Absolutely not! Good SEO firms know that backlinking still matters for the purposes of achieving favorable search engine rankings. However, Google Penguin has changed the way we acquire links and the sites we strive to acquire them from. Now, the goal is to make sure that the entire backlink profile is populated by organic backlinks only.
Organic vs. Inorganic Backlinks
An organic backlink is one that supports your SEO strategy by boosting your organic search engine rankings. By receiving a link from a site that is relevant to your audience, your content becomes more relevant, and therefore your web page becomes more authoritative for the keywords you share with the site that linked to you. When users search for those keywords, your site will be more easily found because the content is relevant to their searches – thanks, in part, to the organic backlinks you received. SEO and backlinks (a.k.a. “good links”) work hand in hand.
Inorganic backlinks are the opposite of this, in that they are links you receive from sites that are not relevant to your content or your audience. They will not have a positive impact on your search rankings; in fact, if they are detected by Google Penguin, they may lead to you receiving penalties in the form of lower search engine rankings. That is why all the backlinks you receive should be screened to confirm that they are organic.
Screening for Organic Backlinks
When another site links to yours, it can be exciting; after all, link building is essential to your SEO efforts. But every time you receive a backlink from another site, you or your SEO provider should screen it to be sure it is an organic link that will help your search engine rankings. The test that is used for this has been called the “RAID” test, thanks to this acronym:
Relevance: Is this link coming from a source that is relevant to your content and your audience? If the answer to that question is no, in the overwhelmingly majority of cases, the links coming from websites that are not immediately relevant to yours, even if provided in earnest, will not positively influence your ranking. These types of links are there for tangential benefit to those sites’ readers, not your SEO.
Authority and Influence: Is this link coming from a site that, at least according to search engines, is authoritative, either because the business is well known or the site is regarded as popular or influential? These are factors that affect traffic, which give the site authority in the eyes of Google. The more authoritative and influential the site that is providing a link is, the more valuable the links they provide actually are.
Diversity: Does this backlink give my linking profile diversity, in the sense that it broadens or deepens my digital footprint? Directories don’t carry the same weight as they once did, but social bookmarks, blog comments & guest posts, branded social properties, syndicated multimedia content, press releases, offsite articles (from the aforementioned “authority sites” in your industry) and a whole bevy of other varying link sources still enhance a site’s back-link profile in meaningful ways. Make sure you take advantage of as many as are applicable to your business.
When another site links to you, make sure the link passes the RAID test. If it does not, the tool can be used to reject those links and remove them from your profile. But as Google warns, this tool must be used with caution. It is far better to trust the cleanup of your backlink profile to an expert; this is one area where hiring an SEO firm can be very helpful. Crest Media can find out who is linking to you and eliminate harmful inorganic backlinks from your site – so your backlink profile can impact your rankings in a positive way.