Has your website been slapped by Google’s latest updates? Did that link building campaign you worked so hard for—the same one that allowed you to dominate your niche before 2013—suddenly become useless? Worse, are those same links you spent hours getting the very reason why you fell out of rankings?
It’s little consolation, but you are not alone. Millions of webmasters are reeling from the aftermath of Google’s algorithm changes, which essentially annihilated websites that thought they were ‘dong the right thing’ before the wrath of Panda.
The constant algorithm changes have people asking if search engine optimization (SEO) is still relevant. Some even go as far to say that maybe—just maybe—SEO is dead.
The Good News
SEO isn’t dead. No—it’s just changing.
And no, Google isn’t mad at you. It’s not being ‘unfair,’ either. It’s just doing its job—that is, it’s cleaning the internet of spam.
The new Panda update rewards websites that work hard on developing their brands and putting their customers first. It looks at quality content and brand signals154179, such as social shares and links.
If you tried to ‘beat’ the algorithm with tricks, spam, and schemes, then you probably lost your rankings.
But with some remedies, it is possible to go back on top. And with some preparation and good old SEO, you don’t have to dread future algorithm changes. Let FreeRelevantLinks show you the way.
Some Things Never Change...
To make sense of what SEO is today, we went back in time and charted some of the tipping pints in its history over the past two decades—from the big changes caused by Google’s updates to some of the lesser-known factors that affected SEO evolution. More specifically, we looked at how important links are, and whether they are still relevant today.
What we saw was very interesting. Despite the frequent overhauls in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, some fundamentals remain the same: Relevant links will always be good for rankings.
Getting inbound links naturally will still boost optimization and deliver high-conversion traffic, and this is unlikely to change. To know how to do this, join our Webmaster’s Union.
The Evolution of Search
Search engines weren’t always around, but now it’s hard to imagine the world without them. They are technically just a little over two decades old, but they’ve become important part of everyday life. They have given people access to unlimited knowledge. They have given us ‘superpowers’ we never had before.
Google, Yahoo, Bing—they have all changed how we find information, connect with our friends and family, and more importantly from a marketer’s perspective, how we search for services and products. We are no longer passive consumers who were just waiting to see advertisements to realize we needed something. We are now active consumers. We now seek out information about what we want to buy, and we do it all online.
Formally and informally, webmaster ‘guidelines’ began to take shape. So called SEO experts figured out ways to make Google and other search engines find, index, and rank their websites. This included methods on optimizing content and meta tags with keywords, and of course, linking.
The Rise and Fall of Linking
Links have been around since the inception of the internet, one of the first practices of link sharing was called the "webring."
In the 90′s, they were in their heyday. Back when Yahoo was the dominant directory, these communities of similar sites enabled users to find other related websites and gave webmasters click-through traffic as users jumped from one site to another.
Today, many webmasters consider webrings useless. Some even claim that just the mere act of soliciting webrings on your website can get you into trouble from a policing algorithm. But are they right?
First, let’s take a look at exactly what webrings are.
Webrings are essentially clubs of associated websites grouped in circular rings, where each website is linked to another with simple navigation bars, allowing users to navigate randomly, backwards, forwards, skip, or see the entire list of all the websites listed on the ring.
Before Panda, webmasters saw webrings as their ticket to ranking well. And for many years, they were successful. Webmasters who took part in webrings began to notice their online rankings starting to climb as Google's algorithm supported relevant website linking.
However, this also led to abuse. It set off the world of ‘blog networks’ and ‘inbound link farms’ designed to drive rankings through unnatural linking processes.
Many webmasters took part in link and content spamming. India played a huge part in this trend; in fact, about 71% of SEO keyword search index comes from India where thousands of workers send emails and call centers cold-call business owners by the thousands, creating a flat rate price for inbound link building. Over the last 10 years, India’s level of participation in the SEO industry climbed to new heights, making it the #1 country for outsourced SEO link building projects.
Other dishonest SEO techniques proliferated, including automatically-generated content, scraped content, cloaking, hidden links or texts, sneaky redirects, doorway pages, irrelevant keywords, phishing and other badware, and link schemes.
This abuse littered the internet with spam websites that offer no value to the user. It enabled ‘bad’ websites, while those that offer good content remained in the backwaters.
Google Penalizes Websites Using Link Schemes
In response to these illicit practices, Google released quality guidelines. In theory, abiding by these guidelines can prevent your website from getting penalized—that is, get removed from the search index or otherwise be affected by manual or algorithmic spam action.
These quality guidelines laid down the law on everything from design to content to technical facets of a website, but in this article, we focus on one thing:
Google’s crackdown on link schemes.
A link is considered a part of a link scheme if it is intended to manipulate PageRank or search results ranking. Google essentially banned the following practices:
Selling and buying links for PageRank. Webmasters were no longer allowed to exchange money or goods for links or content containing links. Sending another website owner a 'gift' or product in exchange for a link has also been disallowed.
Extreme link exchanges. Cross-linking is suddenly taboo. It used to be that webmasters can engage in link-to-me-and-I-link-to-you arrangements. Now, this is frowned upon.
Extensive article marketing with keyword-rich anchor text links. Extreme guest posting is now also forbidden.
In July 2013, Google again quietly updated its ‘link schemes’ guidelines to add ‘unnatural inks’ to the list of link types that supposedly violate its guidelines. Webmasters are no longer allowed to create unnatural links not editorially vouched for, such as:
Advertorials where payments are received for PageRank links
Text ads that pass PageRank
Anchor-optimized links in press releases or articles distributed to other websites
Low-quality bookmark or directory site links
Widely-distributed footer links
Forum comments containing optimized links
Many internet marketers were surprised by Google’s penalty on guest posts. The search engine may now take action if you post a guest blog in a low-quality network with the sole intention of gaining a link into your website. It’s no longer ‘cool’ to use keyword-rich anchor texts in your author box, so be warned.
Another surprise was Google’s hatred of advertorials, which from now on can no longer contain ‘follow’ links. Even major e-commerce websites got slapped for using advertorials to gain incoming links.
And of course, there’s a whole new confusion about press releases. According to Google, links containing optimized anchor texts in press releases that are distributed on other websites violate their guidelines. If you intend to publish a press release on your site and then share it through a press release site or newswire, make sure that the your links are nofollow.
Welcome to the Age of Natural Linking
Here’s the thing. Link exchange per se is not dead. Links are still—and will always be—valuable. Just look at how many sales leads are from links, and you will agree.
However, you can no longer look at link building from the same outdated SEO-driven mentality. Times have changed, and Google’s algorithms are no longer simple formulas that are easy to manipulate. As a webmaster, you need to exercise caution and make smarter linking decisions. Here’s a quick guide.
Do not do a link exchange:
to boost your Pagerank
to boost your search rankings
Instead, do a link exchange:
because the visitor you will gain from that link likely to be truly interested in your product/service
because the link will provide a relevant resource that is truly useful to your audience
One of the best ways to gain top-quality, relevant links from other websites is to create good content that will naturally increase your website’s popularity in the web community. You want to go after ‘editorial votes’ instead of just links. The more useful your content, the higher the chances of someone will link to it.
Our Secret Sauce
The dynamic formula we use in our themed business directory follows Google’s fundamental guidelines to ensure continued success for everyone, no matter what new algorithms come along.
To join our themed business directory, your website needs to be thoroughly reviewed by our staff. If you get accepted, you will start to receive relevant links from related websites—a few each day until you reach hundreds. Exactly how many links you will receive will depend on your category—you may get anywhere from five to five hundred relevant links for free over a period of three months, and more as we grow our webmasters’ union.
As a member, you get access to a control panel and tracking system that will show you all the relevant website that link to you.
While the directory looks clean and simple from outside, it’s actually a complex technology developed over a decade. Our themed business directory semi-automates the linking processes. This efficiency has allowed us to grow our union to 38,000 member-websites and over 5 million links.
Many of our members have been with us for over 10 years. They have all survived Penguin and Panda, and have even flourished with these new algorithm updates!
We only automate the tedious and time-consuming link-building tasks, but all members are still subject to stringent human reviews. This ensures that our directory never turns into a link farm. We satisfy Google’s ‘editorial vetting’ requirements and produce only natural links—exactly what this search engine giant is looking for.
Our themed business directory is not designed completely replace your current search engine optimization or internet marketing campaign. What we offer is a supplemental service that will help you rank well and survive Google’s updates.
Our technology has become one of the best relevant linking services for improving and maintaining Google rankings as well as obtaining bigger traffic shares. Use it correctly and it will boost your website’s rank for any niche.
Join Our Webmasters’ Union
Sick of worrying about your website being annihilated by the next Google update? Afraid that all your link building efforts will go to waste when the next Penguin or Panda comes along?
It’s time you joined our Webmasters’ Union.
Be one of over 38,000 member-websites that have survived and even prospered through all of Google’s algorithm changes!