Google Treats Backlinks Like Recommendations For Your Site

Getting Good Links to Your Website

Google's philosophy on all linking could be summarized as: "Just make great content on your website and let people link to it naturally." Ha! That process is 'way too slow for most marketers. Google uses the number and quality of the websites linking to your website to raise or lower your website in their search results. Marketers want top placement for their website right now, today! That just doesn't happen with the "build it and links will come naturally" mantra chanted by Google.

It begs the question of "Well, just what IS great content?" Current info about your industry? White papers? Survey results? Lists of helpful tips and tricks? How-to videos? A wildly entertaining video ad? Most website owners are just trying to sell their product or service, not enlighten the world about their industry; most also aren't capable of entertaining the universe in order to get links to their site so they can sell those products/services.

A link to your website from somewhere else on the web is called a "backlink." Links from good websites are very valuable. Unfortunately, acquiring backlinks to your website usually takes either a lot of work, or a lot of money to hire someone to do the grunt work for you.

The actual process of getting backlinks is quite simple: find relevant websites that should link to your website to inform their visitors of your existence, and ask them to set up a link to your website. It's that simple... but it's never that easy. With all the noise and spam arriving in the inboxes of webmasters and website owners, requests for links are quite often simply treated as spam folder or relegated to the trash bin; your communication gets ignored. So phone calls and actual paper letters asking for links sometimes work.

The very best way we know of to get backlinks is to roll up your sleeves, search the web for quality websites that relate to the topic of your website (those that are not your direct competitors), and use live communication to request links from those related, high-quality websites. Make a spreadsheet, track the emails you send out to see if anyone answered, follow up with letters, etc. Tedious, boring grunt work. But the links will come and it will usually be worth it.

If you've owned a website for a while, you've probably gotten a lot of link requests from people marketing other websites. Now you know why.

Linking Schemes

When Google announced years ago that they were looking at the quantity of links to a website as part of determining which websites to show at the top of the search results, webmasters and marketers went wild getting links. Linking services sprang up like mushrooms and there were many schemes for buying links, trading links, or linking around in circles.

Someone wrote a popular program called Zeus Internet Marketing Robot that would automatically crawl the web and generate an email for you, asking for a link. This resulted in a flood of spam emails coming at webmasters from people running the Zeus program, asking for links from utterly unrelated websites. I still receive, on a regular basis even in 2024, this kind of spam from some automated program that asks me for a link from my websites to websites that have no relation whatever to my website. It would be a complete waste of time to set up links from my site to these unrelated sites. It would do the recipient of the link no good either, since the sites are unrelated. Google pays attention to that kind of thing, and penalizes websites that reciprocate links ("I'll link to you if you link to me!") or participate in other kinds of "linking schemes." A link to or from an unrelated site doesn't really count for much.

I can't believe this Zeus program is still for sale, but I just confirmed is still available! Wow. Really Not Recommended!

These schemes for soliciting links all worked quite well to increase rankings at Google... very briefly. Until Google figured out how to kill them dead.

Whatever you do, don't ever pay for links!

Good Linking Advice

There is a ton of good, current advice from Brian Dean over at Backlinko on different methods for acquiring great links to your site. Not all of them will apply to you, but you will probably find something there that will help you get links.

Link Bait

Link bait is the practice of making that "great content" (as first mentioned above) worth linking to. It's quite difficult to do that routinely. Standard advertising copy about your products won't suffice as "link bait", unless your product is something very controversial or outrageous.

Blogs are a better medium for link bait than regular websites, because you can easily put up new content on your blog.

Top 10 lists, funny articles, illogical reasons why, satire, controversial pictures, or outrageous viewpoints, even reviews of current movies or TV shows -- these are all link bait. One can have a lot of fun with this, but realize that the vast majority of time spent trying to make link bait will be wasted time.

Twitter is a good way to let people know that you've put up something worth linking to. There are WordPress plugins that will update your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever, whenever you post to your blog. Those links typically don't count for much at Google for various technical reasons, but if people re-tweet your tweet, or like your post, etc., then you can still get a lot of traffic just from that. I've seen this technique crash a server that wasn't prepared to handle the traffic it generated.

Article Marketing

Article Marketing used to work... not so much any more. We don't recommend this technique any longer.

How to Get Rid of Bad Links?

If links already exist pointing to your website from spammy, low-quality websites, one should work to get rid of them by writing to the website owners and asking for the link to be removed. If you can't get the bad links taken down, then disavow those links by submitting a "disavow list" to Google. If you want someone to create and submit your disavow list for you, we can help with that. We submit disavow lists to Google routinely for our clients.

Article updated 2024

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