What is link Schemes and how to avoid for better Google rankings?
The concept of link scheme is a procedure of linking your site with other website to get higher page rank as well as backlink that is totally pointless to your blog visitors.
Before introducing Google Penguin link scheme was widely used and it was very useful to get higher rank on search engine result page, but now this is useless and harmful for any website.
Because Google considering those links as spam. In extreme cases, Google provide manual penalty and completely remove site from search engine.
So we should stop engaging with Link schemes.
Many of us practicing link scheme actively and some are doing inactively. But you may not aware about the bad effect of link scheme.
Let’s have a look on an example,
In your blog post or website you are recommending an irrelevant site URL, which may not useful to your blog visitors, this activity will be treated as link scheme.
You must link a relevant site externally with no-follow tag to get ride off from link scheme.
Suppose you’re running a coffee shop business name "Anthonys Espresso” Coffee and promoting your site in a Personal Finance websites to gain local customer. Your added URL on Personal Finance site may not relevant to your site visitors.
As a result, this activity will treat as link scheme.
What is a link scheme?
Using any links to manipulate a website rank or PageRank in Google search engine results considered as an activity of link scheme.
Link scheme includes any behavior that manipulates link to your site, as well as outgoing or external links from your site. And this is completely violating Google Webmaster Guidelines.
We can say about reciprocal link that you are linking with a site on the other hand; you are including a link of that site in your blog. This is totally awful activity and Google will detect this kind of link easily through Penguin algorithm update.
While we create link then what is good and what is bad?
- Good - You are creating a relevant link of a popular website and recommending it to your visitors with no-follow URL.
- Bad - You are creating a link intended to increase your site's ranking or PageRank.
There are many website that accept low quality guest articles and we can embed a link there easily. But those low quality spammy website with full of low quality zombie contents, maybe penalize by Google Penguin algorithm.
If you link your blog with those low quality sites then ultimately your site rank will go down, not up and you won’t get any higher page rank.
Eventually it will end up with Google penalty and significantly affect your site traffic. So you should avoid those movements to get ride from Link Schemes.
What are paid links?
Most of the link scheme incur with paid links. And direct advertisement in a website sometimes also known as "paid links", because someone or advertiser is paying the website owner to place a link on their page that point to their page.
That link might be place within an image ad or a text ad, but it will practically always be something on your page that links to another page.
So paid link often used for link scheming purpose.
How to determine link scheme?
How do you know that you are engaging with link scheme?
To determine the link scheme Google has provided some guidelines and those link schemes examples can negatively impact a site rank and drop organic traffic dramatically. Those are as follows:
- Buying links that pass PageRank by exchanging money.
- Selling links that pass PageRank by exchanging money.
- Exchanging incentives like cash, free products or services for including link in article.
- Excessive cross linking exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you").
- Using link generating software or other automated programs.
- Large-scale paid article marketing to get do-follow link.
- Guest posting campaigns in-exchange of do-follow URL.
- Paid ads and advertorials with links which is less credible than other information.
- Submitting site in Low-quality web directories to generate backlink.
- To get backlink submitting your website to low-quality bookmark sites.
If you are practicing any activity of the above examples then you are practicing link scheme. To know details about bad link ahrefs published an infographics
1. Buying links that pass PageRank by exchanging money
Many company and webmaster buy the Paid Link to drive traffic and pass page rank.
If you purchase link in exchange of money to pass the page rank from other site through do-follow URL then initially you will get backlink but eventually this is ineffective practice, because Google simply ignore those paid link.
Moreover, many websites already penalized by Google for paid links. Don’t think it will increase your website rank; rather this will decrease rank and affect your site’s organic traffic.
2. Selling links that pass PageRank by exchanging money
This activity is interconnected with buying link. Suppose you have a good quality website but you are selling link to other low quality website by placing their URLs, this will also count as link scheme.
Placing so many URLs in your site that pointing to low quality websites can downgrade your site rank or PageRank.
When Google Penguin visit your site and detect those URLs then they will penalize your site.
3. Exchanging incentives like cash, free products or services for including link in article.
This is another mistake that is doing by most of the blogger. Linking with unrelated or irrelevant websites also part of link scheming.
Many blogger include link in exchange of cash, free products or services, which is not good and effective for site rank.
Suppose your site is about “Hair Loss” and you have linked with a “Pet Care” website then it would be irrelevant linking, which is a part of link scheming.
Google also may penalize your site for irrelevant outbound links.
4. Excessive cross linking exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you")
Participating in extreme reciprocal Links also involve link scheming activity.
Some website provides link exchange or Partnership links bidding facility that is not a good idea, because this is completely violating the webmaster guidelines. As a result, your site will be affected by Google Penguin updates.
If you are linking your site with another website and giving a link back to that site that is called Reciprocal links.
“Link to me and I'll link to you"
So if you do this kind of reciprocal link exchange then your site rank may harmfully impact.
5. Using link generating software or other automated programs
There are many automated software that generate thousands of low quality backlink within shortest period of time.
Those links are not useful for getting higher rank in search engine. Rather Google will penalize those sites easily.
There are some preset services such as auto link building service that sell to generate quick backlink. In addition, using auto pinging service also creates backlink, which is not good for site rank.
6. Large-scale paid article marketing to get do-follow link
There is many large-scale article marketing or paid guest posting campaigns practice link scheme, where they pay different websites for article publication. Those paid article and guest post often include links to pass the page rank and this is also a link scheme practice.
As a result many irrelevant site link with your site, which violate Google webmaster guidelines.
7. Guest posting campaigns in-exchange of do-follow URL
If you are accepting and publishing guest articles without exchanging any incentives, but providing do-follow URLs for passing page rank then it would be treat as link scheme.
Google doesn’t like guest articles but if you follow some rules then it won’t be harmful for your site. Through guest post if your website passes the link juice to another site, then this is bad for your site rank.
8. Paid ads and advertorials with links which is less credible than other information.
Many company and website owner using paid text or banner advertisement to promote their site. But if you place add in an irrelevant site with links, which is less credible than other information, and then it will be count as link scheme.
Suppose you are using text advertisement with hidden links that will lead to link scheming. This is completely bad for page rank.
Though you are getting some traffic and backlink for short time but it will drop your page rank for long run.
And the site that link to you that may link to other spammy site, which will make your text link spammy too.
9. Submitting site in Low-quality web directories to generate backlink
Selecting low quality directory to submit your site can adversely impact your site.
There are many new and low quality directory sites available over the net, where you can generate backlinks by joining them.
Indeed, those sites are not suitable for generating good quality link.
Google Penguin algorithm not only analyzes your incoming links but also scrutinize your outgoing links that plays a big role for your page rank.
10. To get backlink submitting your website to low-quality bookmark sites
There are also many bookmark service that accept link, but most of them are low quality and stack with unnatural links.
If you submit or bookmark your site to those bookmark service provider website then your site rank will adversely impact.
What is Unnatural links that violate Google Webmaster?
Unnatural link create by webmaster and place link in their website or articles to pass WebsiteRank or PageRank.
Google will also provide manual penalty to those sites that include unnatural links.
According to Google:
Creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines.
Let’s have a look few examples of unnatural links that may violate Google Webmaster guidelines:
- Unnatural links placed or vouched by the site’s owner on a page.
- Any Text advertisements that placed for pass PageRank.
- Any kinds of Advertorials or native advertising with URLs placed in articles that pass PageRank.
- Using keyword optimized anchor text in articles or Press release
- Including low-quality directory links.
- Integrating bookmark site link into your article or blog.
- Hidden links with anchor text side-wide footer links (It can be seen in themes and templates)
- Including optimized links within user’s signature in Forum comments
- Hidden or low-quality Keyword-rich links embedded in widgets for free distribution.
Those are the examples of unnatural links that are generating by many webmasters. They are getting benefits from unnatural links for shortest period of time but for long run this will negatively impact their site.
By leaving comments with signatures to various forums, you are also producing unnatural link. Maybe those forums are spammy and you are unaware about that, but search engine may penalize for this kind of link schemes.
So you must stop practicing the above ways to generate backlinks for your blog site.
The low Quality link crusher - Google Penguin
To detect low quality link Google introduce Penguin algorithm. In 2012, first time Google rolled out of Penguin.
The main goal of Google Penguin algorithm is to find out websites with low quality links. If it can detect sites that involve manipulative link building activities then it may penalize that site for link scheme.
Penguin is now at mature stage with lots of updates and its filter is now able to catch link spam more intelligent ways.
Most of the cases Google provide manual penalties after scrutinizing a website with low quality links.
But how do you know that your site has been hit with a manual penalty?
To know about manual link penalty simply check your site in Google Search Console. If your site got manual penalty then it will send you a notification.
There are also Penguin algorithm provides link penalty but they won’t send you any notification. To know about Penguin algorithm penalty visit Google analytics tool.
If your site got penalty then your organic site traffic will drop significantly.
However, both link penalties affect your organic traffic. If any site extremely involve in link scheme then Google may completely de-index the site.
How To Recover From a Link Penalty?
Most of the cases Google Penguin algorithm used to detect link scheme. And sometimes Google manually penalize for link scheming.
If your site has been affected with a link based penalty, then you will have to try to take out or disavow the low quality links to recovery. You can disavow links by using Google webmaster tools.
Previously after disavowing the low quality links from websites webmasters need to submit a reconsideration request to Google, and that was applicable for manual penalties.
But now Penguin operates on a rolling basis, you will no longer have to submit reconsideration request and wait for a refresh. After removing all low quality link profile your site will automatically recover as early as possible.
You can prevent PageRank from passing in several ways, such as:
- Remove all low quality links from your website
- Use no-follow URL with all links like
rel="nofollow"attribute to the tag
- After detecting penalty, with a robots.txt file redirect the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines.
- Start creating high-quality content.
- Add only relevant links to your content.
A relevant good content can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful and problem solving content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link back to it.
Wrap it Up
Finally we can say only genuine and unique content make your page rank higher. Some blogger think back link is the main factor for boosting page rank but this is totally wrong concept, because back-link has a partial effect to get higher page rank.
Many website owners also use re-direction feature to redirect their website from one website to another web or blog pages that is also a part of link scheme.
If you have created some fake site only for making links or redirect to your site that is also harmful for your site, Because Google easily can detect low quality and spam site.
If your site is blocked by search engine then its effect will be more dangerous for your site. You should start the process of finding and dealing with bad links as soon as you identify that your website has been penalized.
After recovery try to avoid engaging with all sorts of Link scheming.
There is also a misconception about PPC (pay-per-click) advertising links, which is most of the time don’t pass PageRank to the buyer or advertiser site and it does not violate Google webmaster guidelines.
Always concentrate on writing quality content that can engage your reader.
Remember that “Content is king” and only your quality content will help to get higher page rank for longer time.