Monday, June 23, 2014

Real Web Links and Artificial Web Links

Link Building - Types of Links

Links can be thought of as fitting into two groups. We can call them REAL LINKS and ARTIFICIAL LINKS. What do we mean by real links? A real link is a type of link that the major search engines really want to see. It's a link pointing to a website from another site and it exists because the owner of that other website really wants to create a link. The owner has found a reference page to be in some way useful, amusing, interesting or engaging in some manner.

real web link building
Link Building | Two Types of Links
These are the sort of links that search engines are most interested in because they are genuine votes for your site. On the other hand is the artificial link. Not artificial in the sense that the link is somehow not real in the technical or structural sense. They are real HTML links. But artificial in a sense that the purpose for the link is fake. The link isn't there because the person owning the site linking to yours particularly cares for your site. The link is there because you want it there and have somehow managed to convince the site owner to place a link on his site pointing to yours. The site linking to your site has some kind of incentive to place the link there.

Let's say you created glossary of terms related to your business something genuinely useful to other people in your industry. A few bloggers discover the glossary and think it's worth talking about so they mention it in their blogs and the link to it. Thats a real links. This kind of link building encourages people to link to your site and is often known by the term "link bait". On the other hand let's say you buy links.

When you buy links, you pay other site owners to link to your site. Those are the artificial kind of links. The site owners don't really care about your site. They don't care what the link is pointing to. They're simply placing the link in exchange for money. Of course it's often difficult for the search engines to determine the difference between a real link and an artificial link.

How can Google tell the difference between a real link to really useful link bait and an artificial link to your not so useful site that was placed in return for cash? Often it can't. Which represents a huge problem for the search engine companies because on the one hand they try to discourage artificial links in particular purchased links. Yet at the same time they reward the strategy. 

In fact most link building campaigns are really artificial link campaigns. It's actually often the case that an artificial link is more valuable than a real link because of the problems the search engines have in distinguishing between the two. A real link from a low page rank blog will likely be less valuable than a paid link from a high page rank blog. In general a real link strategy is more valuable than an artificial link strategy for a variety of reasons.

First, the search engines are continually getting better figuring out the difference. When Google discovers a site containing paid links it often devalues those links perhaps totally ignoring the links and could even remove the page from the index. Another example is reciprocal linking. While many proponents of reciprocal linking would put such links firmly in the real link category claiming they provide value to site visitors. In fact most reciprocal linking is clearly done for SEO reasons and the search engines know it. Which is why reciprocal links generally have little value these days?

Links embedded into an article on really popular blog are likely to be more valuable than links placed in to websites that were created for the purpose of holding paid links or than links in web directories. There's a fine line between real and artificial links.

With links getting more valuable as you move along the continuum from paid links to link bait links. In a general sense it's worth being aware of these two basic link strategies. Real and artificial links and understanding that search engines are more interested in real than artificial and continually getting better at assessing the difference.

Steve Steinberger

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