Contrary to popular opinion, back links are not dead. Matt Cutts, the Google search engine algorithm spokesman, said on June 6, 2012 that social signals were not ready to replace back links. The way he said it makes many of us feel links will be far less influential in site ranking as social signal tracking improves. But in the meantime, here are 3 steps to penguin-friendly back links.
Do you know who’s linking to you? The quality of the links pointing to your site has always mattered; in a post-Penguin world, it matters more than ever. The reality is that the new, more sophisticated search engine algorithms are becoming increasingly picky about your backlinks. If you’ve accumulated low-quality, low-value links—you could be penalized.
If your site’s performance has been adversely affected by the Penguin update, it might be time to clean up your backlinks and remove those pesky, low-quality links that now act as a roadblock to your site’s success with the search engines. Here are some tips for getting started:
Identify the offenders. Ideally, your links will be a reflection of your popularity. The more quality links you have, the better your rank for your target keywords will be. However, the post-Penguin reality is that volume of links—even good ones—isn’t necessarily going to be rewarded by the search engines.
Backlink profiles can be manipulated and rankings inflated. Poor-quality sites can bloat your profile with nearly worthless links that could actually hurt your site’s standing with search engines. So, you need to identify links that might possibly be a problem. Start with a backlink tool, such as the one provided by Google, or any tool that checks for all backlinks to your site. Then use the following criteria to determine which links are less than desirable:
links from sites in a different language
links from sites that contain viruses or malware
low-value sites created just to link to other sites
sites using overly optimized anchor text that is not diversified
Target the worst offenders. Once you know which links could be a problem, sift through to determine which actually need to go. Not all low-quality links need to be removed. For instance—inactive, 404 redirects and no-follow links don’t do any harm and can be left alone. All other links would be considered active and should be removed.
Backlink tools that identify links for live or dead status can be helpful during this process.