Posts Tagged ‘link building’

What You Need To Know About Google’s Latest Link Guidelines: AKA How Google Is Ruining the Web They Created and What You Can Do About It

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Matt Cutts - Nofollow All the Links!!!

The last few years have been rather painful for some SEO’s when it comes to links and link building.  In 2012 many were hit by Google’s “Penguin” algorithm that went after manipulative linking schemes.  Many others have been hit in its subsequent refreshes or the infamous “Penguin 2.0” update. But in the wake of all the recent algorithm updates, Google has recently made some changes to the way it defines “link schemes” and many practices that have been used by businesses and marketers to build authority in websites have many SEO’s and small businesses wondering where they should turn to next.  Here’s what Google is saying and some ways you can continue to reap the benefits of these methods, while remaining on Google’s good side.

What Are Link Schemes?

In Google’s eyes, link schemes are basically any means of gaining links unnaturally.  In other words, if you’re “building links” you’re technically engaging in a link scheme.  That said, its obviously not that black and white and working to build links to your website is obviously not going to get you in too much trouble if you go about it the right way.  But what has businesses and marketers nervous is the changes Google has made to classify certain practices as “link schemes.”

Guest Blogging

Over the last few years guest blogging has been a popular way for people to earn new links to their website.  It gave them the ability to promote their product or business and also score some decent backlinks to their website because they could control the anchor text.  However, the recent updates to Google’s link scheme guidelines call out article marketing and guest blogging as link schemes.

How To Guest Blog Moving Forward

  • Become a regular contributor – Instead of creating one post on dozens of sites, become a contributor that creates dozens of posts for only a handful of sites. This can help to build audience, authority, and is ultimately safer than traditional guest blogging since you become an author on the site. As an example, I am a contributor at both Search News Central and Search Engine People and earn links in the body of my content as well as my author bio.
  • Scale it back – One of the overlooked elements of Google’s update about guest blogging is the use of the word “Large-scale” at the start of the guideline.  Many communities have popped up over the years allowing you to accept/pitch guest posts at scale. Instead of finding every opportunity to post, identify only the most relevant, authoritative sites to post on.  This will keep the scale smaller and offer greater rewards.
  • Keep it natural – One of the biggest issues with unnatural links is the anchor text used to link back to a website.  Too many links with the same anchor text can set off spam signals at Google. If you are doing larger scale article marketing or guest blogging, stay away from exact match anchor text and keep your links a bit more natural.  Find modifiers that can be added to the keyword you’re targeting or better yet, incorporate branded links in place of exact match anchor text as part of your efforts. The key is to shy away from creating linking patterns that can trigger the algorithm, or even a manual penalty from Google.

Press Releases

Historically, press releases were used to help alert the media of newsworthy announcements from your business or organization.  Fast forward to the digital age, and businesses and marketers found an opportunity in the links provided by press releases.  Not only would you earn keyword rich anchor text links from press releases, but every site afterward that picked up the release.  Because of this, Google is now warning against the use of “Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.”  In a Google+ hangout following the update Google’s John Mueller recommend nofollowing links in a press release to be safe.

Press Releases Moving Forward

  • Drop the spammy low quality press releases – One reason I believe this guideline came to light is because of the amount of pure crap that is distributed as “news.”  Only submit press releases that are truly newsworthy and might actually be of interest to a news outlet.  Not only does this cut back on the amount of spam in Google’s news results, bu it might actually earn you some decent media coverage that could earn you some even stronger links.
  • Keep it natural – Again, like in the case of guest blogging try and keep your anchor text as natural as possible.  If you really want to play it safe consider using brand or just your url as the anchor text and hopefully earn the more relevant links on the backend when a reporter reaches out to you to cover your story.
  • Nofollow where you can – While in most cases you won’t have any control over this, if you have the option to nofollow your links consider doing it where possible. Again, the goal of a press release is not the link, but the exposure and the hope that it may earn you some separate press coverage.

Infographics

If you’ve been online at all these last few years you’ve probably seen a few hundred, hell maybe even a few thousand infographics. They’re a great visual means of displaying data and if done right they can earn you a ton of links.  Hell, even I’ve written on ways to get more links for your infographic, but in SEO, as in life, too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

Google and the SEO industry has had its eye on infographics ever since Google’s Matt Cutts commented on how they may lose their value in an interview conducted by Eric Enge.  Then earlier this week Matt Cutts mentioned in the below webmaster help video that perhaps now is a good time to start nofollowing your infographic links as well as links embedded in widgets.

Infographics Moving Forward

  • Rely on the value of the page your linking to – If you’re not quite ready to nofollow those awesome infographic links consider keeping your anchor text a bit more generic when you link back to your website and then link from the page on your site using strong anchor text and hope some of the value of the links funneling in to that page will help fuel your efforts.  I did this with a project a while back and we had the infographic link back to the blog post that first shared the infographic and then in the blog post we added keyword rich anchor text links within the page about a month later. It may not have had the same impact, but we still saw a bump for the efforts in the end.
  • Nofollow your links and hope for the best – Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday infographic links are going to most likely trigger some sort of penalty or manual action on a site.  I alluded to this in my post on how to do infographics right.  In the end if you have a solid infographic that people are actually interested in it can earn you links naturally and even earn you some love in the social media realm.

This is the Web That Google Weaved

Despite its best intentions the mess we face as digital marketers and business owners is a product of the exact company that is trying to stop it.  Links are the life force behind rankings in Google’s search results and as such SEO’s and business owners have sought any method possible to drive links to their website in hopes of earning that coveted spot at #1 in the search results.  What was “ok” in SEO a year ago is quickly becoming an SE-no and could potentially harm your website.  As such, its time for SEO’s and businesses to really start thinking about how they are going to build, or even earn links in the future.  The above are just short term fixes to a long term problem.  In the end how SEO’s and businesses get links to their content is going to get harder and harder unless you start investing time and effort into things that will drive not only links, but an audience and eventually profits.

Finding Missed Link Opportunities for your Infographic Using Google Image Search

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Back in July I learned a handful of nifty tricks after completing Google’s Power Searching with Google, and one of the more interesting tips was the ability to drag and drop any image from the web or from your desktop into Google image search to find the same or similar images.  This is probably takeaway I have used more frequently, especially when doing some fact checking with hurricane Sandy photos.  But as I continued to utilize this feature it occurred to me that people building links using infographics could easily use this feature to identify places that picked up their infographic and in turn make sure they are getting proper attribution.

How It Works

Google image search can easily search for images by simply clicking and dragging.  If you visit images.google.com you are able to drag images from other tabs directly into the search bar, or you can drag an image from a folder on your computer or desktop and perform the same search.  Searches using this feature will present you with a variety of results that look the same, or similar to your result.  Because of this, it is easy for you to find sources across the web that have been indexed with images that match what you’re looking for.

Finding Your Graphic

If you’ve posted an original infographic or other original image content you can easily drag and drop the finished graphic from your computer or website to find other places that may be featuring your content.  In the sampling of results below, you can see the results from and infographic I helped run for iEnhance.com last year.  The first result features the original piece of content, but is followed by other results featuring the same graphic.

Infographic image search results

 

With this information I can now visit each site featuring the graphic and make sure that iEnhance is properly receiving attribution for the image.  If not, I can contact the webmaster in hopes of getting the desired link that was included with the original infographic embed code.

Similar practices can be used to find essentially any original image content you’ve created for your website.  The catch is how original the content is.  For instance, this meme style header I did for a post on how to effectively pin images from Tumblr to Pinterest doesn’t exactly fare as well in my search because it uses a screencap from the popular eighties video game Super Mario Bros.

Results for a less original piece of image content

While many folks are still shying away from infographics in fear that they will be the next thing from Google to lose their value, I do feel that if done well these still have a place online and are still just as popular.  If you’re afraid that your infographics may hurt you in the future, this is also a great way to find opportunities to do link outreach and vary your anchor text a bit in comparison to your original embed code.  Regardless, its a quick and easy way to a) see who else picked up your graphic and b) make sure you’re getting the credit for your hard work that you deserve.

Update: After the post went out, Ben Cook tweeted me to let me know that Tineye is another good tool for doing this.  As an added bonus checkout his post on Copyright infringement outreach, which ties in nicely with my post and earning links from property that belongs to you.

Another great find with similar information is Geoff Kenyon of Distilled’s new post, which dives deeper into ways of finding missed link opportunities from your infographic.  Discover more ways to find sites that don’t link.

RSS Fed Directories A Linking Jackpot?

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

I’ve noticed over the last month or so that many backlinks I am finding in Google, while doing link research for clients, are RSS feeds from free directories. What’s even more intriguing is that these appear to show up towards the top of the results when I use the link operator. Even more interesting, is that the pages that the links are displayed on within the site typically don’t carry any PR and aren’t indexed.

My preliminary finding seems to be that even if some of these free directories suck on site, they appear to please Google in RSS form. Below is an example from today’s research. I ran the link operator for one of my clients competitors and the first backlink Google listed was http://www.seagency.net/rss.php?c=456&s=H. I did a little snooping and found the competitor site over 3/4 of the way down the list of links. Which means even though it’s a good 400 links in, Google is still picking it up as a relevant backlink.

After discovering that the site sat so low in the RSS feed I decided to check out the listing on the physical site itself. The backlink is found on page 20 of the directories Real Estate and Property category; the page has no PR and is NOT indexed. Furthermore the page itself is not listed within the backlinks for the site.

While I obviously can’t say that this is the case for EVERY RSS fed directory, I have a strong hunch that as more directories feed themselves via RSS we may see more of this. Google obviously isn’t viewing and giving value to RSS fed links the same way it is links on the physical website. Furthermore if you subscribe to the theory that the order links are listed when you run a link operator are an indicator of importance, then it would seem that the links fed via RSS hold a significant value in the eyes of Google. For now I am going to hop and the bandwagon and see if I can’t suck some of the link juice from some of these directories, I’m sure it’s only time before Google sees things differently.

I’ll continue to look into this and if/as I find new information I will definitely be posting more about it.