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Are Backlinks Now Bad?

Updated on March 29, 2012

Google Say No To Some Backlinks

It was only recently that I asked a question on HubPages about whether it was worth paying for backlinks or not. Well maybe I had some kind of ESP on this (well, maybe not!) but it seems that Google have sent a message saying 'NO!'

Some of you may have read recently that some of the paid blog networks have been deindexed by Google. These networks are ones where you can pay for backlinks to your website or else you can get reciprocal backlinks from them and this may help the visibility of your site in the Google search results.

One of the biggest blog networks that was deindexed was BuildMyRank (you can read their announcement here) and they admitted themselves that it had happened. There were also others that suffered the same fate and apparently Matt Cutts, who is head of Webspam at Google, has had these website in his sights for a while to see of they are skewing the Google search results.

Some backlinks may longer be valid if you have used paid linking sites
Some backlinks may longer be valid if you have used paid linking sites

To Backlink or Not to Backlink?

Much of the emphasis on where sites are placed in the search engine rankings was focussed on what kind of backlinks a site had, what kind of quality they were and also to a certain extent the quantity. Now we have to ask ourselves if that is still the case. Backlinks were supposed to add kudos to a website but many webmasters used black hat SEO techniques to create large numbers of backlinks that were not relevant or 'natural' as Google wants to see.

The mystery of the Google algorithm remains. But the answer seems to be the more naturally popular you can make your site or article, the better it is going to be. It is likely still advantageous to at least have a few backlinks pointing in, and althogh I for sure don't profess to being any expert in SEO, albeit I have done quite a bit of work on websites over the last few years, I will still be backlinking my sites and articles manually.

I think one thing that I will take from this is that I will not be paying for any backlinks. It sounds likely that companies offering a paid backlink service may well be penalised in future and those backlinks may not be indexed, thus wasting your money. However, some are also saying that links from places like Ezine may also be in jeopardy so it is worth keeping an eye out on what happens.

Are Forward Links Good?

If backlinks are bad then I am asking myself if forward (or rather outward facing) links are good? Let's say that you are linking out to .edu site then wouldn't that show that you were a responsible site owner that wanted to provide links to valid material? Is that what Google might think. Might it also show that you are not afraid of people leaving your site and so what you are trying to do is to provide the best information possible to the reader?

That seems to be the goal that Google are wanting - for the reader to be able to get the information that they are looking for. So if something helps towards that goal then maybe sites will be valued for doing that.

What Is The Google Future?

Let's face it, right now Google provides the majority of organic traffic to both hubs and websites (or you hope that it does anyway) so we are always going to want to do what sits well in Google's eyes. maybe the way of doing that is to not try and match the Google algorithm but just to take a step back and look at what Google wants for it's readers - to get answers in effect - and to provide the answers and information.

It has always been the goal of most hubbers to create quality unique content and that in itself is the best answer to stay in Google's good books it seems. Although we may not always get the traffic we want there are constant updates of the algorithm (including one 3 days ago apparently) that may change things at any time.


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    • Modern Lady profile image

      Modern Lady 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      This is a very interesting take on Panda. Helpful and informative.

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      I'm sure the Ezine people are worried as well.. I don't link out to any other site as of now other than Wikipedia :) I guess that's a good place to link to as well if they ever make a difference. What ever happens I don't link to my competition not even Wikipedia if that particular page ranks above my hub :)

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks for all of your comments. @jenbouka, I agree that it should not be OK to pay for large numbers of backlinks but I guess there are always people who will do what is not right to get ahead. Good idea about notifying the site you are linking to, if you are able to.

      @Melis Ann - yes, I agree that the best way to get results is to provide high quality hubs for sure.

      @lobobrandon - I have to say I am nervous about ezine after the happenings of the last few weeks and I wonder if ezine are nervous themselves. Although there are some good articles on there, from what I have seen people write on there for the backlinks mainly as it has a high PR. I don't think there is much incentive for people to write good stuff on ezine because the writers don't get anything out of it apart from the traffic from their links - there is no revenue sharing so essentially the people who write things are going to want you to go elsewhere.

      With regard to forward links, my personal feeling is that good ones could be beneficial - but that is only a gut feeling and I don't have any evidence on that. I have some links to research articles on some of my websites as I think this info is really beneficial to my readers and give some kudos to the info that I am writing about.

      @Millionaire Tips - I agree with not focusing on what Google wants - for no other reason than they might want something different tomorrow so it is best just focusing on quality content and that should always win

      @Marcy - Yes, it is good that Google is penalising those that just effectively pay to get their sites at the top of the rankings as that is not the way the web should work.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I'm glad Google is finding a way to identify and penalize those sites and companies that are gaming the system. Unless this is stopped, the quality of content on the Internet will continue to deterorate and will become more and more driven by commercialization. People turn to the Web for information, and back linking for profit only serves to raise the stock of those who can afford the service, whether the content is the highest quality or not.

      Very interesting hub - thanks for publishing.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I agree with Melis Ann. Instead of focusing on what Google wants, I try to provide quality hubs that my readers will want. I share a link to my hub to one or two sites - mostly my Facebook friends, and hope that they like it enough to share the link. I don't waste my time with advertising. If my hub is any good, it will automatically take off from HubPages links, and the one or two outside places I've linked it.

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      I had a question about Ezine, do you think they'd be blocked? I say no because they do have a team of editors right and at present all that google wants to stop is spam. If you can write well on Ezine then surely you'll be able to write well for your site/hub right?

      Also, if you're paying for articles that are going to be published on Ezine or other such directories then surely you're going to be paying for the ones you have on your webiste too. So, according to me Ezine should be safe for the time being. But, we can't say what the big G has up its sleeve :)

      Also, you didn't clearly state what you had to say about forward links are they going to be helpful? For now all I add is wikepedia :D just to help my readers gain confidence after reading my hubs - as everyone believes the wiki right?

      Well written hub, voted up and shared. I'm sure its going to help many people who had the same question as you :D

    • Melis Ann profile image

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      You bring the whole purpose of writing on HubPages into perspective. This has affirmed my goal to write high quality, informative hubs that answer real questions for families interested in different health topics. Providing resources and ideas will help people reading hubs and in the end, help traffic come to hubs organically. Otherwise, it really is spam.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      Oh Azure, how this question boggles my mind, so thank you for your insight on the matter. I think, which is not to say much, but if you are paying for a large number of backlinks to your site, then you are not an organic entity on the web. It takes time, and I mean a lot of time for others to backlink to your article if at all. So my theory is take the organic backlinking, do not try to find it, provide high PR links with in your article that are useful and intended to enhance your content, if you are smart you will notify and ask the site (if applicable) that you would like to include their link on your site....Never know they might return the favor.