Are Links Good or Bad?
Are links to and from your website good or bad? To most people this probably seems to be a no-brainer. Of course links are good, that’s what the web is all about, right? Google’s robots crawl the links, it’s how the Web Was Won.
But, Google says that links can be too much of a good thing. For years people have bought and sold links, created link farms, and used other bad tactics to beef up their SEO via links. And then one of Google’s updates hit, and fears spread that links were bad and to be avoided.
What is the truth here?
The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. Practical, useful links to and from other sites are important. But people tend to be afraid of any change Google makes, and take the extreme opposite stance.
- Directory and Citation Listings. Linking to your site from high quality directory listings makes sense because your website is supposed to be a hub for your online company or brand to begin with. It is common sense to send people from directories to your site so that they can have access to as much information as possible.
- Blog Posts. If you are writing for topical, appropriate blogs then it makes sense to link back. Google may penalize for back links that make no sense, but if you are a social media expert doing a guest post on a website blog, one expects a link to additional information. Google is said to have made bad judgment calls here with their penalties, but taking extreme measures does no good either.
- Social Media. Social media has been a nice way to spread information and even today this makes sense. Like directory listings that point to your web as the hub of your brand, social media is an active way to share info and let others pass it along.
- Link Farms. According to Google, a link farm is “a set of web pages created with the sole aim of linking to a target page, in an attempt to improve that page’s search engine ranking.” Paying a company for the sheer purpose of spamming the world with links is a sure way to offend the Google Robots.
- Black Hat SEO. From link manipulation, to automated Google queries, to keyword stuffing, Black Hat SEO is generally an attempt to manipulate search engines to rise in ranks, with no concern for human readers. These tendencies tend to be against search engine policies. This is why Google has made SEO more complicated. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Google continually changes how its search engine considers things, and trying to follow Google specifications can be maddening. Links, as with any SEO, are better approached when they make sense. Don’t fear using them in a realistic way and at points that make sense, but don’t try to abuse them either. As with many things, moderation is key.