Links on the Internet form a relationship between pages and sites and these are crucial for both search engines and marketers. Search engines have little robots and spiders that crawl the web, discovering new pages. These are able to determine the popularity and the relevance of these pages to searcher’s queries. As Moz puts it – links are “the streets between pages” on the Internet.

Gaining high-quality links from external websites is a key part of an SEO campaign as they can considerably improve your search rankings; this is known as link-building. It is probably one of the most challenging areas of the SEO process as it requires creativity, hustle and occasionally a budget. Ensuring that you have high-quality links can be very hard. Google can penalise you for using poor-quality links and your search engine listings can drastically shoot down – so it is a process that has to be done properly!

There are ‘natural’ editorial links that are given naturally by sites and pages that want to link to you. All that needs to be done to ensure this is the creation of good content and the marketing of this content.

There are manual ‘outreach’ links that have been actively sought out from emailing bloggers and website owners, signing up to directories and paying for listings.

Finally, there are also self-created, non-editorial links. These should be pursued with caution, as search engines have been known to penalise websites for using them ‘aggressively’. These involve comments on blogs, profile pages on websites, forum signatures and so forth. They have been known to affect rankings however now they are considered spammy and not something we would recommend.

Links to good quality and popular websites, links to similar areas to your website, fresh constantly updated links and social media links are all examples of link-building that will work within Google’s guidelines.

Shaun Anderson describes the term ‘link-building’ as a dirty word in 2014; almost solely because Google has forced the association of ‘spam’ onto the word.

Matt Cutts, the leader of the Webspam team at Google (although I probably didn’t need to tell you that!), works with the search quality team on search engine optimisation issues.  He knows his stuff. And in January he published a blog claiming that guest blogging is “done”.

Cutts explains that there are so many low-quality blogs being used as links and that getting high-quality ones is now very difficult. Guest blogging has just become a “spammy practice” claims Cutts. He argues that many guest bloggers now violate Google’s quality guidelines but if you read his comments properly there is still value in guest blogging.

The Penguin update in 2012 affected lots of websites that were using low-quality links. BMW, Forbes, JCPenney and are a few of the major brands that have been penalised by Google for using spammy and non-user friendly link building tactics.Relatively recently eBay suffered a drop in search engine visibility which was originally thought to be a result of Panda 4.0 update on 19th May however it is now suspected that eBay was penalised by Google for ‘deodgy’ SEO tactics and subsequently their rankings shot down. Even now they have fewer appearances on Google search results. There are many cases where penalised websites have been unable to return to good search rankings. However it is not impossible!

At Reflect Digital, our SEO processes involve setting up high-quality links for your website in order to improve search engine rankings and generate high-quality traffic. You should feel comfortable leaving your website in our hands to ensure non-spammy link-building that cushions perfectly within Google’s guidelines.

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