Link building is probably the most common practices among SEOs everywhere. Google has made it clear on repeated occasions that a good linking profile is an important factor in rankings. Be careful of using automated backlink software – read on about the dangers of building low quality links
There are different ways to build backlinks that boost your SEO performance. Those that are based on high-quality backlinks and organic link building are referred to as “White Hat” link-building tactics.
The quote on the image is by John Mueller – Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst – Google.
On the other hand, there are other techniques that focus on the quantity of links in order to boost your rankings quickly. These tactics are known as “Black Hat” practices and come with the risk of being penalized by Google and other search engines.
The goal of this article is to help you get a better understanding of how link building works and what it is. Then, we’ll dive into painting a clear picture of what link building software and automated backlinks are and how they work. Most importantly, the dangers of using some of these techniques.
What is Link Building?
According to Wikipedia:
“In the field of search engine optimization, link building describes actions aimed at increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a webpage with the goal of increasing the search engine rankings of that page or website.”
Notice the wording of the definition: “increasing the number and quality of inbound links”. Both characteristics are important and must remain in balance for your link building to stand the test of time… and the test of Google’s algorithms.
As you can see from this screenshot, the focus is mostly on quality.
Quality backlinks are key to building a link profile that helps your site rank better without calling undesired attention from Google’s team. Here are a few tips to help you learn how to get along with the algorithm and distinguish the differences between good and bad links.
Google and Link Building
In the old days, link building just meant putting as many links in as many sites as possible pointing at your website. This was common practice and many people did it successfully. However, Google quickly caught up and started focusing its efforts on improving the quality of the user experience by providing more and more relevant search results.
Google rewards links that add value to the user and serve them with the most useful results possible. These types of links are gained or built either organically because you produce such great quality content that everyone and their mom want to link to it. Or, you have gone through the arduous duties of a link-building campaign.
Quick Reminder: What is a Link Building Campaign
A link-building campaign is a team coordinated effort to perform research and outreach to find websites with domain authority and a traffic volume that would benefit your own website. Then, once there is a negotiation regarding the details of the content and the link, the article is written, edited, published and the link is live.
Another highly important vetting is finding websites that not only have a high DA, but that are also compatible regarding topics, audience, expertise, etc. So, in a nutshell, link-building campaigns take a lot of work.
Google and Bad Link Building
Search engines are increasingly learning how to distinguish quality, organic content, and links from content and links that are produced automatically through sophisticated pieces of link-building software such as Money Robot and Senuke, among many others.
Money Robot Interface
Google clearly states that one of the Link Schemes that can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results is “using automated programs or services to create links to your site”.
Could they make it any clearer? Regardless, there are many companies and software offering just that: building links back to your site to help you rank better quickly. Beware of the consequences.
Let’s understand what link-building software is and how it’s connected to automated backlinks first.
What is link-building software?
Link building software is designed to submit your backlinks and content to:
- Web 2.0 Blogs
- Social Network Posts
- Social Bookmarking
- Web Directories
- Wiki Articles
- Press Release
- Article Directories
- Web 2.0 Profiles
- Forum Profiles
Some of these platforms include a feature to spin your content (Article Spinner) in order to endlessly rewrite your article to make sure it passes the duplicate content test and other plagiarism checks.
Google’s (and other search engines) are constantly changing their algorithms (most notoriously with the Panda and Penguin) to penalize and deprioritize and find links created artificially by these programs.
Although the tools got better over time at beating the algorithm, each major search engine has continued to invest in keeping up.
Nowadays, Most of the top automated link-building tools have all but faced out, leaving only a few systems that are still popular despite not being as effective as before. These include:
- Money Robot
These sites claim to be able to produce links that are going to help you rank, and they will. But they can also get you penalized, and the sites for these types of services put great effort into highlighting features that will make your link-building campaign seem more natural and organic.
Even they know search engines prefer organic links and content.
Dangers of Link Building Software & Automated Backlinks
Before we take a look at the dangers of automated backlinks, here’s a refresher of link building tactics you must definitely not apply:
- You shouldn’t buy links.
- Don’t exchange links.
- Avoid automated programs to get links.
- Don’t do guest blogging with very thin and off-topic content.
- Don’t comment on blogs or forums if your only purpose is to leave a link in the comment.
- Over-optimizing your anchor text isn’t a good idea.
- You shouldn’t have links that are unrelated to the topic of your website.
- Avoid having links from sites that have no real content.
If you follow these rules and make sure your content and links are organic and naturally obtained through guest blogging and other White Hat link-building tactics, then don’t worry about reading the rest of this article.
But, if you want to try these tools at your own risk or if you are curious to learn a bit more, then carry on.
Links that can Get You Penalized
Below is a list of 10 types of bad links that search engines can penalize you for either algorithmically (automatically) or through manual action.
- Press Release Links
- Discussion Forum Links
- Links From Foreign Guestbooks
- Many Random NoFollow Links
- Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
- NoFollowed (& Followed) Social Bookmark Links
- Directory Submissions (or a Directory Submissions Service)
- Blog Comments
- Links From Fiverr or Other Cheap Link Services
- Links Built by Automatic Link Building Programs
As you have probably figured out already, automated link building is not liked by search engines. If you decide to go that way, you already know the possible consequences.
Remember that removing an algorithmic downgrade can take around 6 to 8 months depending on the situation and gravity. A manual action could take up to a year or more to remove. Not to mention the headaches involved in submissions, resubmissions, etc. A proper link-building campaign can start yielding results much faster, take a look at how long it takes for link building to influence your site rankings.
To find out if you have received a link penalty, all you have to do is beware of receiving manual action notifications in Google Search Console.
You can also try a Website Penalty Indicator or check if you got an algorithmic downgrade by analyzing your Google Analytics data. If you see a 35 to 50 percent drop in overall traffic, conduct a careful analysis to figure out if your issues are content-related, technical, or indeed a sanction for using automated backlink software.
Hot to Build a Better Link Profile
If you are recovering from a penalty or just want to do things right from the start, read this SEO guide for beginners and make sure you adopt good habits for link building and keep in mind that link building, like any growth tactic, requires hard work and should be a long-term investment.
Here’s a list of good habits to practice and keep in mind.
- Use branded anchor text where possible.
- Use naked URLs.
- Do not use exact match keyword anchor text.
- Don’t get links from bad sites.
- Don’t place links with over-optimized anchor text manually or with tools.
- Make sure your links are approved by the site owners.
- Get links from good authority sites in your niche.
- Engage with people
- Avoid automated link building tools
A good link profile needs to strike a balance between different types of links and avoid looking spammy and unnatural.
Focus your link building on adding value to your target audience and to the audience of your target link-building sites and platforms. This ensures you get rewarded by Google and other search engines instead of penalized.
Additionally, you will get the long-term added value of high-quality backlinks that drive good traffic to your money sites regularly. Invest the time in doing things right and it will pay off.