SEO is no more a playground for Tom, Dick and Harry. The days have gone when a couple of mail exchanges and a little chit chat was good enough to build loads of links. That was a time when neither Google nor client would have questioned you on the quality issues. Today they do. Every link you build counts. QC (Quality Check) is everywhere.
I still remember how a group of freelancers and a few cheap SEO service providers used to take this opportunity and did no better than spam.
Today the situation is grave . Google is after those web culprits. It does not matter if you accused of doing spam or not, you have to look out for quick revival.
The best way to survive this heat of Google updates is to start fresh. You just cannot do the same as you have been doing for years. Penalties are inevitable. Whether you are collecting directory links or doing guest posting for contextual links, you really need to be on toe.
This post is dedicated to link builders and content marketers who want to revise their link building strategies and start fresh. It is imperative that you consult only good quality link resources that Google values.
Following are the checklists you can apply while rebuilding links.
Checklist for Directories:
Google does not like directories that exist only for passing PageRank or are used to inflate anchor text based back links without adding any value to an end user. Directories which are frequented by users and provide value are not a problem. Experts in the SEO community still maintain that directories are important and should be included in the overall strategy.
We should blacklist directories which are not relevant and do not meet Quality criteria.
Good quality can be established by:
1. Checking a domain’s history for 10+ years (often webmasters buy questionable sites and convert them into different sites, which Google might not like due to their questionable profile/history)
2. Checking the number of pages indexed vs. number of pages present on site.Only websites that have most of their pages indexed should be used. (Websites with a low index ratio clearly imply that they are not favored by Google and should be avoided)
3. Sites which have excessive AdSense presence or have multiple banner ads are to be avoided. Post the Panda update, Google has been penalizing websites that have been created with the sole aim of advertising. Adverts on sites we do use should not push the content down to below the fold.
4. Cache Frequency is considered, if the homepage hasn’t been cached for a month or two is should be avoided.
5. Linking Ratio (Number of outbound Links vs. Number of inbound Links). If websites are only linking out, but no one is linking to them (according to the Majestic Historic Index) then it’s a cause for concern and such websites should be avoided.
6. Quality of the links pointing to potential linking sites. If the sites we are thinking of getting a link from have links from gambling, casino and porn sites they should be avoided, as should sites with nudity. The domain name should also be considered in the same way. We also need to check if primarily directories are linking back to the site or are there are legitimate websites too.
7. Sites that appear to have WMT (Webmaster Central Tool) are preferred, you check for verification tagging on the home page
8. Header request responses are 200 OK, there are no redirects or errors.
9. Check whether the directory’s IP has ever been blacklisted by any spam database.
10. Reject sites that link to illegal sites (gambling / pornography etc.)
11. Allow sites which review websites manually and only accept those which list safe and quality websites
12. Directory root domains should not contain words like “Link” “Porn” “paid” “submit” “SEO” “rank”as these are the lower quality directories where we have seen sites penalized as a result of having links from.
13. The site has at least around 50 pages
14. There is content on the directory site somewhere, it is not built primarily for building links
Checklist for Blogs:
The following is a set of criteria to find and evaluate blogs:
1. Use Google Alerts to set up alerts for specific niches and topics – The selection of terms should be modified to ensure that you do not get very generic results
2. Monitor those Alerts for relevant blogs/websites
3. Once a relevant blog shortlist has been created go through a similar set of Quality criteria as with directories:
4. Content must be present on the domain
5. Site must have a working homepage
6. Each post must be linked from the home page (or index page) and not from an orphan page or hidden page.
7. Is that content very specific to one topic or do they have diverse topics
8. Number of indexed pages vs. number of pages present on the website
9. Number of inbound links according to Majestic Historic Index
10. Type of inbound links (Is it a natural link profile or are they primarily acquiring links from directories/spammy websites)
11. Presence of Ads. Sites with too many ads should not be the first priority.
12. IP history and server information of the blog
13. Relatively good Cache Frequency
14. Site must be relevant to the theme of the guest blog post content you have
Following this list of criteria may seem a bit intimidating initially. However you sure will get the result in the long run. Once a site passes all these criteria, you can contact the webmaster or the site owner for further steps.
Do good and feel better. Help Google! Google will help you in turn.