Google has just updated their link schemes document to include warnings against large-scale guest posting, advertorials and paid links that pass page rank and press releases with optimized anchor text. So, what does this mean for the future of link building? Obviously, these are tactics that many included in their SEO strategy. Guest posting and press releases were thought to be relatively safe methods to gain links, but now those methods are being called into question. As it turns out, Google's demands aren't completely unreasonable.
You are still free to guest post where you'd like, as much as you'd like. What Google warns about is guest posting on a large scale in order to pass page rank through keyword rich anchor texts. If you guest blog only for the purpose of building links, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. The search engine giant is particularly looking at those who guest post on a large scale to sites with little or no value to the end user. This can lead to penalization, both for the hosting site and for your own. If you participate in guest blogging activities on a large scale, use nofollow tags for your anchor text, or at least use nofollow tags sometimes. Varying your anchor text is also helpful to avoid over-optimization of certain keywords and key phrases.
Advertisements and Paid Links
Paid advertisements that pass page rank in any form have been frowned on by Google for a long time, so this comes as no surprise. Native advertising, too, will be taking a hit. Basically, Google wants you to avoid paying for links at all costs. If you use paid links, request that the hosting site place nofollow tags in the link to avoid passing page rank.
Finally, the rules about press releases are what come as the biggest surprise. Press releases have been used for some time both for branding and for gaining authority using keyword rich anchor text. Google sees these as unnatural links when anchor text is optimized in press releases which, of course, are syndicated to a number of different sites. Use press releases for branding purposes rather than gaining followed backlinks. If you use optimized anchor text within the press release, use nofollow tags to avoid penalties.
In conclusion, these new updates to the link schemes document don't affect most webmasters or bloggers. Most people who guest post do it to get additional traffic and to expose themselves to a new audience. Even those who post for the backlinks usually don't do it to a large enough scale that it's noticeable. Still, it's important to follow the guidelines set forth by Google because they have a monopoly on search traffic. You don't want to risk being penalized – or worse, banned – by the largest, most used search engine in the world. The takeaway message is that you should work toward gaining links naturally and avoid large-scale efforts to rank for certain keyword phrases.
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