How Low Quality Backlinks Add SEO Value to Your Website

Jan 27, 2015

In the rush to acquire backlinks that will improve your web page ranking in the search results, you need to remember that not all backlinks are created equal. Adding to the overall confusion about backlinks is the fact that the label “low quality” backlinks actually applies to two distinctly different types of links.

One type will get your website penalized in the search engine rankings, while the other can help drive more visitor traffic without risking a Google ranking penalty. To help cut through the confusion and misinformation, we’ll call the links that you want to avoid “bad” low quality links, and the ones you want to pursue “good” low quality links.

low quality links

What are Bad Low Quality Backlinks?
Prior to the release of the Penguin algorithm update in 2012, Google’s efforts against unnatural link practices were largely confined to removing ill-gotten link authority from websites that purchased links from link farms, applying penalties only to the actual link sellers. Penguin changed all that, and offending websites are now being penalized for a variety of linking sins including

  • Links from sites that have no relevance to your niche.
  • Links from sites than have extremely thin content.
  • Links from sites that contain duplicate content.
  • All paid links.

Links from guest blogging posts or blog comments that are automatically approved with little or no editorial oversight.

  • A link profile with little anchor text variety.
  • A link profile that shows a lack of diversity in link type or source.
  • Anything that creates an impression of “unnatural” link building activity. Google expects links to be “editorially earned.” This means that instead of buying links or getting a link just by asking for one, you should focus on creating relevant quality content that others will want to link to based solely on the editorial value of your material.

Defining Good Low Quality Backlinks
It’s important to remember that Google’s algorithm is designed to target websites with unnatural appearing link profiles. Having too many links of the same type or only links from high authority sites rarely occurs naturally, and is going to set your site up for a Google penalty. To create an effective link profile that will boost your search rankings while keeping your site off Google’s radar screen, you need a diverse portfolio of links from a variety of sources, including lower quality links.

A good low quality link is basically any unpaid link from a source that has lower authority rank value, which means that is has less ranking juice to pass through to your website. These lower quality links, as well as nofollow links, are still valuable because they increase your website visibility among people interested in your niche, and may lead to higher quality dofollow links as your content gets shared.

General Online Directories
While a few links from general online directories won’t provide much value to your overall search ranking, they will help give you a more diverse link profile. These low value links are usually free and relatively easy to obtain.

Reciprocal Links
These links are typically acquired in the normal course of doing business. A complementary business adds a link to your website in exchange for you linking to their site. Google expects this type of linking activity, and as long as you don’t go overboard with too many reciprocal links, you’ll be fine.

Niche-relevant Blogs Posts and Comments
While Google’s Matt Cutts has formally pronounced the death of guest blogging as a primary source of link building, an occasional post or comment on relevant blogs is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure that you add genuine value to the conversation with insightful comments. Comments such as “I really liked your article,” accompanied by your link adds nothing of value and is going to be treated as spam.