Backlink Building in 2021

Should I Buy Backlinks?

Sellers all over the place offer it. Hundreds of backlinks for a low cost, and I’m sure that recently, if you check your spam folder, even more people are trying to sell backlinks on websites, listing their domain authority, page situated etc. It’s called backlink outreach, blog outreach, guest posting, and so forth.

If you have been working on your on-page SEO and carried out some research on off-page techniques, you may have read that external links to your website can be good for SEO. What you should definitely be aware of is that backlinks can have the opposite effect, especially if Google punishes your website for having an unnatural backlink profile –  and this is because it’s one of the things that grinds Google’s gears. We have come across many PBN’s (Private Backlink Networks), Google calls them link farms, we call them a pain in the ass, just try to avoid doing it.

Why Does Google Punish An Unnatural Backlink Profile?

Since the Penguin Update in 2012, Google has declared war on bad backlinks, and they refer to them as link farms since said update. Google has been building and developing control mechanisms (and algorithms) specifically designed to undermine bad backlink practices. Google can usually recognise large changes in your backlink profile within a few weeks, they will understand the history of a website and the metrics related to your backlink profile. If backlinks to your website have been organically growing over time, then all of a sudden you get an influx of hundreds of links and referring domains, red flags will be raised and your methodology will be questioned. Even if all your new backlinks are high quality, Google would still question if your backlinks have been gained unnaturally.

What Google want is simple: They want backlinks to be developed in a natural way, and organically.

What Are The Consequences Of A Google Penalty?

If Google discovers that your backlinks that are less than natural, the site could receive a ‘Manual Action’. You may receive a warning through Google Search Console. As a result of this, the website often loses its gravitas in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). We once had a customer who came to us for help because they had lost 96% of their organic clicks in a 2 month period Vs previous months and they didn’t understand why.

The problem with a Google Manual Action is that a website can take several months or even years to recover from such a punishment. We have helped customers over the years have their Manual Actions reversed, and believe us, it’s not the easiest thing to action. Cleaning up a negative backlink profile is one of the most time consuming efforts in SEO. 

Our job usually consists of identifying all the toxic backlinks to create a disavow list. Next, this list is uploaded to Google. Google then ignores these links which basically means they are not being considered as ranking factors anymore. We want Google not to consider these links anymore as you’re stating that they are all spammy backlinks.

The last step is to send a personal message to Google called the Reconsideration Request. After this, it can take several weeks until a Google employee checks these links and decides whether all existing spammy backlinks have been listed on that disavow list. Usually Google then sends a message that the disavow list is not complete and it cannot remove the punishment. If this is the case, the disavow list needs to be expanded and the process repeated until Google finally accepts the disavow list as complete and they accept the Reconsideration Request. 

After a successful Reconsideration Request, the website can take up to a year to recover. The lost keyword rankings won’t reappear in the search engines overnight. They usually stay lost and the website has to rebuild trust from scratch. Usually a full fat SEO campaign is needed to get the website back to where it once was.

A Good Backlink Strategy

Backlinks should not be placed on websites that have made backlinking a concept. Brian Dean of Backlinko, one of the leading experts in backlink building, recommends to create a list of potential backlink partners, while at the same time to avoid large portals that also monetise articles and backlinks from external sources. This also includes large portals like Forbes, Times, Money, and many others.

For a healthy backlink strategy, you have to make sure the website has all of these features:

  • Backlink Virgin – Setting backlinks is not part of the concept and is not a the purpose of the website.
  • Topic Relevancy – The website should be relevant to your topic – the closer the website is to your topic, the better.
  • Low Spam Score – It pays off to have a look at moz.com to see what the spam score of the website is you want to place a backlink on. If the spam score is high, setting a backlink there would be a no-no.
  • Domain Authority – And while you’re at it, check the Domain Authority (DA) of the website and see if it’s worth the struggle.

Backlinks are usually cultivated by contacting a sites webmaster. A cover letter also needs to be carefully prepared and should explain the benefits to them of linking your website on theirs. There are many ways to motivate other website owners or webmasters to place a backlink for you, and remember that content is king and having associated content is a win-win all around.

Do I Need A Backlink Strategy?

Backlinks can definitely improve your search engine performance, but backlinks are not as important as they were a couple of years ago. In 2021, websites without backlinks can perform superbly. For example, good SEO strategies, which include high-quality content creation, have the opportunity to be very successful even without even having one backlink.

We have had great success with our clients who have gone on to achieve great results without a high number of backlinks, but also great success with those who we develop backlinks for. Backlink building ‘can’ be a success factor, but is not so key to SEO anymore.

If you would like to discuss your backlinks or any other area of SEO with us, please email hello@greyzip.com, use our online contact form or call 0800 599 9665.

Published On: April 29th, 2021 / Categories: Search Engine Optimisation, Advice /