Adapt Your Link Building Strategy…Or Get Left Behind

Adapt Your Link Building Strategy…Or Get Left Behind


As many SEOs know by now, Google’s algorithm is steadily becoming more and more complex; and in the wake of some massive updates and the penalization of a number of blog networks, numerous companies are finally taking Google’s powerful warnings seriously. The future is looking bleak for webmasters that continue to use spam-filled blog networks and other spam techniques to manipulate PageRank and SERPs. It has been a pretty well-known pattern that about once a year, Google unleashes a large update: it “slaps” these types of practices down in order to regain relevancy and clean up the Internet community.

However it seems that as of late, Google has been going into overdrive with larger updates, slapping well-known networks, in an attempt to make an example out of these cheaters like Roger Goodell did to the New Orleans Saints. The vast warnings and penalizations show that Google is feeling more confident in finding these unnatural links with their continuously evolving algorithm.

Cat and Mouse

Although people involved with search engine optimization constantly play a cat and mouse game with Google, the recent updates might not be all bad. It emphasizes the importance of producing or obtaining relevant, natural, and quality links (which is what every campaign should be trying to accomplish). For those using a more black hat approach, the ability to adjust their game plan will be crucial, or they might feel the wrath of the Panda, so to speak. So what do these updates really mean for your campaigns and strategies? What have the recent warnings and penalties accomplished? What does this mean for the future?

Using blog networks has its own line of attack, and some webmasters have found a way to stay under the radar and maintain solid rankings while not getting penalized. However, this has proven to work for only the short term. It seems that taking a gamble on whether Google will catch on to your blog network campaign is clearly not an effective long term strategy, especially those involving “spun content.”

Google has sent out over 700,000 warning messages via Webmaster Tools over the past two months to webmasters that are believed to have gone outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Some of these sites received only warnings; however some were immediately penalized. Build My Rank (BMR) is probably the most notable site to fall victim to Google’s harsh update. Their site was virtually shut down, and they have since had to hang up the pads, and call it a game.

Google’s Aggressive Stance

It’s a safe bet that aggressive stance will continue. It’s not hard for Google to find a fake blog that simply exists to place links; the content is hideous, the articles make no sense, and these blogs are the one and only spot you can find male enhancement pills, engagement rings, and college essay writing all in the same spot. For the webmasters that have used these blogs as a means to manipulate PageRank, odds are they have received a message in Google Webmaster Tools regarding steps to take for cleaning up links directed back to their site.

Google has asked webmasters to submit for reconsideration after the proper changes have been made. In other words, this might be a complete nightmare for webmasters that have used spun content, spam, and blog networks to rank higher in SERPs. Although there are tools that can help locate those bad links, the wasted time it takes to remove all those links can be detrimental.

In my mind, this is one of the great benefits of the recent fear that has been put in the mind of spammers and blog networks. Isn’t this what everyone wants? Don’t we all want relevant searches, relevant content, and quality sites throughout the web? It’s exciting for people who enjoy a legitimate, natural link building strategy, and horrific for those who found short success in manipulating the algorithm. But who’s the real winner and loser?

The Winning Strategy

  • Create interesting, fun, engaging content. This will bring in quality links from a variety of sources. These will be natural, editorially given links that will most likely generate traffic to your website.
  • Identify low-hanging fruit like internal links. Link from your own content to other pages that make sense. It’s amazing how many webmasters overlook this simple, yet effective technique.
  • Use Google’s Discussions in the search results and other tools to find relevant blog and forums for you to participate in. You will find that under the “more” button when conducting a Google search.
  • Doing traditional article or blog post placement in your industry is still very effective.
  • Try some link recovery or reclamation which is the process of asking webmasters who already mention your brand or product to turn those same mentions into links to your website.
  • Use Open Site Explorer to find the “top pages” on your competitors’ website to discover who is linking to them. Then reach out to those websites and ask them to link to you.
  • Use search operators to find opportunities for manual link building. It’s a lot of work, but can really pay off.

Since Panda rolled out into the scene, Google updates have frequently changed the strategies of SEO. Link Builders and Campaign Managers have often switched tactics and evolved their game plan to combat the penalizations that come with manipulating search results. However there is a strong benefit to what Google is trying to accomplish. It’s an effort to clean up the Internet of today, one filled with spam and irrelevant content that if anything else complicates the world of search engine optimization. For the strong spammer and spun content creator, the world just got a lot more difficult. For those trying to maintain a white hat approach, the world is getting cleaner, and more exciting.

What do you think of the recent Blog Apocalypse?

Brad Kuenn

Brad Kuenn is the co-author of The Customer Journey: How an Owned Audience Can Transform Your Business and Content Marketing Works. As Marketing Director at Investis Digital, Brad manages internal inbound marketing and acts as senior editor for the website. Brad’s responsible for ensuring that content efficiently reaches established goals, delivers optimum results, and aligns with Vertical Measures values. Follow him @BKuenn +Brad Kuenn