Are you terrified of Google right now? If you are a business owner, and you have done any SEO for your site (or hired anyone to do SEO for you), then you probably should have a little fear in your heart right about now.
So what is there to be afraid of exactly? Well, for some time now, Google has been sending out so-called “unnatural links” notices to website owners through the Google Webmaster Tools interface. These messages quite frequently have been accompanied by a plunge in website rankings and in search traffic.
So what exactly are these “unnatural” links, and what can you do about them? According to Google’s latest pronouncements, unnatural links are pretty much any links that you build or have built to your site, including not only the spammiest of links, like forum profiles and spun articles but also such techniques still widely promoted as “white hat,” like article marketing and mass press release submissions.
The fact of the matter is, if you create a link specifically to boost your site’s authority and search rankings, Google sees that as an unnatural link. So no matter how well crafted your article submitted to the directories or how topical those blog comments are that you are using to build back links, these techniques are seen by Google as attempts to game their search results.
Think of links as votes (which is essentially how Google views them). Link building, then is essentially stuffing the ballot box. And now, in order to remove penalties on sites and get them ranked again, Google is making site owners clean up as many of these these “unnatural” links as possible, then use the new Google link disavowal tool to renounce any further links that might be making Google unhappy. Matt Cutts described the process in this video released this week.
Basically, cleaning up these unnatural links is a lot like cleaning up toxic sludge: it is time consuming and expensive.
So what is a business owner to do to avoid having to deal with all this? In the first place, for the love of God, stop paying “SEO” companies to build links to your site. If they try to claim that the “link packages” they offer are “white hat,” stop listening to them and look for another company. And if you need any further proof that even article marketing is now frowned upon, listen to the video above.
Next, institute a plan to both make your site link-worthy and to share your site to targeted audiences through social media. If you don’t have time to learn how to do this, find a marketing company that knows how.
Google has not only declared war on link building, but it now has the resources in place to carry out that war. Either you change the course of your SEO efforts, or they will come after your business’ site, and when they do, it won’t be pretty.