July 31, 2013
Every day I hear from confused people trying to market their websites online who tell me how they've "gotten themselves" all sorts of links from all sorts of places, but their sites still can't be found in Google.
They're dumbfounded that those keyword-rich anchor text links they placed on those Blogspot blogs that they registered for free don't help their search engine rankings. After all, it's not as if they have the NoFollow tag (attribute) on them. Plus, they also did some "content marketing" and placed links to various pages of their sites on a bunch of Wordpress.com blogs (that they created themselves). And they're always putting out media releases describing specific services or products they offer, AND they pay extra for the ability to add as many keyworded links as possible within them. There are even "do follow" links that get republished by all kinds of important sounding publications.
So what's the problem? Why can't they seem to get ahead in Google?
The answer is simple. They're using old-school pre-Panda/Penguin linking techniques that may have worked at one point (albeit probably not for the long haul), but which are highly unlikely to be given even a passing glance from Google nowadays.
Any link you can place by yourself is not a link as far as Google is concerned. Certainly not in the PageRank passing sense. Sure, they will crawl those links and they will most likely even show them as links to your site in your Google Webmaster Tools account. But they also show links that have the NoFollow attribute on them, and according to Google, those don't pass PageRank.
Google certainly wouldn't want your own strategically placed links to count as real (PageRank-passing) links to your site because they aren't. Just as Google doesn't consider paid links to be the type they want to provide you with link juice, links that you place yourself don't fall in line with the whole "links as a vote" ideal that helped Google become the leading search engine in the universe.
Forget About "SEO Link Building"
Remember that out of the hundreds of factors and signals that Google looks at to determine the relevancy of any page in their index, it all boils down to two major components:
But it's the second one -- what others say about you -- that is important for our purposes today. The very idea of using links as a signal came about as a way to learn what other people were saying about websites and businesses. Back links were the key way to judge this. Theoretically, if lots of people or websites were linking to particular pages of a website, they were saying, "Hey everyone, here's a great site / service / product / article. I totally recommend it."
Google (and everyone else) already knows that you recommend your own site. Of course you do. It's your baby that you've nurtured since birth. They know you love it and think it's the best site in the world and that it should be showing up in the number one spot for anything even remotely related to it. (You also think your kids are the best-behaved little geniuses in the world, but that doesn't make it true!)
But when it comes to links, Google doesn't care what you think. Because you can't be trusted!
They want to know what others think.
So if you're trying to rank your site higher in Google, forget about wasting your time trying to get links that you can place for yourself. They really don't care. At best they will ignore them. At worst, they'll slap you with an "unnatural links" penalty.
Instead, spend your time first having something worth linking to.
After you have that (and that's really the hard part), you need to let others know it exists -- others who are in a position to recommend it. In other words, market the heck out of it to your target audience!
Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen
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