Semalt: What Links Cause SEO Penalties?

Search engine optimization (SEO) experts understand the importance of link building. Essentially, link building is one of the cornerstones of effective SEO strategy. This is because Google's algorithm relies a lot on inbound links to determine website's authority that influences organic search rankings.

Links are a critical factor in increasing brand visibility and referral traffic. In spite of this, a recent survey indicates that only 62 percent of all marketers are engaged in link building. So, why some marketers avoid pursuing this strategy? Andrew Dyhan, the Customer Success Manager of Semalt Digital Services explains the factors, which make link building a critical aspect of SEO.

Fear of Google penalization is the primary reason why many marketers avoid building links. It is quite fair, however, in most cases, this threat is overrated. Google's penalization bases on Google's Penguin update. According to this update, if you build links that violate Google's terms of service, the search engine will respond in a form of burying your website in a deep sea of content where users won't find you. This translates into less traffic and low rankings. So, what are the unhealthy links that earn you penalties?

Links from bad sites

Links from low-authority sources and spammy sites are the first type of links you want to avoid. At the most basic level, the value of a link is determined by the authority of the site it emanated from. In other words, if you source links from high authority sites, you command more authority on your site. On the other hand, if you build links from a questionable or spammy site, the authority of your domain takes a beating.

Contextually inappropriate links

Unlike the past, Google's algorithms are advanced enough to detect how content fits the needs of the audience and the natural use of language. In simple words, if you link to content that has nothing to do with the piece, Google will flag you down and punish you for trying to mislead users.

Keyword-stuffed links

Initially, it was common practice to include keywords in the anchor text of your links. Today, doing that might get you penalized by Google because SEO enthusiasts started abusing the practice by stuffing keywords into links where they did not belong. In spite of this, you can still optimize your anchor text, however, it must be contextually appropriate for the link.

Spammed links

Spammy links include posting comments on a forum with just a link to your website and no other content. Why? Because the main goal of such a link is to drive traffic to your site without giving any value to readers. In addition, Google can penalize you if you place links on the same pages of the site repeatedly.

Links from schemes

Any link you build with the sole intention of driving traffic to your site without giving the user any valuable information is suspect and subject to Google penalties. There are a number of such links including reciprocal links and link wheels where the intention is to pass authority to sites within the wheel. To find out what Google considers as link schemes, read their article on the subject to avoid getting in trouble with the search engine.

Other techniques of manipulating site rankings

Normally, Google's main aim is to reduce the possibility of SEO enthusiasts manipulating their site rankings using links. As long as you are using links in a way that is beneficial to users, there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are trying to use underhand methods to drive traffic and manipulate rankings, you are setting yourself up for Google's penalization on your site.

Ultimately, an official Google penalty is a manual action similar to blacklisting. This is what strikes fear in every webmaster but most of the time, Google's heavy hand only comes down on intentional offenders. However, webmasters often panic and think they have been penalized when their site experience a drop in traffic. But if you avoid running afoul of Google's mode of operation or work with the specialized SEO services provider, who technically track your website's performance, you will have nothing to worry about.