Once upon a time, a domain service scam called Domain Registry of America thought it was a good idea to target my company with their deceitful marketing campaign. Since I have an abundance of free time and a fair sense of humor, we’re using them in our tutorial for improving the web performance of your blog. Click here to read this series from the beginning.
Today we’ll talk about how links affect your search engine performance, and what you can do about it. For example, if you click on the image at the top of this page, it will lead you to the Domain Registry of America scam’s home page.
The Back Story
A few years ago, in a galaxy pretty close to us, Google figured out that links to a site were a form of social proof. This was back when everybody was hand-coding their webpages. If a page included a link to another page, that was pretty solid evidence that the person who built the linking page thought highly of whatever the destination page had to offer. For example, a person running a consumer report page might include a link to a domain service scam watchdog group because he used it frequently for research. End result — links to your page, especially links with related text, had heavy weight in Google’s algorithms.
Gaming the System
It was a pretty clever system, but people are good at finding ways to game any program. Some examples included:
- Dropping thousands of links to a site in the comments of blogs, and as posts in forums, using automated programs.
- Building complex webs of web pages that referred to one another, run either by the same company or by a network of cooperating companies.
- Buying space on a link farm, a site built and maintained solely to provide links to commercial websites.
Taking advantage of how a system works is bad hattery, the kind of behavior one might expect from those bad, bad hats over at the Domain Registry of America scam. Last year, Google dropped a math hammer on people who used these methods to get an unfair advantage over those who play by the rules. End result — a lot of what you might have heard about using links to grow traffic is out of date, and could actually penalize your search engine performance.
Okay, So Now What?
Short version: play by the rules. Don’t look for shortcuts like domain service scams so frequently do. Write good text about compelling topics, and share them on your social media platforms. Some specific things you can do include:
- Put together a team of four or five friends to post links to your best content in social media platforms and forums they frequent. Make sure those links are topical and relevant.
- Get active in social media, especially Google+ and post synopses with links to your material.
- Write guest posts on other peoples’ sites, and include a link to your own page within the text.
- Link to, and comment on, the sites of thought leaders in your field. If they notice you, courtesy will demand a link or comment to you.
As you can see, the move is toward what Google wanted to be in the first place. Great content and legitimate social signals are the best way to “game” the system. Tune in next week for a discussion of how to improve keyword density on your site without making your copy convoluted and unnatural.