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Get Backlinks Without Risking Google Penguin's Wrath: Helpful Tips

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Today, backlink building has become riskier than ever before for marketing pros. If you want to get backlinks, it can be tough to do without tripping Google's new detection algorithm for over optimized sites, called Google Penguin. Penguin is designed to keep websites that are using spammy backlinking techniques off the front pages of search results. Keep reading this article to find out what is a backlink quality score, and how to get backlinks on the post-Penguin web.

What is a Backlink?

First, let's start with the basics. What is a backlink? It's when another website links to yours, which is then noticed by search engines. There are many different ways to get backlinks, but first, you'll need to understand some of the basic terminology.

Anchor text is the text of the actual link itself. This text can sometimes just be a single word, but more often it's made of relevant keywords that will attract someone to click on a link. Often, when businesses have just started learning what is a backlink, they'll try to create numerous backlinks with the exact same anchor text.

Some ways to get backlinks are considered positive SEO—that is, they tend to add to the web experience rather than detracting from it. However, other types of backlinks are considered negative SEO. What is a backlink that would be considered negative? Usually, one that appears to be paid for or otherwise is not relevant to the page it's on. If you get backlinks that have nonsense text around them, it's very likely that this will be considered a negative SEO backlink.

What is Google Penguin?

In order to stop people from trying to get backlinks regardless of whether the links were of good quality, Google released an update in April 2012. This update did several things to check the web for sites that showed signs of over optimization.

Over optimization, the way Google explains it, just means websites that are too optimized for their level of overall traffic and their online brand reputation. These websites were appearing too early in queries and had often become over optimized through less than ethical methods.

While Google Penguin only affected about three percent of total search queries, it changed how marketing professionals get backlinks. Penguin now judges websites according to a quality score (which you can check with backlink audit tools), and high quality websites do better for backlinks.

What Do “Over Optimized” Sites Look Like?

Some websites have seen what happens when an overly enthusiastic marketer goes wild with buying backlinks. You may get backlinks, but the links won't really generate much traffic, because they're not usually very good links.

What is a backlink strategy that Google will usually recognize as over optimization? Things like buying large quantities of links when your website is brand new will always set off red flags. Google knows that people don't just go from asking “what is a backlink” to generating hundreds of organic backlinks in just a few days. If your site is picking up links too fast, expect to see Penguin squash it.

If your anchor text all appears identical on a huge variety of websites, this is also a Penguin red flag. In the same way, if you get backlinks by posting a large number of comments on unmoderated blogs that accept any comment made, you'll be identified as a spammer and see your search engine rankings drop accordingly.

Usually, any time you get backlinks from a low quality website, you should be a little bit worried about the prospect of over optimization. A few of these links won't hurt you, but unless you balance them out with some high quality links, you could be looking at Penguin trouble.

What is a Backlink From a High Quality Site?

Ideally, you'll want to get backlinks from the highest quality sites you can. But what is a backlink from a high quality website going to do for you that one on a mid-ranked blog can't? Simple: it'll raise your search engine results by much, much more. That's why it's a great idea to focus at least some of your attention on this method to get backlinks. Because attorneys are legal professionals with highly prestigious businesses, it can be much easier for lawyers to get press coverage from high quality websites than other types of businesses using SEO.

What is a Backlink Tier?

If you're so backlinked that even your backlinks have backlinks, congratulations—you're using one of the best new techniques to get backlinks. This is called “tiering,” and can make Google consider your website even more high quality than it already is. By backlinking to backlinks that connect to your website, you give those backlinks more credibility and help your own in the process.

For the truly serious web marketing professional, three tiers (linking to backlinks of a backlink) is not out of the question. If you're new to backlinking and are just beginning to ask “what is a backlink,” this technique may not be for you, but otherwise it's one you should consider.

What is a Backlink Strategy for 2012 and 2013?

The best strategy to get backlinks in 2012 is to focus yourself completely on high quality. Low quality links won't bring in new clients, and they're becoming increasingly bad bets when it comes to search engine optimization. Make sure that your website's quality level is kept high and that you are regularly auditing your backlinks for any issues with links from bad sources or irrelevant, out of context links created by spambots.

2013 looks like it will be the era of no shortcuts for most people who want to get backlinks. Instead of creating explosive growth by spending a lot of marketing dollars right away, slow and steady will win the race. Slow, high quality growth is growth that you can depend on for the future, and that will only serve to enhance your reputation. Don't make the mistake of using old strategies—use new resources that take Penguin into account before you decide how to build links in 2012.

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