Google’s Instructions on Responsible Link Building

stefan1Currently, an insidious idea infiltrates a segment of the blogging community: Links Are Bad.

This logic-defying belief springs from a misinterpretation of Google Penguin’s attack on search spam.

The belief defies logic because connections between sites are and always will be the foundation of Google’s algorithm.

The belief is dangerous because, as page 28 of Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide acknowledges, backlinks “increase the value of [a] site,” by facilitating “faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject.”

Stefan2Therefore, if sites stop linking, Google’s algorithm ceases to provide new, authoritative results.

Setting The Record Straight

Last week, Eric Enge (The Barbara Walters of SEO) coaxed surprisingly candid responses from Matt Cutts on this subject in an interview that got right to the point.

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Had the interview progressed no further, Mr. Enge earned my respect with his pointed questioning and immediate resolution of a pressing matter. But, Mr. Enge continued the interview, clarifying a number of debated tactics.

Syndicated Content

Syndicating content can garner links and extend brand reach, but if clear signals are not sent to Google, the syndicated content could outrank the original source. Matt Cutts suggests “some mechanical things” that help Google acknowledge the original source.

  • Rel=canonical to the original source
  • Embed a link to the original source
  • Attribute with authorship markup
  • Syndicate a few hours/days after publishing original

While these signals may help Google recognize the original source, more times than not, syndicated content on authoritative sites tends to outranks the original source. Eric Enge suggests the following:

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Press Releases

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Occasionally, I’m confronted by the bewildering belief that repetitively issuing dry, SEOed press releases is a valid form of acquiring links and attention. Matt Cutts sets the record straight.

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In short, the embedded link within the press release holds no SEO value, but the content within the press release holds tremendous value, IF it is crafted to incite sharing.

Guest Blogging

Just as the value of the press release relies on its effect on a browsing journalist, the value of the guest blog relies on the value it brings to the publisher’s audience.

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In the previous statement, Mr. Cutts highlights one of the link building tactics targeted by Penguin: article spinning and guest spamming. These tactic holds no value – SEO or otherwise.

He continues with advice on assuring publishers to accept guest post requests.

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This last point is the golden rule of content creation and guest blogging. Audience-focused content is the key to all forms of inbound marketing.

About the author

Dave Snyder

Dave began his career online as a well respected Internet Marketing Consultant. He has spoken around the world on the topics of search marketing and social media, and has consulted for some of the worlds largest companies on the topics. He has also been an educator and writer in past careers.

Dave’s passion shifted from a purely marketing focus as he worked with more and more entrepreneurs to build profitable companies, to the creation, construction, and management of startups. This passion was the inspiration behind SteelCast.