Does Google Believe Your Links Are Natural?
Does Google Believe Your Links Are Natural?
Well, Google better believe your links are natural and real, otherwise your site will be in a whole lot of trouble. The kind that can propel your lucrative high-earning keywords from #1 in the most popular search engine on the planet, down to oblivion and beyond. It's one judgment call that can mean an end to your online site and income.
This is serious business, especially if you have made the marketing mistake of relying on Google for the majority of your traffic. Even if you have many different avenues of traffic, losing your top rankings in Google for your site's main keywords can virtually mean the end of a profitable site. Serious business indeed.
And Google is turning up the heat.
The whole series of Panda Updates has had a devastating effect on millions of sites on the web. These ongoing updates are lowering the rankings of countless web pages in Google's index, mainly because of poor quality content or what Google believes is poor quality content. These downgrades can now be applied to one's whole site so the consequences can be quite dire, if Panda has turned its nose up when it sniffed out your site.
Google's Webmaster Guidelines
Confused about what Google expects of your site and linking practices? Here's a handy site which explains Google's Guidelines in a simple manner:
In the last few weeks, Google seems to be making a big push towards judging your site's links. Does your links look natural? Are your anchor text keywords (clickable part of the link) balanced or do you have thousands of backlinks targeting the same keyword phrase? Are your backlinks part of a blog network? Do you have a handful of sites clustered around your keywords and are all these sites linked together?
All very serious questions and thousands of webmasters have gotten a message from Google (in Webmasters Tools) that their site's links appear unnatural.
It's not 2006 anymore!
Of course, those of us who have been building sites and making a living from those sites, have probably been doing SEO all these years. We have been optimizing our sites for the search engines, most of us have gone out of our way, to please the search engines. This will no doubt mean, these webmasters have an active link building program or strategies in place.
Like thousands of webmasters before me, I have relied upon articles and article marketing to build thousands of one-way backlinks to my sites. Unfortunately, these are viral articles which anyone can place on their sites - nothing wrong with this practice but the resource box at the end of these articles have the same keywords in the anchor text all pointing back to a page on your site. A popular well informed article can be picked up by hundreds, even thousands of sites who wanted to display your quality content on their sites. It simply meant a vote for your content.
However, not any more.
Years ago, this practice was fine, but now that Google has changed its rules, this could mean that your links don't appear natural or are not balanced. In other words, Google probably now sees this as "keyword stuffing" or something like spam,
In addition, like many webmasters, once you have a popular site that's over 10 years old, you develop areas of interest which may demand a site of its own. This is a natural progression or growth, but if you link all of these new sites together from your original site, Google may consider this a form of "site clustering" or grouping sites together into a network to gain favorable keyword rankings.
In recent weeks, Google seems to be coming down hard on these types of link building methods. Not only are they de-indexing whole blog networks, I am seeing a lot of well established sites losing ground because they are connected together. I have been closely monitoring certain lucrative keyword phrases for over 10 years, I know how the sites are connected and recently there has been a frightening drop in Google's listing of these sites.
Also, sites leaning towards the general topic angle (mostly supported by affiliate marketing) are being replaced by brand name or corporate sites at the top. Even for keyword phrases which broad are in nature and you would expect to see a comparison or review site at the top, are now being replaced by specific brand sites.
Google seems to be cutting out the smaller review/comparison/affiliate sites in favor of the corporate brand name sites in organic search.
While it is extremely easy to become very cynical and say Google is favoring or rewarding these corporate sites who pay most of Google's bills, these actual higher rankings could be the result of these corporate sites practicing - less and not more - SEO. Their backlinks could appear more natural, heck, their links could be more natural than your small site owner who tries to build as many backlinks as he or she can, in order to get that higher ranking in Google.
Regardless, webmasters and site owners, must now worry that all their backlinks appear as natural as possible in the eyes of Google. They simply have to make their links more natural. Now if you're a new site owner and you expect all your backlinks to grow naturally - then you're in for a rude awakening and a very long wait. Try eternity!
Those backlinks are just not going to be built unless you build them or hire someone to build them for you. No matter how you get them, they must appear natural to Google and they must not appear to be bought or manipulated.
Here are a few things you can try:
1. Don't always link to your site's home or index page. Some expert say it should be around 40% to your home page and 60% to other important interior pages. Reasoning - web surfers will naturally link to your quality content and not always to your home page.
2. Mix up your keyword anchor text links... have some "click here", "go", "try this link" and so on. Also use the whole URL for your text link in certain places, as this is a common way webmasters link to pages.
3. Try to have your backlinks in the actual content, the further up the better, not just in your resource box at the end. The idea is to make sure your links are as natural looking as possible.
4. Have your links flowing from numerous sources... social media sites, profiles, related blogs - even comments, also try to have some .gov and .edu links as these will help your rankings. Think quality rather than quantity when it now comes to link building.
5. Try to keep the rate at which you acquire backlinks at a regular pace, suddenly getting thousands of links will put up "red flags" for the search engines.
Lastly, always remember the search engines are just robots programmed to crawl and index content on the web, if your links and content trigger certain "red flags" outside of the set norms and standards - your content and site will be down-graded. Go strongly against Google's rules and your site may even draw a major penalty and may even be de-indexed. You want your content and any link building to be as natural looking as possible. One general rule which should govern all your link building - create links to get targeted traffic to your site and not just for SEO purposes, you want traffic first and links second. In other words, everything you do regarding your site (including link building) should be done to satisfy your human visitors and not the search engines.
Link/Keyword Monitoring Tip:
One easy way to monitor or track your links is to create Google Alerts for your site and your major keywords. Then whenever Google indexes a link related to your keywords or your site's URL, they will send you an email. This is a great way to see where your links are being placed or built. Also a great way to monitor your competition - Google Alerts.
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