Yesterday's Advanced Link Building session of Search Engine Strategies featured WebGuerrilla President Greg Boser, an infamous Google spammer, on the same panel as Google's Director of Technology, Craig Silverstein.
Silverstein, who’s been with Google for five years, has seen the evolution of the importance of links. He said a page’s importance equals the aggregate importance of pages linking into it. He also said this method is highly spam-resistant. Of course, this isn’t anything new but these words of wisdom are refreshing to hear from Google.
The Dark Side of the Force: "Link Skanks"
“You want sites with high Page Ranks to link to you,” Silverstein reminded everyone, “and not to other people.”
He recommends using descriptive anchor text and steering away from phrases such as “Click Here.” Get similar sites to link back to your site, attract links with relevant content, and most importantly, he said, “avoid anything that looks skanky.” This includes link farms and anything deceptive. “Don’t link into bad neighborhoods,” he warned.
The “skanky link” reference got a rise out of the audience and quickly became a running joke for the rest of the panel.
One interesting tidbit: the Googlebot pays a lot more attention to page content that visitors can see rather than things people can't see. That’s the reason why Google dropped meta tags.
Apparently, hyphenated domains have also come and gone. This used to be a popular method for spamming search engines but now keywords within hyphens don't matter as much as they used to. Craig pointed out that it’s better to use hyphens than underscores because within Google’s parsing policy underscores in domains are treated as letters while treating hyphens are viewed more like spaces.
He also recommends you put descriptive words in page titles and URLs as signals to the users. Any signals to the users will be perceived as being good in the eye of the Google algorithm.
Greg Boser's three goals of link building:
1. Do whatever it takes to avoid reciprocal linking. Ideally, just have other sites link to your site.
2. Develop an inbound link structure that will help your organic search listings
3. Develop something that continues after a person quits promoting a particular campaign. This includes link-building programs through content syndication, web tools, or desktop applications.
He said it’s important to realize that guestbook spamming, log file spamming, and blog spamming may all result in penalties. He pointed out that there are entire industries supported by spamming Google but all the search engines are currently combating search engine spam.
If what you're doing is too similar to what the “black hats” are doing you might get lumped in with them. Boser doesn't recommend making changes based on what you’re seeing now.
He also pointed out that any link coming in from a nonprofit organization is gold. He wasn’t necessarily implying that nonprofit sites have better quality content, but these links are often less expensive and tax-deductible. Often times they'll put up a link to your site for $200 per year. He cited networkforgood.org as a good source for finding these sites.
Don't get caught up in ODP, he recommended, saying there are sections of the directory that are dying. There are plenty of other links on the web that will prove to be just as beneficial. His advice is to “submit, move on, and forget about it.”