|How to safely build links without being penalized|
I recently launched a new website that provides information about an upcoming event (widgetcollectorsevent.com). I've had the domain since 2004 but only within the past month put content on it (it was parked before). Currently this website has 12 pages of content and I plan to continue to grow it. When searching for "widget collectors event", it showed up on page 3 on Google with only 1 backlink (from BOTW). Two days ago I made two changes:
1) I added Adsense for Content to all pages (1 ad block per page - I'm not trying to make this an MFA sense, just trying to monetize the traffic).
2) I started emailing schools, libraries, and people who have homepages dedicated to widgets and asked them if they could add a link to the site.
Many people replied to the email and said the site was great and added links to the site. In total, I would say I received no more than 20 links (at the absolute max - really I think the number is closer to 10 but I can't tell for sure). Since the site is about a widget collectors event, all of the links that I received have the anchor text "Widget Collectors Event".
This morning I woke up and found that the main page is now no longer found in Google (on page 1-99) for "Widget Collectors Event". However, when I added omitted results, the site re-appears on page 3 like it did before. Also, when searching for "Widget Collectors Event Chicago" (for example), the /chicago/ page does appear in the index on page 2 (which is the same as a few days ago). So, it looks like just / is missing from the main Google index.
This is a clean website with all original content and no ecommerce/affiliate links/sales (other than adsense for content). It's just designed to provide information about this event in various cities.
My guess is that Google saw a bunch (10-20) links come in to the site with the same or almost identical anchor text and penalized the main page of the site. If this is true, how am I supposed to build links to the site? The external links all came from "clean" websites such as public libraries, schools, and on-topic personal homepages that were dedicated to "widget collectors".
Any suggestions on what might have hit the site and how best to build links for a new domain?
In my opinion the new links probably aren't the problem. I think they are probably too recent and too few to have had much effect. I suggest that you wait a few days for things to stablize. Sometimes when you add significant new content to a website, some pages will temporarily bounce around in the rankings or even disappear from the SERPs for a short time. I've seen this happen.
The best advice I can give is don't get in too much of a hurry. Getting a few links by submitting to directories on including a link in your signature on forums that cover your niche in some way is probably a good thing, but getting carried away is generally where people go wrong. It takes time for your site to grow with quality, but it will if you spend time making it a worthwhile resource. It's pretty easy to spot a site that really gets a lot of TLC, and your visitors will notice that too.
|Getting a few links by submitting to directories on including a link in your signature on forums that cover your niche in some way is probably a good thing |
Could I just ask if it is sometimes a BAD thing to post links to your site in forums, especially if the forums are not directly related to your products / services?
I realized that there is a I.T. related forum that I have about 800 posts on with links to my sites (which are about clothing and fashion, not info technology).
I have heard that by including links to your site from forum signatures can "dilute" the value of all links to your site. It's as if google cares more about the PERCENTAGE of links that are from relevant sites, than the sheer number of links to a site.
However, that would contradict with statements from google's Matt Cutts and John Mu (can't remember his full last name) that inbound links won't hurt you, even if they are from poor quality sites (this was to avoid competitors linking to your site from krappy sites).
thanks in advance for any suggestions / clarifications.
|about clothing and fashion, not info technology |
Those links shouldn't hurt you in terms of any kind of penalty, but they wouldn't be much help for spiders trying to determine what your pages are about. Not harmful, but not much support either.
|It's as if google cares more about the PERCENTAGE of links that are from relevant sites, than the sheer number of links to a site. |
I agree with that. It would be hard to prove, but it makes intuitive sense and that thought has been one of my guiding stars for several years.
Imagine a spider trying to identify "signals of relevance" amidst a lot of "thematic noise" in your backlink profile, and ponder how your signal-to-noise ratio would affect their perceptions. The tipping point is unknown, but spiders can sift through a lot of noise as long as there is a clear enough signal in there somewhere. SEO-wise, our mission is to strengthen that signal.
I think the OP is on the right track, despite some ups and downs, and if the OP stays focused on relevance and quality the new site will stablize and make good progress.
|I think the OP is on the right track... |
I'm sorry, but could I ask you to clarify what "OP" means?
You have to keep things simple for me. You see, I am a product of the California Public Education System... :)
OP = Opening Post, Original Poster
Hey Planet13, I just realized that you joined the forum only a few days ago. Welcome aboard!
|Hey Planet13, I just realized that you joined the forum only a few days ago. Welcome aboard! |
Thank You for welcoming me. It seems like the people on this forum are more civilized than on other forums, such as the google webmaster tools forum, et al.,
On the other hand, it does seem, however, that most of the people on this site are either professional SEO people, or if they do own their own sites, that they have 50 or more sites and mainly generate revenue from adsense.
I might be wrong, but it doesn't seem like there are a lot of mom-and-pop web site owners selling stuff on this forum...
Having been around here for a good while, I can tell you for certain that we have the full spectrum - entrepreneurs who run a one man show, mom-and-pops with a small to medium business, independent SEOs and in-house SEOs, non-technical business owners who want to understand SEO so they can better guide their company, and even some huge corporates.
So we have quite a mix at all levels of experience. Makes for quite a forum. Observations come from all kinds of experiences of the web. The analyses people make may or may not be correct, but the honest observations and variety of experience are what makes for a great recipe, IMO.
I'd remove advertising in the first phase of getting links. The revenue will be very low unless you get decent traffic anyway but ads may drive potential link donors away.
I might be wrong, but it doesn't seem like there are a lot of mom-and-pop web site owners selling stuff on this forum...
Bunches of us, including myself and several others who have done nothing but ecommerce for over a decade.
"mom-and-pop web site owners selling stuff"
I am one. ; ) Don't own 50 sites, and not a professional SEO.
since we are off-topic anyway....
i have been a "mom and pop", but it grew professional
Back to backlinks - I'd say that off-topic backlinks are not a problem. Google can and does ignore such links. And it's not really a percentage thing, either. What any site needs to thrive is links that come from independent sources - especially links in the content area. In other words, evidence that other webmasters value your content and recommend it to their visitors.
For this reason, a lot of mechanical link building efforts don't give a lot of benefit. Google isn't looking to give high value to links that a webmaster can place on their own.
|Google isn't looking to give high value to links that a webmaster can place on their own. |
So "free directories" are pretty much useless then, right?
|Bunches of us, including myself and several others who have done nothing but ecommerce for over a decade. |
Glad to hear that I am in the right place then!
well i can see this thread going in wrong direction...but this may not be bad
errorsamac was asking for advices about his site,so we should provide what we have here.
my site underwent same problem - but may not be caused by link building because that happened before i started to build links.
days after i finished on-page seo, one of my keywords ranked in page 1. not 2 days after, it disappeared, just like errorsamac's experience. and now (10 days after disappearance), it came back to top 10.
so i would suggest, don't worry and don't be hurry, especially when you are building links.
it seems like sandbox still lives...
just a couple of thoughts on the original subject of link building...
I noticed on my ten-year-old site that of the natural (unsolicited) links to my site, about 60% of them are to the homepage, and the majority of them are to a few select "category" pages (you might think of them as landing pages, but we have an e-commerce site and these just happen to be the most popular categories).
And for most of my backlinks, say around 50%, they have just the URl or the two words that make up the URL as the anchor text.
So if the site were bluewidgets dot com then most of the anchor text was blue widgets or the url bluewidgets dot com
don't know if this helps or not, but something to think about.
Yep, that's a natural linking pattern, Planet13 - not a whole lot of awesomely matched keywords in teh anchor text. You naturally get just a little bit of that. Too much an Google just might not count those links at all, even if you still see them in WMT.
|So "free directories" are pretty much useless then, right? |
Nope quite the opposite! I know of a company who run their own network of websites - all very similar in terms of content but lots and lost of different domain names.
They sell this as a service and promise to get you on to page 1 very quickly. And you know what, it works!
They are an AdWords qualified company too and place the Google logo on their home page.
Am actually tempted to create a new site and take them up on the offer while it still works (been about 7 years now!).
Is that really the case, if Google sees 50 good links, then you get a bunch of automated off topic links - will Google discount everything including the 50 on topic.
Reason I asked is because I saw this in my last debacle, even on topic link went from my WMT account...
Well, Google "can" discount any link they want - it's sort of an internal "nofollow" technology that they've had in place from BEFORE the nofollow attribute was even introduced. But we can't be sure when they use it and when they don't. The backlinks listed in WMT are not a clue - they even show backlinks that have a coded nofollow attribute on the source page.
Sometimes it seems to me that Google doesn't always like change, especially change that would normally be expected to increase your rankings. I've seen many cases where making significant changes to a page after it's been the same for a long time (including changes to the backlink profile) will cause the page to drop out of certain SERPs for a while. Generally if you're doing things right, which it sounds like you are, the page will return after a short hiatus, often with significantly improved rankings.
My opinion is that you should not do anything different. Continue to build the kind of quality, editorial links you're building, and eventually you will do quite well.
I think this discussion merits being brought back (again) to the OP's specific situation. From what I could gather his/her particular interest is in building up enough links/traffic/ranks etc. in anticipation of an upcoming event i.e. fixed deadline. Most of the wisdom shared in this thread has to do with ongoing day-to-day operation of sites with no particular deadline.
I would think that OP may actually see some benefit in building the backlink much quicker than the (normally cautious) WebmasterWorld common wisdom allows to have the ranks peak at the time of the event. The following repercussions (if occur after the event) may not even matter as much.
Think about a World Cup or an Olympics - centered site. You have approx. month or two of activity and then another four years(!) to fix whatever problems your aggressive tactics might have created.
I personally don't have a site like that and for me this discussion is purely theoretical in this sense but it looks like an interesting case study, so I'll be watching it closely.
A good point, 1script. For any approaching event that is fixed in time, I would look to social media and building some buzz about the event itself. I wouldn't even worry about links from a ranking boost angle so much, although that will probably happen naturally, anyway.
For events of this nature, I think it takes more than creating a website and "building links" to improve rankings. I think it takes building actual TRAFFIC, through every type of messaging and marketing you can come up with.
Here is how I build links for my sites.
Google does not even come into the equation when Iím looking for links. My site is for my visitors and not Google. If Google doesnít like the links, thatís their problem because my internal tracking shows that my visitors like the links. I donít use any Google tools so I donít care what shows or what doesn't in the Google Webmaster console because I donít have one. Sorry, if Google wants my valuable tracking data, they can pay me for it and the argument that they are by sending visitors no longer is true. It used to be but now all Google wants is my content so they can lure the visitor in and then get them to click an adword or some other Google sponsored feature so they can make money just like any other business.
So, if the links Iím looking at are good for my visitors, I go for them with or without anchor text. Whatever makes sense for the link so the visitor understands it works for me? I donít want a visitor clicking a link coming to my site about purple widgets after clicking a link describing a red widget cleaner.
Again, if that donít work for Google, I donít care. Sure Google has a large market but that wonít last forever and I make sites to please my visitors not some algorithm that a bunch of over educated braniacs came up with.
Based on my sites tracking, even though they hold very good positions in Google, Bing & Yahoo traffic is actually out performing Google on many of my sites and the funny thing is it used to be the other way around.
So, if Google donít like my links, thatís to bad.
I agree with your philosophy - build links because they will generate traffic.
|I donít care what shows or what doesn't in the Google Webmaster console because I donít have one. Sorry, if Google wants my valuable tracking data, they can pay me for it |
The data you get in WebmasterTools is data that Google already has about your site. It's not like Google Analytics, where the data takes time to build.
I began with a similar philosophy to yours right when WMT launched. But then, because of this forum, I decided to sign up just one domain to see what people were talking about. And what I find is that WMT is giving you a look at Google's experience of your site - what they already know and what crawling or indexing problems they may be having. Most of it is instantly available when you verify ownership.
Some of this is data that you cannot get any other way - such as how many organic impressions your URLs are getting, and the many different ranking positions where they are appearing. The value of "Fetch as googlebot" alone is worth verifying ownership. And the information they share with you can help the site do better on all search engines, not just Google. It helps you grow your traffic.
Analytics - You are giving Google your data
WMT - Google is giving you THEIR data