Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Linking at the Speed of Light

Search engine visibility can make or break a website. For those of you who use website as the only channel for doing business, shutting shop could be the only viable option left in the given scenario.

The importance of link building stems from the significance of online visibility for any given website, and how it can be ‘effectively’ implemented to gain this visibility. I have stressed on the word ‘effectively’ because if done wrong, it could potentially destroy everything you worked hard to build. Over the years, I have witnessed unnatural link building play havoc with organic ranking and has been surmised in countless posts.

Search engines, especially Google, have ranking algorithms that consider links as a ranking parameter. There are hundreds of other ranking parameters but link building is the most abused/overused one. Many of us fail to comprehend the fact that it would only deliver the goods if done ‘Right’. Links coming in ‘fast and furious’ is most likely to trigger ‘link spam filters’ devised by search engines to keep spammers at bay. Drop in organic search rankings is the most likely outcome of link spamming. And you can not use ignorance as your alibi.

‘Slow and steady wins the race’ seems to be the mantra for successful link building. Building links at a pace that appears natural to search engines is imperative to avoid any detrimental effect. Nobody (including me) can be certain about the exact number of links that needs to be developed, over a certain period of time, to make it look natural. Your guess is as good as mine.

Anecdotal data suggests that 5-8 links developed over a period of one week does not attract the attention of spam filters. While other people may have their own numbers to go by, based on their experience, 5-8 links/week is more or less a general consensus.

Are there any exclusion to this rule, well yes – social media. The link acquisition speed on social media can be phenomenal if you hit the right spot. Social media command an astounding foot-fall and the influx of links could surpass your wildest imagination. It shouldn’t, however, ring the alarm bell. Search engines treat them as regular links and are absorbed in the algorithm.

If I had to summarize this post in one line it would be “As organic food is to your health, natural link building is to your website.”