site’s rankings too.) If a site is caught buying links – search engines will discount those paid links. And too much of them can get the site out of ranks. Can you afford to take that risk. If yes go ahead.

Another thing is, do not give any anchor text for the links to any webmaster. That’s because you want your links to look natural. If you start giving your primary anchor text to all the webmasters, all of the links will look same raising eyebrows of the search engines. Why? Suppose a thousand of websites over time give your website link with the same anchor text – how does that sound? Doesn’t it look unnatural? Let the webmasters link to your site in whatever anchor text they feel comfortable in. Even “click here” or your domain name anchor text is ok – as far as the links are coming from related business websites.

3. Do not use a software or plugin to create links. Period. Do I need to say anything more? They will only create trash links. This will do more harm than good. And then when you will get a warning in your webmaster’s account you will spend hours and hours to delete those links. Some of them you won’t be even able to delete.

4. Try to get a link from an authority website in that topic. A link from a government, big organization’s website or from a university’s website is as good as getting hundreds of links from small number of websites. It works like this. If your teacher tells you something, don’t you believe them? You get the idea.

5. Do not worry if some unrelated website links to your site. Some of them will do no harm. But if you see that a lot of unrelated websites are linking to your site, then something is wrong. It could be that one of your competitors is trying to take your site out of competition. Its called negative SEO. Google has always denied negative SEO, but they have also introduced disavow tool. In that case I personally believe that if there is a tool to tell Google not to count a link, a lot of bad links may harm your site’s rankings. So I feel its better to be on the safe side. Negative SEO is another topic, but for now just understand that its better to be safe. Good news is that I have rarely come across anyone really impacted by negative SEO. If you have build a good site – negative SEO will do nothing. Use the disavow tool to full advantage.

6. Use social media plugins: Things link Facebook plug-in and Google+ plug-in will help spread the word about your site. Webmasters are people too – they are in FB and Google+. Some of them will surely link to your site.

7. Get directory links: Directories such as Yahoo Directory and others are also great places to get a link. Well some are paid and some free. But first you must find if they are human edited ones. Why? Because human edited directories do not keep spam websites in their directory. You don’t want your site to be in the company of spammy websites. Yes paying to be in a couple of directories especially the Yahoo Directory and Yellow Pages does help. It shows you are serious about your business.

8. Write guest posts: If you can write guest posts and get your posts in some websites – you can get great links coming from different websites. This will also generate traffic. When writing guest posts do not forget to link to your site. And again do not use the same anchor text in all your links. Also you must make sure the guest post is on a similar topic website. This is good for both your and the site where you have posted your article. Do not copy paste the same article in all the websites. Write unique articles. Keep it natural.

9. Participate in online forums: Participating in online forums of the related topic will help you make contact with webmasters in the similar business. Again, getting a link from a similar topic website has a lot of value. You can always use your website link in your forums signature/profile. Real links from these forums will help. But never ever create fake profiles and try to get links from forums. That will not help.

10. Use your website link in your email signature. I am not saying you keep asking everyone you mail to give your website a link. Using the link in your emails will spread the word about your website and you never know when someone will link to your site.

Well these were some of very simple yet effective tips for a long time link building campaign. Trust me these honest link building methods will take some time and a lot of hard-work, but they will be effective and no Panda or Penguin update will do any harm to your site.

If you think this article deserves a link, please link to this article from your website. 🙂

All About Google Disavow Links Tool

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Many webmasters complained that they were unable to remove all SPAM links from third party websites pointing to their websites and that they should be able to tell Google about it, so that Google do not penalize their website for low quality incoming links.

Well Google answered it with the Disavow tool.

What is Disavow tool?

Disavow tool is a way to tell Google the links to your website that you think are SPAM. For example profiles links that you never created, or links bought for the purpose of passing Page Rank. If Google discounts those links there is a possibility that your websites’ rank may improve.

How can you find the Disavow tool?

You need to have a Google Webmasters account to access it. If you don’t have one you can open an account here. There you will have to register your website to use the tool.

How to use the Disavow tool?

It’s simple.

1. First open a Notepad.

2. Copy paste the URLs that you think have SPAMMY links pointing to your site. Each URL should be in a new line. For ex:

As you can see, links in the page pageA.html of will be discounted. But ALL links coming from the website will be discounted. Be careful here.

NOTE: You can find the spammy links in your webmasters account itself. You need not keep looking in the Internet using any other tool. There are many tools out there ready to take your money. But what you need is already there in your webmasters account. You want to tell Google to ignore spammy links pointing to your site that Google knows, not what Google has already discounted or has not indexed.

To know the links those points to your site in the webmasters tool do the following:

From the homepage, select the site you want, navigate to Traffic > Links to Your Site > Who links the most > More, then click one of the download buttons. This file lists pages that link to your site. Copy paste the links in your notepad that you think are SPAMMY.

3. Save the notepad with any name. But we suggest name it like this – Disavow-SiteName.txt. Now upload the notepad in your webmasters account Disavow tool.

Google will take several weeks to take into account the links present in the notepad to discount them. However remember that it’s not an instruction, it’s just a suggestion. Google may or may not take the Disavow links suggestions as told by you.

Disavow is also no guarantee that your website may get its rank back. WHY? Because Google have thousands of pointers to decide ranking of the pages. If your website has some other elements that Google may not like, there is little chance that your sites’ ranks will be back.

Please do not use Disavow tool to SPAM Google or try to beat out your competitor by first getting a link and then trying to tell Google that your competitor has a Spammy website. This is called negative-SEO. Google is smarter than you think. They have automated as well as manual checks in place to know what is Spammy and what is not. Your one or two link does not do anything – you may only harm your own website.

Google has also made it very clear that Disavow will not do any harm to any website. So negative-SEO is just not possible.

You also got to first try to contact the webmaster of the concerned websites and ask them to remove the link to your site. If they do so, there is no need to mention that link in your Disavow tool. If you are unsuccessful, put the links in the Disavow tool.

If your site is totally out of index you may need to send a reconsideration request to Google. By just mentioning the Spammy links in the Disavow tool your job is not over. Yes if only links were the issue, you need not send a reconsideration request.

Remember, Disavow is just a tool to tell Google what you think could be Spammy links or something that you don’t want to be counted among incoming links. Google will do the rest. Using Disavow is no guarantee that your site will get its previous ranks back – but you should give it a try. You never know!!!

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