Last month, I shared my thoughts about paying for search engine results with you. We established that the answer to the question ‘Is everyone paying for search engine rankings?’ was yes, yes and thrice YES.
So how on earth is Google currently using its great algorithmic capability to work out search engine results?
I am not going to list every factor for three reasons:
1) I want to concentrate on a big factor here, rather than fill 135 pages and bore you readers rigid!
2) I probably would run out of breath (and brain power!!) to list them all.
3) I don’t every single factor of the algorithm and it’s weighting – nobody does, not even the team at Google!
One thing is for sure, I don’t always agree with the way that the Google algorithm works when it comes to one particular element – links. Google’s official guidelines mention that links should not be bought, or sourced from spammy sites.
However, in practice the opposite often applies…
- The website with the greatest number of links is ranked highest – IMO this is WRONG
- The links do not have to be from a relevant site – IMO this is EVEN MORE WRONG!
This shows that links can be bought easily and utilized to help rankings, despite Google saying that they should not be bought. So does Google have any real way of finding out? – I DON’T THINK SO
I’ve been asking this question to our SEO team for a while now. Why is it that Google ‘likes’ links? And how can this be fair?
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of ‘links’, here’s some background information:
- Links (also known as backlinks) are from another site to your site
- Links can help your Google rankings because ‘they are a useful way of measuring a site’s value’
- The quantity and quality of links count towards your site’s rating
Google’s official guidelines state that links should be from trusted sources and should not be bought and sold illegitimately. This is part of Google’s commitment to make search results fair.
But in reality there is very little sanctioning to determine which links are legitimate and which aren’t. This means that successfully ranking sites often have links from what could only be described as ‘dodgy’ sources and are not penalised at all. Therefore many webmasters continue to buy their links from questionable sources simply because they are getting results.
As buying large quantities of links ultimately comes down to money, then companies with a higher budget can achieve better rankings. But isn’t this at the expense of search relevance?
So how can Google root out this practice? The trouble is that links are an SEO factor that is out of the webmaster’s control. In theory, you can’t help who links to your site and this means there is potential for interference from competitors should Google crack-down on ‘bad’ links.
This leaves Google with a conundrum. Either Google accepts that all links are a ‘vote of confidence’ from other users and gives them all a green light (no matter their legitimacy); or Google decides to ban all links (no matter the relevancy). Or perhaps, and in my opinion, the ‘right’ way would be to use a clever algorithm to root out those links that are irrelevant.
Unfortunately, SEO companies have very little control over Google’s decisions. We have to move with the times and do what Google says (and not necessarily as they do). But is the integrity of search being spoiled by this factor? I would certainly welcome your comments on links and how they should affect SEO rankings.
I often hear people in the SEO world saying all paid links are bad news. If you’re buying links from link farms or spammy sites then Google may penalise your website, but there are also a lot of good quality links out there that are up for grabs.
These could include links generated through press releases, directory listings, article submissions or adverts. All of these sources create links that will bring relevant traffic to your website. They are also available from genuine sources. So why should Google penalise you for paying for these links?
In fact, Google likes to see your site being given a ‘thumbs-up’ by other websites, as this shows positive interaction with your brand. Think of the times you’ve shared a link to a site with a friend because you’ve found it helpful, or fun, or interesting…
So next time you hear the term paid links don’t automatically think ‘bad’, because there are a number of paid links that could be beneficial to your website. Simply give us a call for more information about how to create good quality links to improve your Google rankings.