Building a Quality Links Program
Despite Google repeatedly declaring that they do not like paid links, they have actually endorsed their usage in certain circumstances. Even though this was publicly declared, a lot of people still seem unaware of this.For a long time now Google have been very clear on their stance over paid links that manipulate the search engines. They are seriously frowned upon. As most of us know, the quantity and quality of links pointing to our sites has a major influence over our rankings. They are not the only factor in determining your rankings, but most SEOs agree that they are very influential, probably the most influential thing.
Googles primary job is to produce relevant and quality sites for searchers. Their very success depends upon them producing the best results. They see people buying links as a threat to this. Someone with a poor spammy site, but some cash behind them, could simply buy loads of links and gain a top spot. It may be good for that particular site, but it isnt good for the searcher and therefore it isnt good for Google. Google do not want to be known for returning poor results. They know that their empire rests on this. People will simply switch to one of the other many search engines should the results be bad enough.
What not everyone is aware of is that Google is not rigid in this stance against paid links. There are some instances where paid links ARE acceptable to the search engine giant.
Of course paid no follow links are perfectly acceptable to Google as, in theory at least, they do not pass any SEO benefits. (Some people do argue that they pass a small amount of SEO benefit, but thats for another day). They only pass the benefit of the traffic gained directly through the link. For those not aware of no follow links, these are links which Google will ignore. They are called no follow because the Google bots will not follow this links.
However it is also sometimes acceptable for paid links that are do follow. Paid links that also offer an SEO benefit. Matt Cutts, one of Googles top employees states quite clearly that Google is only worried about paid links that flow PageRank AND attempt to game Googles rankings.
Now if we analyse this statement we can see that there are three parts to it. These are paid links, flow PageRank, AND attempt to game Googles rankings. So not only must a link be paid and be dofollow (flow PageRank), but there is also a third criteria that must be satisfied before Google will flag a link as being manipulative. The third criteria being attempt to game Googles rankings.
This implies that not all paid links that pass over PageRank are necessarily gaming Googles rankings. When defining attempting to game Googles rankings, Matt Cutts discussed Googles algorithms being able to automatically pick out lists of paid links that were not relevant to each other or the site. Eg. A list of links containing poker links, dating links, credit, junk yards etc. He also discusses the links containing low quality links. Although he did not define what was a low quality link, we probably intuitively know one when we see it. Links to spammy sites, or sites on the edge of legality. Also sites that use questionable link building and marketing practices.
So Google dont like lists of paid links, that flow PageRank, that are irrelevant to each other, and/or are of low quality. Perhaps then Google doesnt mind lists of paid links that flows PageRank, but are relevant to each other, and are high quality links?
It would seem so. Matt Cutts gives some specific advice as to what to look for in a paid directory before submitting to it. Google see it as important that a directory will reject links, rather than just accepting any link no matter what. He also specifically mentions the quality of the sites included in the list. He basically says that even if a directory does not accept every submission, if it contains mostly spammy sites, then it doesnt speak well to the quality of the directory. Therefore a directory must successfully filter out poor sites, so that the sites included there are perceived by Google as having a legitimate stamp of quality from the directory. If any old site is included, then it doesnt say much about the stamp of quality does it?
He then mentions about the fee charged by the directory. It would seem that it would be fine providing it is primarily for the time/effort for someone to do a genuine evaluation of a URL or site. Note the word primarily. This would imply that part of the fee can be for something else. Presumably this is for the privilege of being included in a quality directory. This is perhaps confirmed by Google not penalizing many very large directories that they are obviously very aware of. The Yahoo directory, for example, charge US$299 for inclusion. Surely it takes no longer than 5 or 10 minutes at most to evaluate a site? It would seem that the vast majority of this fee is not for evaluation, but for something else the privilege of being included in a quality directory.
So in summary it would appear that Google are fine with paid links that flow PageRank, providing they
So you can buy links! Google still consider that buying links from quality directories that conform to this criteria is an endorsement to the site that receives this paid link. All you need to do is evaluate whether the directory is quality before parting with your hard earned cash. There are three important things to consider
1. Make sure that the links in the directory are well placed in separate categories, and not just all jumbled together. A niche directory will be particularly good for this, since all the links will be related in some way.
2. Randomly check several of the links on any directory you wish to buy links from. Check that the sites are quality, have good content, are trusted sites with strong brand names. You may need to go with your gut a little on this, and ask yourself are these quality sites on this directory.
3. Dont submit to sites that will immediately accept your link automatically. This tells Google that there is no actual review for quality, and Google will strive to make these links worthless. It would not be surprising if Google could detect software that automatically adds links when they have been received. Make sure that the links are manually added, and that they are reviewed for quality.
If you follow these three things, then Google is very likely to allow the SEO benefits of these paid links to flow to your site uninterrupted. Rather like diet food products that can help only as part of a calorie controlled diet, the same is probably true here. Buy links yes, but only do so as part of your overall link building strategy. Knowing Google, they may well frown upon this being your sole link building method. Even if this is not the case, it certainly cant harm to use a variety of methods to build your links, such as article submissions, and link requests. But as part of your calorie controlled diet, go and feed yourself with some quality paid link directories, preferably niche, but dont gorge yourself on them!
Jon Rhodes - If you have a quality health related website, then submit it to our well respected health links directory.
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