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Ethical Search Engine Optimisation - Link Building

Jan 1, 2008
This article covers the basics of why webmasters need to build links to their websites, why google penalizes people for buying links, and the best way to build links whilst staying on the right side of Google!

The old Approach to getting listed in Google - (Still practiced by some out of date SEO companies!)

It used to be recommended that to get your website lists in Googles search engine you should submit your website to Google, and as many other search engines as possible.

Whilst this (cough) May work, it is an incredibly time consuming process. Even Google themselves admit that because of the sheer number of sites submitted it can take weeks for any kind of results... and that's if anything happens at all!

Search Engine Submission Companies?

Well yes, there are companies that for a fee will submit your website to 100's or 1000's of search engines. The thing is that even this can have very little effect. Some of the search engine submission companies may even suggest you pay them a monthly fee to submit your website every month. This is also pretty useless really!

So how do I get my website listed and ranked in search engines then???

Okay, so we have told you how not to do it, and who not to throw your money at! - But what about how to get listed fast, and get good rankings?

First, forget any SEO company that guarantee's you a number one or first page position in Google. Forget any companies that tell you it better to rank high in 'lesser' search engines! Forget anyone that say's they can get you instant results!

The truth is that the inner working of the Google search algorithm is a closely guarded secret! - Google are not about to tell ANYONE how their formula works - even if they did, it is constantly being updated to bring better results, keep up with the general changes in the cyber world, and combat search engine spam and black hat SEO.

That said, we do know that a BIG part of the Google search algo covers Off Page SEO (aka backlinks!).

The basic rule is that the more backlinks you have the better. Simple eh?! (If only!)

There is more to this of course! - The best links to have are ones from relevant sites (ones that are on a similar theme or topic) and from sites that have some PageRank (PR is just one small aspect of the Google Algo... We will have an article coming up on PR soon, don't worry!)

So... to get listed, all you need to do is buy decent, quality backlinks from websites that are on the same topic as yours and that have some PageRank yes?

Well... sort of! - BUT...

Because of the huge effect backlinks like this can have on your search positions, people obviously started to buy links to their sites...

Google didn't like this and decided to try to penalise people that bought links for the purpose of raising their websites rankings. -But Why?

Some people really hated Google for doing this! - But if you look at it from Google's point of view, the whole reason that getting backlinks helps your website get higher in the Google search engine is because each backlinks is seen as a 'vote' for your website.

Using this system enabled Google to return very relevant searches for its users, because what people were talking about online was taken into account... For example:

If someone searched Google for 'motorbike training' then Google would return whatever websites were most relevant to this term. Of course if lots of people were linking to a specific site from pages that talked about 'motorbike training' then that would be an indication that the site they are linking to is about motorbike training!

The problem for Google is that if people are allowed to merely buy links to their websites, it means that their search results are open to manipulation by the highest bidder!

Now think for a moment if you were Google... Your search engine was popular because it delivered relevant results. One of the big reasons for this is the whole backlink checking system. People are starting to buy backlinks and thus manipulate their results in your search engine and there is a danger that this will mean less relevant results being displayed for your searchers... This may eventually lead to you loosing the market majority to the likes of Yahoo... Now imagine that you are making billions of days per year and this is what is at stake! - Would you not act?

Well, like it or not Google recently did!

These days if a website gets caught buying links for the purpose of manipulating their search rankings they may be penalized by Google and loose rankings in a big way!

So, is this the end of link building and Off Page SEO?

Absolutely not! No way!

Backlinks are still a HUGE part of the Google Algorithm.

The effect of having lots of backlinks (quality ones!) can still be amazing for your search engine positions. The difference is that these days you cannot simply buy backlinks and expect to sit back and watch your site soar through the Google results pages... maybe it will at first, but if you get found out you may suffer in the long term!

So how can a webmaster build backlinks these days and in the future? That's the million dollar question (or the $800 per month question in some cases!)

To effectively build backlinks and raise your website in Googles search results you have to go about your link building without aiming to raise your website in Googles search results... What? - That sounds crazy!

Well, what we mean is... if you want to raise your website in Google, stop trying so hard! - Google wants to fetch its searchers the most relevant websites... so firstly make sure that your website IS relevant. Next you need to let people know your website exists!

Google doesn't seem to have a problem with link building, so long as it's done for the right reasons. Link building should be done to raise awareness of your site, not to manipulate any algorithms. If done correctly then people will discover your website through your links, and then they will love your content so much, or find it so useful that they will start to tell others online about it. This is the whole idea that Google is based on. Relevant sites should be talked about lots by people in that niche... its natural!

Easy eh? - Hmmm... It can be, but you do have to be careful not to trigger any alarms whilst link building. The best way to link build these days??? - Hire a professional! - In the current online marketing climate it is possible to get your website penalised by Google by doing something that makes the mighty G think you are up to no good.

Examples of this are: 'sponsored links', some forms of link exchange of swapping, link farms, linking out to 'bad neighbourhood' sites, spam etc... this list is very long!

Each link you get should really be assessed for its quality and its pro's and con's.

If I hire someone to do this for me all is okay, I can't be banned right? - WRONG!

There is a ridiculous amount of link building and SEO (search engine optimisation) companies out there these days, all desperate to take your money! - Some of them are good, some are excellent and some are terrible!

I have even seen a terms and conditions page that states that the SEO Company are not liable if they get your website banned from Google!!! - Crazy or what!

If you want to find a good SEO / link building company, search Google for something like 'ethical seo expert' and maybe check the first one to three results (make sure you are checking the natural listings, and not the 'sponsored links' bit that appears at the right hand side of the results page, and sometimes at the top - if an SEO company is any good, why would they have to pay to advertise - can they not get their own website to rank!?!)

When you look at the site, try to find out what sort of link building they offer (email them if needed). It would be wise to choose a company that offers quality articles, and blog posts and other online PR work (as in Public Relations, not Page Rank!)

I hope this article has cleared things up a little!

Mike gracia
www.kingpin-seo.co.uk
About the Author
www.kingpin-seo.co.uk specializes in ethical search engine optimization and is based in the UK, serving clients across the globe.
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