Link building is one of the key aspects of SEO and must be done properly to stay in good books of Google. Any time Google comes across bad back link in your profile or detects non-adherence to quality guidelines, it may impose a penalty on your website. Whether these mistakes are intentional or unintentional, a penalty is always damaging for your business.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep an eye on your backlinking strategy and profile all the time so that you can safeguard your website against penalties. At the same time, you need to be aware about the kinds of penalties that you may have to bear due to wrong practices so that you can sideline them completely. Here is all that you need to know about link penalties, their types and resolution.
Understanding link penalty
To start with, you need to understand what exactly a link penalty is and how it can happen to you. Primarily, you may be penalized anytime when you violate the guidelines listed by Google as an attempt to manipulate your rankings. Since Google prioritizes organic links, anything unnatural in your backlink profile will be a big red flag. When they detect one, they will either lower your ranking or even remove you from the index as a penalty. These scenarios can be fatal for a website because you may be visible nowhere and years of hard work may be wasted.
Following the best practices is the only way you can save yourself from Google’s wrath. But there are times when something inadvertent may lead to a penalty. For this reason, it is important to stay on your toes and keep track of penalties so that you can resolve the issues instantly. Continual link monitoring, regular audits and a constant eye on bad links are the practices that can help you in speedy detection and resolution for preventing these penalties. Additionally, you need to know about the reasons that may lead to penalties.
Types of link penalties that you should be careful about
Link penalties are detrimental for your website’s health. So you need to know them better so that you can steer clear of them. As a rule of thumb, focus on securing high-quality, natural backlinks from reputed sources in your niche. Also, there are some practices that you need to avoid.
Perhaps, the most dangerous practice from the penalty perspective is link spamming. These include over-optimized links that are created in the comment sections of irrelevant forums and blogs. Such links are neither natural nor do they deliver any value for the user. Rather than making spam links, you should focus on building some by selective commenting on relevant and authoritative forums and blogs in your niche.
Another practice that may land you in trouble is creating promotional links that serve no value but rather focus entirely on selling. In the article from SEOJet entitled 8 Most Common Link Building Myths And Mistakes SEO Agencies Make, Adam White explains that one way to avoid unnatural link penalties from Google is to not build promotional links to service or product pages.
Google absolutely despises the practice of buying and selling backlinks and anyone who does that is bound to be penalized. Even the established brands will get the penalty if they do so. As an exception, you may purchase a few from extremely relevant websites that have high domain authority. But make sure that it includes the link in a very natural way. Still, it is advisable to stick to the rule by not buying any back link.
Excessive reciprocal links
While buying links can be problematic, so can be the practice of creating too many reciprocal links. You may be tempted to collaborate with other websites in your niche and swap links with them to pep up your strategy. But Google is not happy with it as it considers these links as unnatural, with no intention of delivering any value to the users. It is best to avoid such exchange links or keep them to minimal at least.
Links from irrelevant or low-quality sites
Another reason that you may suffer a link penalty is if you are building back link with irrelevant or low quality websites. Linking with irrelevant sites will not be preferred by Google because it flouts the guidelines of organic and natural link building. Links are to be earned rather than made unnaturally without paying attention to relevance. Similarly, the ones from low-quality sites can do more harm than good as you may not need to work hard enough to earn them.
Private blog networks (PBNs)
A PBN refers to a network of sites that you own and use to build links within the network itself. From the perspective of link building, this can be a risky approach because Google will definitely penalize you heavily once it detects that you are running a PBN. This is a manipulative tactic that you must absolutely avoid to keep your website in good books.
Recovering from link penalties
Now that you know about all the practices that can fetch a penalty for your website, you will probably be more careful not to follow them. Still, you may be penalized at any point in time, with or without an intentional error. Having a recovery plan in place is thus essential. Here are a few tactics that can help:
- Start by cleaning up your link profile, with a proper assessment for detection of bad backlinks and subsequent removal.
- Connect with webmasters to remove bad backlinks from their sites. In case they do not pay heed, disavowing these links is the only alternative.
- In case you receive a manual penalty, submitting a reconsideration request to Google is the best thing to do.
- Staying updated with Google’s algorithm is essential so that you can follow the best practices.
- Constant monitoring of your link profile also helps you to keep an eye on any bad backlinks so that you can redress them even before being penalized.
The idea behind building a good link profile is to always think natural and organic and prioritize links that serve true value to your users. This approach will be enough to uphold your website’s reputation to the extent that it will never have to face penalties from Google.