When you own a business, inevitably this business has a website. Creating a website is the first step of the process in establishing a strong online presence for your business. The next step is to make sure that your website is discoverable and recommended by search engines. To do this, it is important to get high-quality inbound links to your site from reputable, reliable, and relevant sources. For example, if you own a law firm, getting links from legal search websites or legal directories will help tell search engines that you are relevant to the legal industry. These quality backlinks to your website will help your business rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
What are “good links” to your website?
As mentioned above, it is important to get high-quality links to your website. Sometimes, this may include obtaining a link from an advertisement, a sponsorship, or a moderated directory. In the past, priority has been placed on the quantity of links by including your business in as many directories as possible, regardless of the trustworthiness or relevance of the directory. Google, and other top search engines, have since recalibrated their criteria to focus more on the quality instead of volume.
Inbound links to your website should come from natural sources, like verified directories or professional organizations. For a law firm, websites like Justia, Avvo, or Martindale often rank highest when searching for attorneys because of their trustworthiness and reputation for being a good source when searching for legal representation. Websites like those are reputable directories that search engines trust.
What are “bad links” to your website?
There is a tactic called “black-hat SEO (search engine optimization)” which is used to describe techniques that violate rules or manipulate search engines to obtain better rankings. While some of these tactics are enticing to improve rankings (like purchasing bulk links to your website), they should be avoided to make sure your website is not penalized by search engines.
Google explicitly states in their webmaster guidelines that a tactic like purchasing links to your website may be considered as “part of a link scheme and a violation” of their guidelines. They go on to say that these link schemes can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.
Further, purchasing bulk, spammy links to your website can hurt you in the long run. If the majority of your links come from spammy, untrustworthy websites, Google or other search engines may assume your website is also spammy and untrustworthy, resulting in your website being penalized with lower search rankings.
Rewards and penalties for your link profile
There are many rewards when building a strong link profile for your website. First, your site should enjoy a higher ranking on SERPs, which could result in more business or more contacts from potential customers. Showing search engines that you are trustworthy and a reputable source for information by acquiring links from credible sources is a strong long-term strategy for your business.
On the other hand, a poorly-constructed link profile or a black-hat strategy can result in strong penalties. Google and other search engines can manually assess penalties if they believe you are violating their guidelines. Or, algorithmic penalties may be assessed, where a penalty was automatically applied to your site because an issue was discovered by their web crawlers.
In the end, building a strong link profile for your website using quality backlinks will be better in the long run, save your business from penalties, and help you rank higher in search results.