With so many Google updates, it can hard to understand what the search engine wants when it comes to your backlinks. If you build too many of the wrong links, you can count on that “unnatural link” warning showing up in your email.
To help clear up some confusion, here are link schemes that are rendered useless by Google:
An advertorial is basically a blog post talking about a product, offering no use to the average reader. While a website can accept these types of posts, you have to understand that you put yourself at risk if you or the website owner doesn’t “nofollow” the link. Plus, any website that usually accepts these posts are considered a place you don’t want to associate yourself with.
Article directories are deemed one of the worst ways to build links because your article will be duplicated across hundreds of scraper websites, offering no value to search engines. In the past, article directories were a fantastic way to draw in referral traffic; however, this isn’t the case anymore. At all costs, avoid building links through article directories because it’s only going to do more harm than good.
There’s nothing wrong about leaving a blog comment, but if you insist on writing blog comments to place your URL everywhere, then this can look unnatural to Google. Blog commenting should be done to help get yourself known within the community. When leaving a comment, simply leave your name and add something that’s valuable.
As of late, guest posting has received a bad reputation, and while guest posts can get you a penalty, it’s only going to come if you write a lot of low-quality articles for a lot of poorly built websites. If you’re going to use guest posting as a backlink strategy, that’s fine; however, when you take this approach, always make sure that you’re writing a guest post for a website that’s going to send you traffic and help build your brand.
Unless you’re exchanging links with a high-quality source, such as a newspaper or college, this is a link scheme that you should probably avoid. While one or two link exchanges won’t harm you, it’s going to be the pages filled with hundreds of useless links that may raise the penalty flag.
Money or Sponsored
While it’s okay to write a review on a sponsored product or accept money for an advertisement, you have to understand that these links have to have the “nofollow” attribute. If this attribution isn’t added, you’re breaking the golden rule — accepting or paying cash for links.
A natural link profile won’t have the same anchor text over and over again. When your profile is more than 60 percent commercial keywords, this is going to be a huge red flag. To make sure your backlink profile is natural looking, don’t focus on adding your anchor text every time you build a link; instead, try to use your brand name, URL, random words and a few keywords.
A technique that has been abused in the past is when a website owner adds links to their sidebar. The problem with a sitewide link is that it can potentially show up on thousands of pages, raising suspicion. While one or two sitewide links won’t hurt you, this is a tactic that should be ignored.
Natural links are slowly built over time, and if Google notices a random spike that isn’t justified, this could be another red flag. Unless your website was trending, a large spike could only mean you signed up for some sort of automation service that built you thousands of low-quality links.
In the past, there were a lot of great web directories that could send you some traffic and help build your brand, but as the game has changed, Google no longer favors any directories. Unless you’re getting listed on DMOZ, it’s best to build links elsewhere. Most web directories offer no content, very little value and are loaded with thousands of low-quality links.
Building a widget and adding your link to the code is usually a tactic you’re going to want to avoid. For example, many WordPress developers will create a plug-in and add their backlink to the code, making it show on a website without the owner even knowing about it. This type of strategy is not only going to annoy your users, but can harm you rankings as well because the same link will show up across hundreds, if not thousands of websites. To play it safe, let your users make the decision if they want to add the link or not, and if they do, make sure that the “nofollow” attribute is applied.
Today, manipulating Google is harder than ever, and as more and more tactics are deemed “low-quality,” it’s more important than ever that you pay close attention to what is against Google’s guidelines. Remember this: A good link is going to be hard to get, it will send you a lot of direct traffic and will come from a reliable source that many people have heard of.