You're Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

Google Loves Links, But Not All Links Are Good

Google based its success upon the links it found between websites. Over time it refined this.

In the beginning, it was literally the number of links. The more you had linking to your site, the better.

Then quality became a factor. A link from a respected site such as was worth more than a link from just any old site. However, a large number of minor links could add up.

The above 2 scenarios meant that people tended to seek as many links as possible, from wherever they could. Not just business owners, but more often, the people they had engaged to undertake Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on their behalf.

This effectively spammed Google's index, and so they then introduced relevance. A link from a site that dealt with the same or similar subject matter as your site, was deemed much more valuable than a link from a completely unrelated site.

Taking this a stage further, Google then viewed irrelevant links as a negative factor, actually moving you down the list.

Google's view on links is that they should be there only if they provide value to the person visiting your website. As a rule-of-thumb, a link should be there only if it would have been there if Google had not existed. Probably very few links pass this test, which means that the majority of your links could now be counter-productive!

Take one minute to consider how this relates to you. Have you:

  • Added your website willy-nilly to directories;
  • Added your website to any link page that you could;
  • Bought links;
  • Created trivial blog posts or replies, just to get a link;
  • Done anything else to get more links;
  • Engaged someone to do SEO, and they did the above, or you're not sure whether they did.

So what should you do? First, be totally honest with yourself. Did you, or do you think that you might have done something that abused links to your website? Or perhaps an agency that worked on your behalf? If so, then you should conduct an audit of your links. Then categorise them into good, bad and indifferent. Prioritise and act.

Google has now introduced a means of removing "bad" links. However, this has to be approached cautiously. How do you know which are the bad links? Doing things impulsively could throw out the baby with the bathwater, or worse.

Make no mistake; this is a MASSIVE job. So who should do it? You may not want to use whoever got you into this mess in the first place. You should also be cautious of unsolicited approaches from poachers turned gamekeepers, people who previously offered their "link building" services.

Initiative2 has never engaged in, nor endorsed, the activities that are now causing problems. Get in touch, and we can have a chat.

Whatever you do, I would suggest that you stop all link building activity until you are satisfied that what you are doing (or having done on your behalf) is actually to your benefit.

By Kenneth Mackay, 25th February, 2013

This is one of a series of articles that deal with common issues when promoting your business online. We hope that you found it useful. Go to our online marketing tips to see previous pieces of advice. If there are any topics that you would like covered, please let us know.

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