Eric Enge is an SEO consultant who periodically arranges interesting interviews with Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam Team. Eric just posted his latest interview with Matt, Link Building is Not Illegal or Inherently Bad. The interview does add some useful information about the ever-changing do’s and dont’s regarding link building and Google’s ingoing vendetta against poor quality link building.
You can read through the interview in its entirety. I have provided the following summary of some of the more interesting points.
A link from a press release site will probably not count, but if that entices someone to write about your site, their link would count
This is the first time we have heard that using press releases to build links does not produce a valid link, but at least the link is not currently penalized. If you are using press releases to generate links, keep in mind that this can still be a good tactic for developing brand recognition, but it looks like Google has neutered the link from press release sites.
Eric Enge suggests that a good way to build links is to develop a strong presence in Twitter, FaceBook and Google+
Matt Cutts agrees, but if you read into his comments, a social networking presence helps build visibility, “and then that audience will likely share it, and start doing other things that cause visibility and cause it to rank.” Matt Cutts is not saying that social networking links help a site to rank well. We know from other conversations he has had that Google has not found a way to use social networking sites to affect higher rank positions for other sites.
Almost all social networking sites add a nofollow attribute to outbound links, which neuters the links from a search engine perspective. What he is saying is that developing a social network presence will encourage others to write about your site, which helps develop backlinks through those articles. Google is still attempting to find a way to reliably use social networking signals, but those signals are so easy to “game” that they have not found a reasonable way to do it.
Social networking can be good for generating traffic if you have a business that easily attracts social network followers and friends, such as a site that sells music or products that cater to the 20-something crowd. It does not work well if you are an electrician, a plumber or focus on services that do not attract a lot of repeat business. In my opinion, the entire focus on social networking is misplaced because it does very little or nothing to benefit the overwhelming majority of businesses.
Matt Cutts says: I firmly support the idea that people should have a diversified way of reaching their audience
I fully agree. What he is really saying is that you should not depend solely upon Google for your web site traffic. That also lets Google off the hook for the sharp decline in traffic experienced by way too many good sites that never violated any of Google’s guidelines, such as all of the small e-commerce sites that have taken a back seat in the rankings to all of the big name, top brand online stores. The real marketing issue is in finding other ways to generate traffic.
Building Authorship Helps a Site’s Rankings
Authorship is a concept that Google has been pushing for over a year. It is one way to get people to sign up for their Google+ social network. The link to my Google+ account that you will find above this article, and the association with this site that is set up in the Google+ account, establishes me as the author of this article and creates authorship. Anonymous articles and articles attributed solely to a company name are not going to help sites to rank better in the future. Google is pushing everyone out of the shadows and into more public exposure on the web. That may or may not be a good thing, but we are not given a choice if you want to take advantage of whatever ranking benefits Google may associate with authorship.
On Content Syndication
This is a touchy area that Cutts had to dance around a bit. Syndication is duplicate content and duplicate content can create penalties with their Panda updates. Matt repeats his recommendation that a link back to the original content be embedded in the syndicated version of an article in order to establish authorship. That is a very nice concept, but only works with major legitimate syndication systems, such as news sites. It does not work with articles posted to article directories that anyone can freely publish on their sites.
Be careful about allowing anyone to copy and re-publish content from your web site. If another site is seen as having higher authority than your site, the other site will be seen as having the original version of the article. if you are going to syndicate content, use a different version of the article than the one found on your site, or as Matt suggests, “a much cleaner way of dealing with this is to create content for syndication and not publish it on your site.”
About Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is where you write content that appears on other blogs. The real issue here is the quality of the articles. Any articles you write should be high quality, original, and should only be published on sites focusing on the same topic as your web site. Look for sites that already rank well for your targeted keyword themes. Avoid posting articles on blog networks or sites that have no specific focus.
There is more detail in the Matt Cutts interview article, but these are the major points as I saw them.