Okay, yes – we have talked about links in this series already, but due to the nature of the confusion around the topic of links we feel the need to expand on this a bit more.
A local company who is a competitor of ours recently posted a blog in regards to the Penguin update. During their post they asserted that the Penguin update does not target good links like those found on StumbleUpon.
Links that are placed on sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook, etc all use what is called a “nofollow” attribute. It looks like something like this <a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link text</a>. What this means is the search engines do not provide any weight whatsoever to these links, they are simply ignored.
This however does not mean that sites like StumbleUpon are a waste of your resources. They provide many benefits, the most of which is exposure. Even though the search engines discard the links from these sites, visitors to these social networking sites still see your site and can provide valuable traffic to your website.
The same company mentioned above, went on in their same blog post and stated that bad links (i.e. ones that were paid for) could run the risk of being detrimental to an entire website.
Here is a video from Google’s Matt Cutts – Head of Spam at Google on this very subject- Listen in this short video as he directly contradicts what other SEO companies are trying to sell their clients.
Don’t exchange links. This is simply not true. What is true is you should only exchange links sparingly. Don’t over due it. However, if you have quality content, and you feel your visitors would benefit from heading over to another website, and that websites feels the same about your website, there is nothing wrong with exchanging a link or two.
Let’s see what Google’s Matt Cutts had to say on the subject.
Q: People are all about links but then there’s a concern about linking to bad neighborhoods. How do you identify bad neighborhoods? Should you nofollow them or stay away totally?
Matt: Use your gut. Trading links is natural and it’s natural to have reciprocal links. At some level, natural reciprocal links happen, but if you do it way too often, it looks artificial. My advice is to go with your gut and if you’re worried, you can use nofollow.
There are two lessons to take away from this post. One – There are a lot of companies who claim to be SEO experts, the sad truth is, most of them are not. If your SEO company does not take the time to undertand the technologies and best practices, in the long run they will do more harm then good.
The second lesson is what we have been saying all through this series. Write your content for your site visitors, not the search engines. If you market your website honestly, effectively, and with the help of true professionals, you cannot go wrong.