It’s common to hear people complaining about the sudden decrease in the ranking of their website. If you’re someone who understands the importance of ranking on the first Google search engine results page (SERP), getting knocked out of that coveted first page position is just like a knockout punch in boxing as it can just as dramatically impact the traffic and revenue of your website.
Although there are various causes of such sudden rank loss, the most common reason is the use of low-quality or bad backlinks. These low-quality links are mostly the result of greed when website owners try to buy backlinks. Considering the time and effort that people put into building website traffic, the sudden negative impact due to bad quality links is known to disrupt website owners, both mentally and financially.
Let’s take a look at what are these bad backlinks, the negative impact of these backlinks, and how you can save yourself from Google penalizing your website.
What are Backlinks?
Backlinks are links from one website to another website. Google and other search engines consider backlinks as a vote of authenticity. In simple words, if another website links to you, it means that the website is giving you a vote of trust.
If there are hundreds of websites linking to your page, it will increase the worth of the page in the eyes of search engines. The more quality backlinks you can get from other websites, the better it is for the reputation and ranking of your website.
Since the advent of the search engines and the rise of Google, backlinks have remained instrumental in ranking the website. Despite regular changes in the search engine algorithm, experts still regard the number of quality backlinks as the most important of all the ranking factors.
So, how do these backlinks turn into something that has great importance? Here is a brief history of backlinks:
The History of Backlinks
In the earlier days of the search engines when Yahoo, AOL, AskJeeves, Excite, and Lycos dominated the search landscape, developers of search engines were actively seeking a way to rank websites based on the quality of information presented on that particular website. As a result, the earlier search engines relied heavily on the number of relevant keywords.
Whenever someone tried to search for something, the top-ranking web pages on the search engine would be the pages that had the most relevant keywords to that particular search query. For instance, a search for “Parkinson Disease” would normally rank a web page based on the number of keywords for Parkinson’s Disease and similar terms on that particular page.
However, this method led to keyword stuffing, which meant that a lot of people would stuff their webpage with hundreds of keywords just to gain top ranking on the search engine for a particular search term. This led to a lot of low-quality websites popping out in front of the user.
When Google came into the spotlight in 1998, it planned to change how the information is presented to the user. With the passage of time, Google started putting more emphasis on backlinks instead of the keywords. Since it was not easy to ask others to link to a particular page, the number of backlinks was preferred over keywords and other factors.
It was logical to do so because webpages such as CNN, Forbes, Apple, Chrysler, Mayo Clinic, United Nations, and other prominent websites had one thing in common – they had thousands of backlinks. For Google, it was a good start because people were shown information from authority websites that had the most authentic information.
Using the improved model, when someone searched for Parkinson’s Disease, they were shown information from authority websites such as Mayo Clinic, World Health Organization, Harvard Medical School, etc. When Google gave importance to backlinks, the previous model used by other search engines took a backstage because it was prone to keyword stuffing where an average or ineffective website could gain the top ranking by stuffing keywords.
DID YOU KNOW…
The earliest PageRank algorithm of Google was built around the idea of backlinks.
As time progressed, people also started to find loopholes and shortcuts to gain the top ranking. The result was shadowy and dodgy practices such as buying backlinks from companies that would sell backlinks in bulk. As a result, it became possible for websites to climb up rankings in a single day reaching the first page of Google for certain keywords.
The practice of buying backlinks and similar techniques challenged Google and other search engines to fix the problem. To tackle the issue, Google started blacklisting websites, decreasing their rankings, and banning them outright. All of a sudden, many websites saw a drastic decrease in their rankings.
For some websites, it meant losing thousands of dollars of revenue in a single day. For others, it meant restarting their journey from ground zero. Even today, Google and other prominent search engines are proactively changing their search algorithms to stop website owners from dodging the system.
Since Google and other major players are putting so much emphasis on backlinks, it’s natural for website owners to feel pressured into buying back links. As status and fear are difficult to overcome, time and time again even rational website owners fall into the trap of buying backlinks.
They continue to buy backlinks because it saves them time and gets them results faster. It’s also true that there are still many websites, platforms, and freelancers who prey on new companies; selling them backlinks. While all these tactics may work initially, Google will eventually catch on which then leads to heavy penalties that can even bankrupt some of the most established websites.
Google has clear guidelines regarding link schemes. These guidelines are regularly published by SEO companies and experts who try to steer people away from buying backlinks; however, website owners disregard their warnings thinking that it’s just a ploy to attract customers into paying the experts to build backlinks.
What does Google say about buying backlinks or, as they call them, Link schemes?…
Interestingly, the first thing that Google mentions in its guidelines regarding link schemes is that it prohibits the buying and selling of backlinks. The exchange of money for links and excessive link exchanges where people link to one other is banned by Google. Anytime Google discovers that you have bought links from a particular link exchange or certain platforms, it will severely penalize your website without giving any reason.
If it happens, you will be left without anywhere to go. The only thing you can do is to contact Google using its webmaster tool and hope that there will be a reply. While Google is not known for replying to such queries, consider yourself lucky if your website is restored at a later stage.
Don’t take our word for it; a little Googling will tell you that most people lose their minds trying to contact Google. Most often, the most practical solution is to remove the bad links, which will ultimately restore the website quickly in a matter of hours. Sometimes, the culprit is only a few bad backlinks, which result in degrading the entire domain. In such cases, deleting those bad backlinks will likely restore the website along with its original ranking on the search engine.
According to Matt Cutts, Google initiates nearly 400,000 manual actions every month. Besides the manual actions, thousands of websites are often hit by Google algorithm updates, which are specifically designed to stop low-quality websites from popping up in the search radar.
For website owners, such explanations by Google executives is a clear sign that the search engine is actively dealing with low-quality backlinks and spam issues. Similarly, there are hundreds of discussions every day on threads where website owners post images of Google’s manual action. All these warnings have one thing in common: Google takes notice of unnatural links and follows them up with stern action, detailing the penalties of artificial or unnatural links coming from your website. Check out one such example from a website owner…
Notices such as these are hard proof that Google considers backlinks a significant deciding factor in ranking the page; therefore, the quality of backlinks can decide the fate of your webpage. As a result, you should avoid purchasing backlinks because Google will eventually catch up to you, and you won’t like the outcome.
The Truth about Backlinking
It may sound strange but it’s true that Google executives don’t promote link building. If you’re new to the world of SEO, this news is likely confusing, as backlinking is a term that is widely used in the SEO community. The fact is, every SEO expert will tell you a different story, which is usually backed by conclusive data, as to why backlinks are the one of the most important components of website ranking.
The apparent anomaly between these two differing claims emerges from the fact that Google doesn’t want website owners to know that the secret sauce to its search ingredient recipe is backlinks. From Google’s perspective, it’s logical that Google would play that particular piece of the puzzle a little close to their vests.
Just imagine what would happen if Matt Cutts (or anyone else in the Google development team) walked out and tells everyone that creating quality backlinks is the most important factor to consider if you want to rank your website. If it happens, everyone will likely focus excessively on link building without worrying about other quality factors such as writing great content and using appropriate keywords. It’s perhaps the reason why you would never hear a Google executive telling you to focus on link building.
Despite what Google suggests, SEO experts already know that link building has time and time again proven to be a large factor in establishing high page rank. Over the years, this fact has been proven numerous times through statistics, data, and theories. Therefore, if someone tells you that link building is not important, just remember that the person has likely just come out from one of Google’s seminars.
Nothing against Google, and if the truth were told, if I were one of Google’s executives or the owner of an emerging search engine, I would probably do the same. After all, there are reasons to continue focusing on all aspects of your website, which DO include high quality backlinks.
“Out of the top results, a full 99.2% of all websites had at least one external link. (The remaining .8% is well within the margin of error expected between Mozscape and Google’s own link index.) The study found almost no websites ranking for competitive search phrases that didn’t have at least a single external link pointing at them, and most had significantly more links.”
Quality of Backlinks
Not all backlinks are created equal, by any stretch of the imagination. This means that there are high-quality backlinks and there are low-quality backlinks. A high-quality backlink is usually a backlink from an authoritative, legitimate website. On the other hand, a low-quality backlink is generally from a very low ranked website, spammy website, or link exchange.
For website owners, this means that they should not focus on the total number of backlinks. Instead, focus should be given to the overall quality and relevant nature of backlinks. According to authentic sources, one or two good quality backlinks from authority websites will give you bang for your backlink bunk than hundreds of links from low authority websites. In fact, those low quality backlinks can actually lower you overall ranking on SERP’s.
What does SERP stand for? This stands for Search Engine Results Page and is the page that follows a query or specific Google search.
Do Follow vs. No Follow Links
Do follow link: A do follow Link is a hyperlink that is able to tell all search engines to pass along its page rank influence to an outbound link.
Nofollow Link: A no follow link is exactly the opposite of a do follow link. It is a hyperlink that removes the ability to pass on its page rank status to other sites.
Before setting up a link building campaign, it’s important to understand the two types of main links: do follow and no follow.
A history of back links suggests that a “do follow” link is perhaps the most important type of link because it will count as a vote of authority. Accordingly, the search engine will only give link power to “do follow” links. Therefore, if you have 100 links that have a “do follow” attribute, the search engine will count all those 100 links towards ranking the page.
In contrast, the search engine will ignore any links that have a “no follow” attribute. It will ignore such links because the external website linking to your page has told the search engine not to count the link.
The “no follow” attribute was introduced to fight spam. It helps fight spam because lots of people were deliberately leaving links on Wikipedia pages and important Forums that often pointed to spammy and low-quality websites. Such links did not help authority websites because anyone could just build a link.
A plausible solution to the dilemma was no follow attribute. These days, most websites such as Wikipedia and Large Forums allow only “no follow” links that do not count as votes. As a result, it helps fight spam.
If these “no follow” links don’t count towards the ranking of a website, then what’s the point in building such links?
While no follow links may not count as a vote, it can definitely get you a lot of traffic if placed on an authoritative website. With the passage of time, hundreds of these no follow links can build a regular stream of referral traffic that will continue non-stop. It means that you will not need to put any effort after placing the link because the link will bring automatic traffic to your website.
In the end, it always helps to build a mix of no follow and do follow links. Even when you’re using a SEO professional to rank your website, ask them if they know about the proportion of do follow vs. no follow links.
Cost of Backlinks 2020
Recent research suggests that the average cost of backlinks 2020 is around $350 for a do-follow link from an authority website. Similarly, many experts also believe that the average cost of a do-follow link from a reputable website will cost anywhere from $20 to $500 from a well-known authority website.
Despite Google guidelines on selling links, you will still see a number of reputable bloggers selling backlinks. Instead of promoting their link-building services, most of these bloggers will entice you to contact them so you can negotiate a price. A few bloggers and reputable websites may bluntly advertise that a link from their website will cost you a particular amount.
These websites are definitely playing with fire because anyone linking to them can come under the radar of Google. On the other hand, it’s also possible to get away with such links because a couple of backlinks from authority websites can definitely give you a huge ranking boost.
If you really want to build quality links, then it’s recommended to contact an SEO expert or an SEO agency as they specialize in helping companies, like yours, build quality no-follow and do-follow backlinks at a reasonable cost within a stipulated time frame. In fact, you will also realize that the average cost of acquiring backlinks working with these professionals is far less than the average backlinks sold by others.
The true cost of backlinks is the cost spent on acquiring natural links. In the long-term, you will agree that building natural links is the most valuable link that you can build and it comes with an iron-clad guarantee that your website will continue to prosper in the long run irrespective of Google updates.
Diib offers tips, tools, and tutorials at your fingertips. We have a huge library of 1000s of videos, articles, white papers, and ebooks for every DIY SEO component under the sun (including backlinking). Be the best DIY Marketer around with Diib!
How Diib Can Help with Backlinks
Diib® has several tools that can help you with backlinks. These include:
- Backlink monitoring for your website
- A competitor backlink checker so that you can see how your competitors are getting their backlinks
- Objectives that find backlinks pointing to old URLs on your website so that you can redirect them to relevant pages and a scan that finds spammy backlinks
- Domain Authority monitoring
If you are looking at buying backlinks, let a diib® Growth Expert speak to you about the best way to acquire natural backlinks to your website.
FAQ: Should I buy backlinks?
Links are not necessarily a measure of success. Some links are bad, and can harm your website, some are good – and can enhance the success of your website. Measures of success that you might report to the client could be non-branded organic traffic or sales/leads from organic search.
As long as you create relevant, high-quality backlinks, they will still be effective in 2020. Google will always, to some degree, use backlinks in its algorithms and updates.
Buying backlinks, of any kind, is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It doesn’t matter whether it’s blogger outreach or whether you are using private blog networks. If Google catches you in any form of backlink fraud, you will get a manual action against your site. Learning to build your own high quality links will be more advantageous in the long run.
Yes, it is possible to earn FREE backlinks. Many blog comment platforms have a website field you can use when you write a comment. That’s one place where you can earn a free backlink. Being a guest blogger on another forum is also a great way to earn backlinks for little to nothing. The one nuance is to focus your efforts on websites that allow comments.
Determine what sharable or high-value content is best for your audience. For example, garden lovers read about gardening, politicians like politics, food lovers read recipes. Next, research content that is relevant and shareable. Publish and share your content. Be sure to ask for links.
Emailing is my favorite way to request backlinks. It’s important to remember that you want to be professional but without sounding like a mass email. Make sure each of your emails is personalized to the recipient and that it includes specific details of how your resources can benefit their website.