With all of the talk lately surrounding Google’s new algorithm update (known as “Penguin”), it’s important for website owners and Internet marketers to understand the meanings of certain search engine ranking terms. Today we’re going to cover organic links since link spam is at the forefront of websites getting penalized in Google’s search engine results and in their pagerank system. In our next post, we’re going to cover hidden text and hidden links to further expand the subject matter.
What exactly is an organic link?
Definitions will vary, but simply stated:
- An organic link is a link from another website that links back to your website
- For the link to be truly organic, the site that linked to your site opted to link to your site because they want to
An organic link is NOT
- A link that was purchased by you
- A link that was placed due to some other type of incentive between you and the other website owner
- A link that was made by you on another website pointing back to your own website (more on this below)
- Links obtained by participating in link farms
It gets a little complicated when it comes to link building via commenting systems because it’s often assumed that the website being commented on is being moderated. Therefore, if the website owner approves the comment with the link in it, it’s pretty close to being organic. The problem however is that since so many websites are set up to where visitors can leave comments, links that are contained within comments aren’t weighed as heavily as links that are in the body of the website (main content areas).
More on organic links…
If there’s any confusion regarding why organic links matter, it’s best said that organic links count as votes towards your website’s importance and popularity. The more people that view your content and website as important, the more trusting the search engines are of it.
Website owners are quickly starting to realize that Google is picky with links. It wants your site to have links but it prefers those links to be organic. Also, since the algorithm keeps changing and being updated, links that used to be ok to have are now considered middle of the road or even bad links and due to this, website owners see their pagerank decrease with updates even if they’re not doing anything differently than they have in the past.
Other issues can arise when a website receives a lot of links in a very short period of time. When this happens, the search engines start to wonder what’s going on as it seems suspicious. Most of the time it’s assumed that the website owner is trying to get as many links as possible in a short period of time and unfortunately, most of the links aren’t usually organic. However, there are instances where it’s not the website owner’s fault and this is where anti-link spam algorithms fail. There’s nothing stopping other people from linking to a certain website if they want to. Those without good intentions can actually link spam other websites and cause potential problems. If the website is penalized, it’s the website owner’s responsibility to fix the problem which isn’t always easy.
In the end, if your website has great content and it contains product, services or information that people want or need on it, the organic links will eventually come. In the meantime, it’s always best to weigh the pros and cons with any link building campaign and with the most recent algorithm update in Google, it should be pretty clear what links are acceptable and which ones aren’t.