As bloggers, links are our bread and butter. The more people who link to us, the better we feel about ourselves and the more respect we get from the search engines (okay, Google).
On the surface, it seems pretty simple but this stopped being about simple numbers a long time ago. Today you still want as many links as possible but you want those links to come from legitimate and “good” sources.
“Good” isn’t a qualifier attached just to inbound links. It is also important that, as a blogger, you make sure that you only link out to “good” sites too. If your outbound links are sketchy or questionable, you run the risk of getting your site blocked—not just by Google and the other search engines but by social media networks and even malware protection software too.
Wait: Software and Social Media are Deciding if Our Links Are Legit?
It’s true. According to TrendMicro, if your antivirus software discovered a threat (or a link that it thinks looks like a threat) it could block the site from the user. It might also label it as potentially dangerous when the site turns up in a Google search or when a link to your site is published elsewhere on the web.
There are whole forums devoted to people having this problem on Facebook and Google’s “safe search” tool has been causing problems for a while.
Making Sure Your Inbound Links Are Good
We’ve talked before about using Google’s Disavow tool to make sure that Google knows that you don’t want certain or specific links included in your link profile. Another method you can use to make sure that your inbound link profile is problem free is to contact the site owners directly. Explain to the site owner that Google is penalizing you for the link they’ve published and ask them to take it down.
If they refuse to take down the link you can ask them to code the link as “no follow” so that Google will skip it. If they still refuse, well, there’s that Disavow tool we talked about.
Making Sure You’re Linking Out to Good Sites
This is a little bit more complicated. Obviously you want to make sure that your outbound links are contextually relevant—remember, Google checks for link relevancy now. You can also do the following things:
Make “no follow” your default outbound link setting so that Google will simply skip the links you’ve got on your site. Only “do follow” sites you’ve already checked out to make sure that Google deems them worthy of indexing or that they are problem free.
Enable Google Authorship for any guest posts that you published. Google is now giving an advantage to sites that use the Google Authorship tool.
Do not link to link wheels or participate in them. Google started cracking down on link wheels a year ago.
Only link out to authority and highly ranked Google sites. Source links from major media outlets are high authority links. “CheepContent4U4EVA.HAHA” is not an authority link. The easiest way to tell whether or not something will be considered an authority link is to look at its unique content to advertising ratio. More unique content is good. More ads and lots of duplicate content or content curation is bad.
Look at old links too. It’s easy to implement these things going forward but Google cares about your whole site, not just what you publish starting now. Use a link checking tool to see all of your outbound links and, if something looks suspicious, remove it or make it a “no follow” link. It’ll take time, but that will be time well spent.
In spite of most SEO articles focusing on inbound links and their profiles, the way you link out matters too! Use these tips to make sure your whole link profile is healthy.