Link development can be a risky endeavor for many websites, as there have been a slew of updates from Google and other search engines to prevent “gaming of the system” through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In years past, webmasters would get links anywhere and everywhere, from comment sections, forum profiles and low quality blogs to directories, social bookmarking sites and a slew of other places to find links, also known as link neighborhoods. Regardless of your sector, niche, or vertical, SEO can be a powerful tool to help you garner more traffic to your website and more conversions.
In the post-Penguin era of SEO, webmasters need to be aware of the link neighborhoods in which their links reside, and avoid obtaining links in the “bad” parts of the Internet. The questions remains, how do you differentiate between good and bad link neighborhoods? How will you find your white picket fence links?
Finding Good Link NeighborhoodsWhen people shop for a house, one of the first things that they ask is typically about the neighborhood in which the house resides, whether it is in a good school district, low crime-rate, and lots of other aspects. Similar aspects can be attributed to the search for good link neighborhoods. When checking a website’s back-links via Google or link indexes, such as AHREFS, Majestic or Open Site Explorer, one would hope to find all naturally-earned, high-quality links. The link neighborhoods in which you want your back-links to reside would preferably be something like a business directory or niche-specific blog. One question that is always asked is “How do I find good links?” Well, you do not find GOOD links, good links find you! In all seriousness, you can find good linking opportunities using the same link indexes that you use to check your back-links by checking your competitors’ back-links. By conducting an analysis on all competitors’ back-links, you can find the good link neighborhoods in which you can find opportunities to obtain high quality links to your website. We also have our own Competitive Analysis Tool that you should check out!
Avoiding Bad Link NeighborhoodsUnfortunately for many webmasters, they were persuaded to utilize budget SEO work for budget results, and that can result in a pretty nasty clean-up effort. Identifying bad links can be fairly easy, as most of the schemes SEOs used before Penguin were similar, so the patterns are easy to recognize. If you need help analyzing back-links, check out my link analysis guide! One way to identify bad link neighborhoods would be to take a critical eye to the website that is linking (or could potentially link) to you. Ask yourself several questions:
- Does this website pertain to my niche?
- Is this website regularly updated?
- Does this website NOT contain low quality advertisements such as I SELL LINKS?
- What would my parents think of this website? (You think I am kidding?)
- Would I walk alone at night in this link neighborhood? (Okay, this one is a joke.)
- “SEO-Friendly” Directories.
- Article Marketing / Press Release Syndication Sites.
- Social Bookmarking Sites.
- Websites that advertise link exchange, buying / selling links, etc.
- Anything that looks like a place that houses Internet garbage.
- Google has a fairly comprehensive list here: Link Schemes