Understanding Google’s Stance On Unnatural Links
The big over riding emphasis from Google when it comes to the interpretation & penalization of unnatural or manipulative inbound links is a) the manipulation of PageRank or PageRank sculpting (what they term “a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines“) or b) manipulative outbound links from your site that are not deemed to be editorially or relevance based or c) the purchase or sale of links that pass PageRank for money or d) link exchange for the sake of it – that is, to manipulate search rankings & not enhance user experience or e) Article Marketing & Guest Posting that uses excessively rich anchor text or f) linking to your website via automated software (like all of the bots who spit out WordPress blog comment spam 24/7).
Involvement in link schemes can be ascertained from your historical inbound link graph. If Google pick up something manipulative smelling about inbound links to your website and they note you have a history of getting links from from article farms, robot style directories, and press release sites, then your new possible indiscretion will be viewed in a more negative light.
You not pursue inbound links to your website based solely on Google PageRank. A good quality link is one that you’d anticipate would solicit a substantial number of referral traffic too. Under that interpretation, the PageRank of the linking page is entirely coincidental.
Google are of course not saying you can’t purchase advertising or advertorial content that has links to your website included in it – merely that such links should be nofollowed and/or disavowed from your site. You should view such advertorial purchases’ yield as deriving from referral traffic & perhaps wider brand recognition & not in any way shape or form direct Google organic algorithmic benefit. This is quite a simple imposition – if there is any doubt nofollow/disavow.
If Google didn’t exist & you were paying someone to link to your website the only reason for doing so would be referral traffic. If you’re paying for a link that isn’t sending substantial amounts of referral traffic then you are more than likely violating Google’s Guidelines.
Never, ever, reciprocal link with unrelated businesses – this reaches of an attempt to manipulate your search rankings. Wide spread article marketing or guest posting campaigns with excessively & consistently keyword-rich anchor text links risk being flagged as unnatural. Article databases & article marketing in general has waned as a tool for white hat SEO in the last 36 months – my advice is simple: article marketing is only useful if it brings click through traffic – if it does then be sure to nofollow & even ask to have duplicate versions of the article noindexed if possible.
But generally I suggest you simply avoid all general submission platforms for articles. This is a gap that Google has shut down & shut down hard.
Guest posting is a little trickier. Because of course there are many examples of guest posting working supremely well. If your goal is referral traffic & brand recognition inflation & you’ve found a reputable blog that wants you to contribute (& they are within your industry) then by all means go for it. I’d veer toward the usage of non-keyword dense anchor text in any inbound links to your site from your guest post & the use of nofollow (even voluntarily) if you are guest blogging on the same blog regularly. Avoid guest blogging on websites where they market guest blogging opportunities. Consider the quality of other guest posters on any blog you are considering doing a guest post on. Would you want to be associated with them? If not, then move on.
Automated linking runs from spambots to link requests via email spam. I have never sent an email to someone regarding a link without having at least their name. Impersonal link request emails will have a pathetic success rate & the links you achieve over a million iterations will be of shockingly low quality one imagines. Always know who you are talking contacting regarding the potential link.
Google are supremely transparent with the important components of their guidelines.