September 2, 2011
Link Building and ‘Bad Neighbourhoods’
Many online businesses drive some of their most valuable traffic through Search Engine Optimisation. An integral part of this process is establishing high quality and relevant links from other high authority websites to yours, in order to help push your website up the rankings.
When another website links to your website it acts like a recommendation and suggests to the search engines that your site is good quality, relevant and trustworthy. Best practice for building these links is to do it manually – so you know exactly where you are getting your links from. But this is a laborious process, which is why there are now a number of software options to help. However – beware! – the use of some automated programs could potentially be harmful to your optimisation efforts, resulting in ranking falls rather than gains.
SEO is about the quality and relevancy of links rather than the pure number of links. Using ‘black hat’ methods (such as software you have no real control over) could result in your website being heavily connected to ‘bad neighbourhoods’ and being plunged down the rankings. You will most likely at some point have inadvertently stumbled across a bad neighbourhood, typified by multiple pop-up adverts, vast numbers of links and a lack of quality content. So, in general they are easy to identify and avoiding them can often simply be achieved by using ‘white hat’ methods and being entirely aware of what you are linking your website to.
Google wants the search process to be organic and they themselves confirm the potential repercussions, stating the following on their Webmaster website:
“Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase you website’s ranking. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighbourhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.”
The best way to use link building to your advantage is to do it properly. There are plenty of people offering shortcuts to the process, but it is often the case that they end up being more time consuming and costly in the long run. So stick to best practice when it comes to link building, keep in good company and don’t get in with the out crowd.