Link Building Woes: Buying Links may get you into trouble, says Google
Nearly every webmaster on the planet has heard of Google. Whether they like Google or not; the majority of webmasters start to drool over the mere thought of gaining top rankings for the most coveted search terms in their industry because of the huge influx of traffic, and hopefully paying customers, that top placement in Google can bring. Now it seems that Google is changing the search engine optimization (SEO) game for the widely used link building practice of purchasing links. The question is though, how will this change your link building strategy?
Artificial link building: an unethical attempt at search engine rankings manipulation?
For quite a while Google has frowned upon link building strategies that rely on paying for links from high ranking websites; though it seems that Google has done little to nothing in the form of degrading the value of links obtained through this artificial link building method in their ranking algorithm, at least as of yet. From Google's point of view, buying links for search engine optimization purposes is likely seen as unethical; in essence trying to buy your way to better search engine rankings. For a search engine that aspires to return the most relevant results for their search queries, manipulation of their indexes can be seen as a problem that must be overcome if they want to continually improve the relevancy of their search results.
Some link building strategies are already less effective
With other link building methods, such as directory submissions; essentially a free form of rankings manipulation if done for search engine optimization purposes, already beginning to feel the effects of degraded performance in terms of a search engine rankings boost; it was inevitable that Google would also take action against the link building method that requires payment for a biased "stamp of approval" from the websites that offer paid link placement.
In addition to directory submissions, other types of link building strategies are also feeling the effects of degraded performance, and it seems that the types of links that are receiving the diminished SEO effects are from websites that offer outbound links on a variety of topics, though directory submissions and certain types of article marketing, or a link building strategy that requires submission of an article to article directories, seem to be suffering the most at the moment.
News about the action taken against paid link building is not well received by the webmaster community
Some webmasters are already grumbling about this news, though really, any webmaster relying on an artificial link building strategy to increase their search engine rankings is going about search engine optimization in the wrong way anyway. While it's true that Google seems to weigh off page elements, such as the value of a website that a link comes from and the anchor text used to describe your website, than they do on page elements, such as keyword density and meta tag usage (which is essentially ineffective anyway); the correct approach to effective link building starts with your website. If you create a website that is worth linking to, your link building will occur naturally; creating a website that people love is the most effective link building strategy that exists. This is probably what Google is trying to reinforce with their decision to take "action" against links that were paid for, not earned.
As Matt Cutts of Google stated in a recent interview posted on Youtube:
Webmasters might not like this decision by Google, but ultimately it is Google's decision what they do with their website and how they decide to manage their ranking algorithm. Plus, returning the most relevant results in their search queries where placement is dictated by natural linking building, not paid link placement, will ultimately benefit the website owners who achieve top search engine rankings by natural means. This is because the internet community as a whole believes that your website is relevant for whatever search terms you rank highly for; thus creating an atmosphere for your website visitors where when they click through from the search engine results pages (SERPs), they are visiting a website that other people believe is relevant for these search terms.
Artificial link building works against the purpose of a search engine
In reality, any artificial link building strategy really works against the whole purpose of a search engine when the search engine heavily considers the value of incoming links in their ranking algorithm. When people search for something, they expect to find the most relevant and accurate results at the top of the SERPs. In order for a search engine to return the most relevant search results, links from unbiased parties should certainly weigh more heavily than links obtained from a link building strategy that relies on paying for link placement.
While having a solid link building strategy will undoubtedly help for search engine optimization, careful consideration should be made for the link building strategies that you utilize; taking the time to create a website that is worth linking to is undoubtedly the best link building strategy of all.