How Can You Tell If a Link Is Secure?
The search engines make it very obvious which links are acceptable to them.
Almost every week, I see someone in an online discussion forum asking, “How can I know whether these are hazardous links?” or “How to recognize PBNs?”
That second query was sent to the Dumb SEO Questions Facebook group earlier this week, but it isn’t the first time someone has posed a question of this nature.
PBNs (Private Blog Networks) were previously the most common source of purchased links, but they’ve been surpassed by what I’ll refer to as guest blog markets.
Unlike PBNs, which are often controlled centrally, guest post markets function as brokers.
They don’t purchase or sell the connections, but rather facilitate the transactions.
Are “safe” brokered connections possible?
No, not at all.
Any website that sells links, whether through a brokerage, a private blog network, or directly, violates search engine standards.
If you want “safe” links — that is, links that will not get your site into problems — you must understand the search engine guidelines and get links that do not violate those criteria.
And, in case you’re wondering what that implies, any sponsored link is NOT “safe.”
You may not get caught purchasing (or selling) links, but it is also not a safe practice in terms of what occurs in search engine indexes.
People perform so many backlink audits these days that you’d think there’d be a common protocol for doing so.
Of all, there are no SEO industry standards, so anybody may describe how to do a backlink audit, and there is no way to prove if they are correct or incorrect.
It’s the Wild West out there, so be cautious about who you trust for SEO guidance (or pay for).
However, link audits usually begin with gathering as much backlink data as possible from as many sources as possible.
If you’re evaluating backlinks for a new customer, ask them what links they’ve previously earned.
This is a bit of a trick question.
You should be aware of whether a new client has already paid for connections.
Request that they provide you with a list of all the links they’ve gained, as well as an explanation of how they obtained those links.
Pull backlinks from Bing Toolbox and Google Search Console next.
Neither search engine guarantees to show you all of the links it is aware of.
Neither search engine can tell you which links have been indexed by the other.
But obtain as much connection info as you can from both of them.
If you want to go the extra mile, get a link report from Yandex as well.
Again, Yandex cannot tell you which connections Bing and Google are aware of, nor which links the other search engines trust.
Finally, to complete your backlink data, obtain at least one backlink report from your preferred SEO tool supplier.
The most popular SEO tools create their indexes.
They have no idea which links the search engines are aware of, or whether those links have any value in the search indexes.
However, major SEO tools offer (automatic) views on the quality of those links.
Automated link evaluations are intriguing and may even be useful, but don’t assume that just because an SEO tool says a link is spam or harmful, it is.
I examined several of these so-called spammy, harmful links (as defined by SEO tools) and discovered that they were neither.
I’ve always used the term “poison links” to refer to links that a search engine claims are part of the problem that has resulted in a human intervention (a penalty).
As a result, if you don’t have a penalty (i.e., no manual action notification), you don’t have ANY harmful connections.
However, this is simply one definition.
Consider any SEO tool’s classification of links as harmful or spam to be only an opinion.
It’s an educated guess, but only in the sense that it’s based on data gathered by the SEO tool’s system.
That data doesn’t tell us anything about whether search engines discovered, indexed, or flagged such connections as potentially harmful in any manner.
Any link that is not included in a search index cannot be considered “toxic” or “spammy.”
Once you’ve compiled a list of websites that connect to your client’s website, investigate whether those websites promote their availability for paid guest blogging (or any other kind of paid link).
If the sites supplying links do not promote, there are alternative options.
A site that invites guest pieces, for example, is prone to publishing a lot of low-quality content.
It’s not very informative, well-informed, or perceptive.
The great majority of nummero who rely on these types of links are unconcerned about producing really helpful material for the sites that accept their submissions.
The inconsistency in content quality on blogs that sell a lot of guest pieces is also rather clear.
Some authors are more talented than others.
Furthermore, certain authors get compensated more for producing higher-quality articles.
Paid links are more likely to employ targeted or preferred anchor text.
An editorial link is unlikely to employ anchor text such as “the top sites for SEO” or “how to get the best discounts in 2021.”
It’s probably spamming if the link anchor matches a query that someone wants to rank for.
As a result, they only look for anchors that match the names of their pages.
However, if other outbound links on a blog are spammy, title-matching anchors are likely to be as well.
If you’re merely looking for links or trying to earn them, blogs that appear to have been assembled in a “blog factory” (that is, the owner paid someone for a readymade site) have a cheap, quirky appearance.
They don’t appear fully natural, even if you can’t put your finger on why.
Website design does not necessarily have to complicated, but it should always have personal touches.
It might in the photos used on the site, in the ornamental graphics, or the accidental phrasing used by the author throughout the blog.
Even if a professional nummero’s blog is lean and mean, there are generally clues that a genuine person is putting time and attention into the site (or did in the past).
People that pay great attention to their websites tend to correct a lot of little issues or add flourishes that you won’t find on pre-packaged Websites.
Perhaps the margins and footer are crammed with additional information and navigational links.
I’m not talking about tag clouds, category lists, or default archives.
I’m referring to links that the blog owner decided to emphasize in the hopes of attracting the attention of readers.
If you’re considering requesting a site for a link — for example, as part of a link reclamation plan when you’ve discovered old broken links — the site’s design may be the first hint that you don’t want a link from the site, even if it’s free.
Someone who previously sold a lot of links may have sold the site after it became useless, and the new owner may not (yet) notice that those old connections are affecting its search performance.
An honest link makes a straightforward promise: here is something I’d like to share.
If the link is unrelated to the content in which it is placed, it is most likely spam.
Indeed, search engines describe “irrelevant links” as differences between the context of the link and its destination.
You would imagine that “important connections are located on related sites” (i.e., bicycle sites only link to bicycle sites, etc.),
but the fact is more complex for a search algorithm.
A natural link from a news story or encyclopedia article might be supporting an obscure talking point in an article that has nothing to do with the primary theme of the destination.
They are at times.
More often than not, natural linkages are offered as citations to sources, allusions to instances of recently expressed arguments, or “aside-style” (by the way) statements.
The link may the only material in a question and answer setting (such as a forum or social media conversation), and the context is supplied in a prior remark or social post.
The links that most individuals are likely to disavow natural links that were not purchased.
There is no bigger irony than that in many link building/disavowing techniques.
If you’ve ever wondered why search engines fail to find genuinely good links, this is frequently the explanation.
Marketers continue to trash excellent links because they have no idea where they originated from or why they exist.
Many people, I’m sure, are asking themselves, “Why would anyone want to connect to a site without compensated?”
Someone once asked me that question during a forum debate on how to recognize natural linkages.
I’m not sure what he’s up to these days…
Yes, there are billions of strange-looking auto generated connections that you have no clue why they exist.
Some sites scrape a lot of material and collect a lot of links along with it.
Some websites purposefully obtain the information fragments or RSS feed snippets that they utilize for their material.
I’ve never renounced this kind of tie.
I’ve never felt compelled to do so.
I’m not claiming that all auto generated connections are beneficial.
They’re unlikely to do you any benefit, but they’re also not necessarily terrible for you.
Use the disavow tools with caution.
There is rarely a need to disavow odd-looking connections.
However, if you are ready to risk losing PageRank-like value, disavow links that annoy you so you can sleep well at night.
Don’t torture yourself with self-doubt and second-guessing.
Just keep in mind that NOT disavowing the links you paid for isn’t the most secure technique.
“Why does this link exist?” is the finest inquiry you can ask about any link.
If the motive is self-serving, it’s probably spam (site-internal links excluded).
The link appears to meant to help with rankings in any manner, consider it spam.
If the link is posted on a site that looks to selling links, the search engines will consider the link to spam.
If you purchase links because “everyone else is doing it,” consider yourself a spammer, knowingly and purposely breaking search engine criteria,
And be aware that your links are not “safe” in any way, shape, or form
If “safe” means “they won’t ignore by or result in a search engine penalty.”