Just this Monday in our community time out discussion, I related a story of how a site owner contacted me asking to remove all links pointing to his site from my blog!
At first I was surprised why he wanted those links removed since we all do love backlinks – at least they are good for our search rankings or are they no more important!
However, I knew somehow that something must be wrong on his end, possibly Google’s wrath must have fallen on the site. And true to my presumption, when he later replied it was just as I thought.
RECOMMENDED: 5 Blog Commenting Mistakes to Avoid!
But then, his reply raised some questions in my heart but since I was more concerned with helping this person, I went on to remove the links and left it at that.
The Question of Building Backlinks with Blog Comments Revisited
But then, I saw a Comment by Harleena, who said,
“When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting? Personally, I doubt this could be the case, as then people will avoid commenting on each other’s blogs or sites, and the web would lose its meaning.
I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?”
This is in response to what the site owner said in his email (Harleena that was not said by me!). Here again is the graphic:
Harleena’s question moved me to again consider this issue of building back-links with blog commenting as a strategy. Please note the issues in that question,
>>> When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting?
>>> I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?
I’m sure this is also a concern to you, right?
To me it was, at first, but a second look at the site concerned and Google’s demands, I discovered that this is not a problem for blogs and sites with good and valuable content!
This is made clear from Google's Panda and Penguin Updates, which this site had, ran afoul of. (I wrote a detailed article comparing Google's Panda and Penguin Update sometime ago. You are advised to read for better understanding of this issue.)
In this post I will simply highlight the possible areas our dear friend has violated Google's terms which warranted the sledge hammer from Google!
1. Low-Value Add For Users:
When Google announced the Panda Update in early 2011, Google stated:
“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”
This is one area which the site in question violated. The site in question is an e-commerce site, featuring only product information without enough user-centric content. From all indication there were no in-depth reports and content containing thoughtful analysis!
These were clear signals to Google that the site is of low-value to users and so, the hammer fell!
2. Aggressive Use Of Exact-Match Anchor Text In Backlinks
This is the biggest culprit!
While removing those offensive backlinks I discovered that all the anchor text were the same! Not only that, all were the site's primary keyword phrase which are also in the domain name!
Hey, big red flag 🙂
Yes, that was a big signal for Google.
Here again is what Google said about this in the Pengiun Update:
“Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.”
And this is what I said while writing on the Google Panda and Penguin Updates ,
“Backlinks is one big factor used by search engines to rank sites. It is quite clear that many SEO service providers now use automated link building software to generate backlinks using specific anchor texts. The simple way for the Google Penguin to pick these out is to look for a high volume of exact-match anchor text in your backlinks and your site will be flagged as engaging in webspam.”
Can you see why that site was blacklisted?
One, it lacked in-depth reports and thoughtful analysis and now it has hundreds of backlinks from my site (I’m sure the SEO provider who was using this tactic for the client must have also used hundreds of the same exact anchor text on other blogs) using the same exact anchor text in those links!
Phew, another red flag, and so…
Sorry, but here's your RED CARD! 🙂
Now to Harleena's questions, again:
1. When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting?
Ans. As we have seen above, it depends on the site involved. If it's a site with low value-add for users, simply building links with blog commenting can be dangerous.
2. I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?
Ans. No! Your site is a blog with good valuable content. You have content that are insightful and in-depth in analyzing the subjects treated. Google actually love this and so rather than punish you for those backlinks, Google will love you for that!
Another Good Point For Blogs Using Blog Commenting For Backlinks
Apart from the points above, I have also discovered that this problem will not easily affect blogs for the fact that most blogs use the CommentLuv plugin which allows blogs to deep link to individual pages. E-commerce sites using blog commenting on the other hand can only link to their home pages in the “Name” section of the comments.
With different anchor text linked using CommentLuv, blogs can actually benefit with blog commenting for building back-links. Good points to CommentLuv!
E-commerce sites should find ways of adding more quality and high-value content for a better user experience. They can do this by adding a blog to the site. Besides, they should also use different anchor texts based on their target keyword phrases for backlinks. Where possible, using synonyms would be a wise step in the right direction.
Remember, Google's Panda and Penguin are still watching!
[Before I draw the curtain let me say, thank you to Harleena for inspiring this post!]
Over to You: What lessons did you pick up from this post? Do you have any other possible reasons why that site was penalized for building back links with blog commenting? Please share your views in your comments.