In the realm of search engine optimization, link building
refers to measures taken to increase the amount and quality of inbound links to a webpage in order to improve
the page’s or website’s search engine rankings.
What I’m close to sharing goes to be more popular than guest posting or utilizing private
blog networks to enhance program rankings in 2018.
It’s not a tactic I created myself.
neither is it one I’ve barely discovered?
I’ve followed its increasing usage throughout 2017, and now it’s finally time to write down about it.
While there are certainly ways to use the tactic legitimately,
you’ll probably guess from my headline that it’s getting used in ways I can only describe as unethical.
And it’s working incredibly well.
The reason I didn’t cover this sooner is that I fear
that shining attention on the ways it’s getting used will increase its popularity.
I’ve involved in SEO for 12 years now, and therein time I’ve seen countless link building tactics
go from some extent where they’re used with good intentions –
like guest posting on a site because you want to serve their audience – to being utilized purely for self-gain,
like sending thousands of bloggers generic articles to publish (with your links embedded).
What I’m close to sharing has already moved over from honest to unethical
(from whitehat to great, in SEO speak), and automation is undoubtedly just around the corner.
I’m scripting this article to assist people to understand why they’re now receiving emails filled with praise,
More interview requests than ever before, and congratulations for winning awards, instead of asking them to publish pre-written content.
This tactic remains on the sidelines, for now, enough so that even seasoned SEO’s won’t have seen it in action.
As sites just a couple of months old are using it to urge mentioned by big brands, I can only expect its usage to greatly increase.
The kind of websites webmasters could only dream of getting links
from are now giving them out with relative ease, and there are many potential targets able to do an equivalent.
If I were selling an SEO product with these claims, I might called a fraud.
I have nothing to sell, aside from a warning for what’s close to coming, and a private plea to Google
to curb this before it flies.
Sites I’ve found that are suddenly dominating Google immediately are following a really simple tactic:
They write articles filled with praise about other businesses –
mentioning them with links that don’t give ‘credit’ –
so that those businesses reciprocate with links that do give credit within the eyes of search engines.
If you’ve just been expecting the ‘secret’ so you’ll skim the remainder of this post, there it’s in bold.
If you’re involved within the marketing or promotion of internet sites in any way,
I hope that you simply take the time to read this, because you or your clients might be
on the receiving end of what I dub #fakelinks very soon.
I’ve seen dating sites, financial advisers, law blogs and e-Commerce stores within the wedding niche employ this tactic, among others
The websites I’ve found tend to write down over-the-top, positive reviews about companies
that are often unrelated to the business they’re in.
The targets of this strategy are websites that maintain active “In the press” or “Media” pages.
As many websites fit this description, opportunists have an outsized market to penetrate.
Before I’m going into detail on how the naïvety of others is being abused to enhance program rankings,
I would like to start with a typical example of how media and press pages currently work.
CryptoniteNXT – who I even have no affiliation with – is a replacement startup within the world of cyber defense,
specifically helping companies fight against insider threats and ‘ransomware’.
Because of the interesting work they’re doing, news websites frequently write on them.
A company from the state they cover does something interesting so that they feature them.
Being a cyber-defense firm, they aren’t expecting to travel viral on social media or noticed for her clever Facebook ads.
Instead, they need to talked about relevant websites that document their story and progress.
Millions of businesses around the world monitor the press they receive and canopy it on their site.
What’s increasingly beginning to happen is websites that might typically never write profiles on other companies –
like those which sell their anti-virus software, for instance – are now singing the praises of others, beating the name of links.
One company press, and therefore the other their coverage linked to.
If you’ve involved in SEO for a short time, you’ve probably found out that the parties who have learned the way to devour
these ‘in the press’ links aren’t doing so with the simplest of intentions.
I’ve personally found many webmasters writing about companies while linking to them with followed or redirected links (such as oursite.com/go/anothersite.com).
For those of you who are unacquainted with the Nofollow attribute,
it’s essentially how of telling search engines like Google and Bing,
“I want this link to require people to a different website, but please don’t give them any credit when it involves rankings.”
In other words, I could write a glowing review about IBM on my gadget site and put it on a neighborhood of my website which no human will likely ever find –
or mention them via a nofollowed link – then reach bent IBM to allow them to know about the review.
I give IBM a link that essentially has no value and reciprocally,
IBM gives me a link on their press page which helps catapult my rankings higher in search results.
IBM may sound sort of a far-fetched example, but this is often the type of giant company that is
“falling” for this tactic immediately.
“They approached us to write down an interview about our company’s history and that we agreed,”
said the support staff of 1 software company who have found themselves the target of such an approach.
Their homepage usually updated to link to the newest news that features them.
Getting a homepage link from a politician business website,
which itself has many links pointing thereto, is the dream of website owners who believe in search traffic.
“I’ve subjected to at least one of these myself; a great piece of ego-bait”
recalls Barry Adams, founding father of SEO agency Polemic Digital.
“It’s a reasonably good tactic if you inquire from me.
Yes, those press pieces are specifically crafted to links from high-value websites,
on the other hand, tons of
what SEO’s make their clients put out there’s created for the precise purpose of achieving backlinks.”
He continued, “Is it moral?
Well, that depends on your perspective. Is it effective? Oh yes.”
In some scenarios I’ve found, brands with multiple websites
have each written a positive review about an equivalent company;
all receiving a link from an equivalent press page of a brand you’d be conversant in.
“To confirm – during a strictly technical sense, the links indeed blocked from
Google seeing them. I just ran a crawl on one among the pages;
the link doesn’t get picked up” says Dan Shure, the founding father of Evolving SEO,
after sharing one such scenario with him privately.
Why websites link out with nofollowed or redirected links likely stems back to
the concept of sculpting PageRank, a metric Google use –
in its most elementary form – to work out the price of an internet site, and thus help to position it accurately in search results.
PageRank was developed Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996.
It’s a posh topic, but those participating in sculpting it likely believe their site retains a better ‘value’
if they don’t link out,
or they simply wish to avoid the looks of being involved in link exchanges.
The latter are some things Google has warned against since 2011 in their link schemes documentation.
Without working for Google, and even then having intimate access to their algorithm,
it’s impossible to mention whether the tactic is sensible,
but few webmasters would turn down followed links from a brand like IBM.
I’ve decided to not give any specific examples as I fear – as often seems to be the case – that
Google would simply target individual webmasters on new sites and permit established brands
to profit from doing an equivalent thing.
While I don’t accept as true with what people do,
I can’t deny it’s smart, and highlighting one or two examples isn’t getting to curb what’s happening.
If you’re a fellow marketer and would like to verify my claims so I don’t need to ‘out’ anybody,
an example search query you’ll start with is “Inurl:in-the-press” (without the quotes).
You can also try changing the timeframe of results (Tools > Past Week) to only return such pages which are actively updated.
Start browsing the results and you’ll find an equivalent company targeted over and once again,
giving out links that not reciprocated within the press they receive.
Note: To further protect those that I don’t accept as true with but don’t feel I should target,
that example query isn’t one I want to find my very own instances of this happening,
but it’s an honest start line.
Would content marketing be as relevant?
Which ranking signals could we glance for rather than follow links?
wouldn’t it make Google’s job harder and encourage them to require action?
If anyone covers such an angle, please be happy to email me or post it within the comments below,
as I might like to read it.
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