Why back-linking as an SEO strategy sucks

Okay, so I’m not an SEO genius…. It’s all a little too left-brain for me. Gimme something creative to do like create a content strategy, write a post about something interesting, or design a magazine and I’m your gal but SEO, pfft!

That said, SEO is a necessary part of a good content marketing strategy. So, if you’re a right-brained creative writer like me, how do you navigate Google’s search engine algorithms so your website ranks well?

I’ve written on this topic before, but the landscape has changed a lot in the past year, so I thought it was worth reviewing.

One of the biggest changes that could potentially effect your blog is Google’s policy on back-linking for cash. You can read Google’s policy on link schemes here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en&rd=1.

Many blogs have made a mint from placing links in blog posts in exchange for money. However, if you don’t make these links “nofollow,” Google can penalize you.

Firstly, let’s look at what “dofollow” or “nofollow” means.

SEO tip: dofollow vs nofollow

“dofollow” means—The link is relevant to your site, adds value and is worth indexing in relation to your site. You would typically make a link “do follow” if it is a link back to a relevant blog post you’re commenting on or a site you’re referring to in the context of a blog post or answer to a question in your comments section.

“nofollow” means – The link is not relevant to your site, doesn’t add value and is not worth indexing in relation to your site. Basically, you’d make ads “nofollow” links on your site because, even though they may be relevant (and you’d hope you’re only featuring relevant ads for your audience), they are paid for. And, as Fruition points out in this article here: http://fruition.net/seo/high-profile-google-take-down-google-penalizes-rap-genius/, making paid links “dofollow” is a big “no, no”.

A couple of simple rules to follow

1. Never accept money or services in exchange for placing a “dofollow” backlink to another website on your site. If someone asks you to make an ad link “dofollow”, run! Run far away!

2. Never try to manipulate a backlink to YOUR site on another website. That is, don’t ask someone to back link to your site or give them the links to place in their blog posts.

But what about ads?

Ads are okay, but you must make them “nofollow” links. However, I’d discourage the practice of placing covert ad links in a blog post because it is a manipulative tactic and probably won’t sit well with your readers anyway.

What about sponsored blog posts?

With sponsored blog posts, you must declare them as ads and make the links “nofollow”.

But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of ads?

Well, no, because if an ad is relevant for your audience, a certain percentage of people will always click through and check it out. To be honest though, placing ads on websites as a main strategy is probably not the best strategy. If you are focused on producing quality content, on reaching your niche by providing value and contributing relevant content within your influencer circle, then you don’t need to rely on well-positioned ads. Google rewards content that is rich and has authority, but not manipulation–Another terrific reason to dive into authentic content marketing in 2014.

How to manually place a “nofollow” rel tag in your link.

I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel and I like to honour the quality content others produce, so here’s a link to an awesome, simple article about how to do this and why: http://www.feedthebot.com/paidlinks.html.

Over to you. Are you still confused over backlinking? Do you have paid backlinks on your website? Leave a comment below.

  • http://reginaldchan.net/ Reginald Chan Xin Yon

    Hi Cas,

    Thanks for sharing this. Personally, I think over focus in building backlink is a bad SEO strategy. You need to start building quality stuffs and get them shared all over. That’s how it is suppose to be and probably, the new SEO in 2014.

    Great write and shared!
    ~Reginald

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      Thanks Reginald! I couldn’t agree more!

  • John Cosstick

    Hi Cas. Thank you for this post. It is an important issue that I would say that even now is not generally understood by many small business people using the internet. It is a another reason why having a social media manager or contractor is important. Best wishes for 2014. I will share this as Reginald Chan Xin Yon suggests as the best SEO strategy.

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      Thanks John! It’s hard for a lot of new bloggers to get their heads around. I know it took me awhile. Happy New Year!

  • Michael Bian

    This is extremely important… thanks for sharing this…

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      You’re welcome Michael!

  • http://thinkbowtique.com/ Melissa

    So would that be the same with paid directories? I ask because a lot of SEO I read about suggest listing on directories for the link. But if they are paid directories won’t the link have to be no follow and therefore no SEO link. Would still be good for advertising and spreading your brand name.

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      That’s correct. Links in paid directories should be no-follow by default. The value to you with directories is in linking somewhere relevant to your target audience. I think the whole concept of directories needs to change. We are working on a new model right now over at The Likeability Co.

  • Spook SEO

    Cas, I’ve got a lot of useful information from your post. In creating ads, I need to make it no follow links. I’m also glad that you also included in your post the steps on how to place a nofollow rel tag in my link manually.