At one time inbound linking was the Holy Grail of SEO management strategy. Many a site paved their way to Page 1 of Google search results pages with link online pointing back to them for one reason or another. The problem was too many sites had links there was seemingly inexplicable to anyone who considered logic a good thing.
You see search engines valued inbound links as verification that a website was an authority in its field. A link from one site meant that the site it was pointing to was being valued as a resource or authority, referring their visitors to the linked site. But pretty quickly, as site managers began to figure out how quickly they could race to Page 1 of Google search with more and more links pointing back to their domains, they began colluding to acquire links from any business that had a website of its own.
So all of a sudden you had real estate websites posting links to jewelers and visa versa, for no apparent reason. Or perhaps you had handyman sites pointing to bakeries with absolutely no real purpose. Errant links started popping up all over the web with about as much logic behind them as a parka store in Hawaii.
Just as quickly Google caught on and started scrutinizing these links and identifying where there was another link pointing back on the target site. In many cases there was, which hinted at a scheme to game the system. One business offers a link on their own site pointing to another (in many cases, unrelated) business’ website in exchange for a link from theirs pointing back. As these cases could be identified (or even assumed), both sites were hit with Google penalties, costing them valuable indexing and the traffic that goes with it.
Nowadays, inbound linking brings more scrutiny to a website than it does value. Of course, true referral links offer SEO potency, but when the reason for the link is not altogether clear, it can get your site pinged. Getting hit with penalties can mean all kinds of rigamarole to get your site back in good standing, costing the offender lots of time and in some cases money (when it takes a professional to navigate the steps back to search engine relevancy). And is it really even worth all of that?
The fact is if your content is focused on answering common questions about your product/service and industry and provides resources for your customers or clients, the inbound links will come. And they’ll be deemed genuine and of value by search engines who crawl webpages every day.
Creating good, usable content that serves your customers well is the best and most valuable way of achieving search engine success and drawing the kind of customer base your website deserves.
So beware of linking schemes of any sort. They will get sussed out and when they do, you’ll spend way too much time and energy trying to get things fixed and restore your site’s credibility and very little time running your business.
If you would like to learn more about ways we can help your business achieve prime search engine positioning with proven whitehat SEO strategies that have served our clients well in growing their brands online, call Proctor Digital at 773.664.5819. We’d love to help!