POV: New Webmaster violations for link building tactics

On July 18th 2013, Google released revised definitions of link building tactics they consider to be in violation of Webmaster Guidelines.

Sites that violate Webmaster Guidelines can experience:

  1. Severe Decreases in Page Ranking
  2. Removal of Entire Sites From Search Results

External linking is extremely important in SEO, and our mantra is “quality over quantity.” Link building offers slow moving but fantastic benefits in the end. In addition to stand-alone link building efforts—which can be time consuming, lack customization, and have limited return—we work with our clients to build linking into everything they do digitally. This includes working with internal PR efforts, social media, blogging, and/or editorial teams and with digital assets such as PDFs.

Our approach to link building is based on thorough human analysis, gaining insights from the best tools, and leveraging existing long-term relationships with relevant partners for your business.  Link building should build out your link profile to gain competitive advantage and renting links of investing all your effort in one link building technique is never suggested.

The criteria outlined below describe what is now determined as a violation of the Webmaster Guidelines for link building:

Items that Violate Webmaster Guidelines

It is important to take notice of the two key identifiers Paid Links and Keyword Rich Anchor Text that search engines are looking at to identify sites in violation of Webmaster Guidelines.

Can brands still engage in advertorials, guest posting and article syndication?

Yes, however it is necessary to rel=”nofollow” the link or disavow the links in webmaster tools to avoid any penalties from the search engines. This virtually eliminates the value of these tactics from a link building perspective.

Suggested next steps

  1. Education and Verification Process:
  • Review the above Webmaster Guidelines best practices internally and with your cross-agency partners.
  • Implement revised optimization best practices for PR, Social and Digital Media to client/agency teams.
    • Focus on limiting keyword rich anchor text to 2-3 per page
    • Rel=”nofollow” paid syndication (Guest Blogging, PR Web, Advertorials, etc)

Link Audit:

  • Execute a link audit to evaluate if your site could be considered in violation of webmaster guidelines.
  • Check the new Manual Actions section of Google Webmaster Tools.
    • This tool will highlight if there are penalties being enforced again the entire site, certain pages, or if Google has found unnatural links coming to your site.
    • Review backlink profile/link building strategies for the year