SEO: Link Building in Depth – Building Links – Two Types

General Jan 28, 2013 No Comments

Link BuildingI like to think of linking as two separate games, creating two different types of links. These two groups may be thought of as the real links on the one hand and fake or contrived links on the other.

What do I mean by real links? The real thing, a real link, is a type of link that the major search engines really want to see. It’s a link pointing to your website from another site, but it exists because the owner of that other website really wants to create a link.

The owner has found the reference page to be in some way useful or amusing or interesting or engaging in some manner. These are the sort of links that the search engines are most interested in because they are genuine votes for your site.

On the other hand, there is the fake links. Not fake in the sense that the link is somehow not real in the technical structural sense, they are real HTML links, but fake in the sense that the purpose for the link is fake. The link isn’t there because the person owning the site linking to yours particularly cares for your site. The link is there because you want it there and have somehow managed to convince the site owner to place a link on his site pointing to yours. Or put it another way, because the site linking to your site has some kind of incentive to place the link there.

Here is example of what I think of as a real link. Let us say, you create a glossary of terms related to your business, something genuinely useful to other people in your industry. A few bloggers discover the glossary think it’s worth talking about so they mention it in their blogs and link to it. Those are real links, this kind of strategy, building something on your site in order to encourage people to link to it is often known by the term link bait.

On the other hand let’s say you buy links, you pay other site owners to link to your site. Those are the fake kind of links. The site owners don’t really care about your site they don’t care what the link is pointing to. They are simply placing the link in exchange for money. Of course, it’s often difficult for the search engines to determine the difference between a real link and fake link which is why fake links often work well, though not always and why the whole fake link business is so big.

Here is an example, let’s say you pay a blogger to write about your site and link to it. How can Google for instance tell the difference between a real link to your really useful link bait and a fake link to a not so useful site that was placed in return for cash? Often it can’t, which represents a huge dilemma for the search engine companies because on the one hand they have tried to discourage fake links in particular the purchasing of links yet at the same time they reward the strategy. Millions of sites have done very well using a variety of strategies for building fake links. In fact, mostly link campaigns are really fake link campaigns. It’s actually often the case that a fake link is more valuable than a real link because of the problems the search engines have in distinguishing between the two.

A real link from a low page rank blog for instance will likely be less valuable than a paid link from a high page rank blog. However, in general a real link strategy is more valuable than a fake link strategy for a variety of reasons. First the search engines are continually getting better at figuring out the difference. As an example when Google discovers a site containing paid links it often devalues those links perhaps totally ignoring the links and could even remove the page from the index. Another example is reciprocal linking, while many proponents of reciprocal linking would put such links firmly in the real link category, claiming they provide value to site visitor, in fact most reciprocal linking is clearly done for SEO reasons and the search engines know it, which is why reciprocal links generally have little value these days.

There is also no fine line between real and fake links, sure on the one end there’s links to genuinely useful link bait and on other purchased links but in between there are all sorts of other things such as press releases, article syndication, friends and family links, links from partners and so on. With links getting more valuable as you move along the continuum from paid links to link bait links.

In a general sense it’s worth being aware of these two basic link strategies, real and fake links, and understanding that search engines are more interested in real than fake and are continually getting better at assessing the difference.

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