Link Building | Google Guidelines 2020

What is link building? Why Natural Back-links Are Crucial For SEO

Published Under: SEO | Beginner guide
Last Updated: December 22, 2019
Tweet Share

Link building is a very risky strategy. You can easily burn your hands if you do not understand what you are doing. On the other hand, learned decisions, planning and earning links, always keeping in mind E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) and other Google guidelines can help your content with PageRank and then stay on top of search results for a much longer period

Asad Butt

Link building is the process of earning inbound links on alternative websites. Link building could be categorized into two main types. Natural and Unnatural link building

Un-Natural link building

is a practice of acquiring inbound links for page or resource online without having a good cause or a reason. It is equivalent to directing someone in the wrong direction when they ask for help.

It is a kind of spreading misinformation.

Unnatural link building is risky and unproductive in the long run. Why is that? It is because by engaging in this practice we are up against Search Engine algorithms and their anti-spam teams who are working hard, round the clock to shot down and weed out un-natural links and this could also result in penalization of websites applying these tactics.

Natural link building

Natural link building, on the other hand, is winning a link towards a webpage or resource online for the quality of the content with better information or knowledge.

Natural link building is an effective, constructive and a productive approach. It revolves around creating meaningful and useful content which could earn links on merit.

Natural link building is considered time-consuming which is not true. In fact, if you consider the time we have to constantly spend to rebuild links for the ones we lose due to Search engine algorithm updates and penalization, it becomes evident that natural link building is far less time-consuming in the long run.

Natural link building directly improves the reputation of a webpage and helps it rank with search engines. Most import of all. It gives you peace of mind.

Natural links are safe and evergreen.

Google has evolved and improved its arsenal and removes lots of links to a webpage if it considers them as low-quality or manipulation of the system.

Links will always be important at least for the foreseeable future.

Having said that, a backlink is basically a claim that a certain webpage is relevant and helpful. While analyzing any link pointing to a webpage, Google is looking for a few things

  • Authority on the subject matter
  • Quality of the content
  • Trust that backlinking webpage has itself

Google and all Search Engines have the right reason to honor high-quality and trustworthy backlinks and punish low-quality links and take any necessary action. If google doesn't do that, Google itself will lose customers and another Search Engine will soon take over.

Before we even start working on a link building campaign, we should thus focus on improving the quality of the site itself we want people to know about. You can only go a little far with selling a product which is fruitless in the real world.

This stands the same for websites as well.

How to Audit a website for issues?

There are many tools in the market you can use to check your website for basic SEO problems.

Tools like

provide a great insight into the health of your website and give you a general idea of where it stands.

For those with non-technical backgrounds or those with no time for SEO because of other commitments, quoraceative provides two types of services which are fair priced and well tested and can help you optimize your site.

How To Build Evergreen inbound Links?

Embedded content:

There are plenty of ways to build links. Whichever you follow, always keep in mind one thing. Are you violating Google Quality guidelines? If you are not you are good to go.

Otherwise do not waste your time or listen to someone who advises so. A very useful list compiled by Google, very well explains that:

What are Link schemes ?

Link building is an integral part of Off-site SEO. It is tricky and if done wrong, could turn into a disaster. If done right it could provide a huge reward in terms of both PageRank and web traffic for your website. Many individuals and companies outright believe link building is against Google guidelines. This is not the case. Google considers genuine link-building a good thing.

Not all link building is taken as webspam. Link building was and will be a very important aspect of Search Engine Optimization.

In the real world, "Word of mouth" makes or breaks brands. People look towards recommendations all the time when making daily buying decisions. Google understands that as well. But "Word of mouth" has its value depending on how trustworthy a person is. Same is the case with Links. To wrap up: High-quality links will always be valuable to a website.

Mark Schnieder from Google explains if there is such a thing as building too many links? Embedded content:

Content marketing was and will be the most genuine link building strategy for the foreseeable future. If Google drops considering good content and links it points to its whole model collapses. Consider an example: For a bank loan or mortgage, banks follow a good design and testing process. Can bank bypass investment or loan managers. What else can they rely on? Sure credit history is a major factor in decision making but for smaller loans or credit cards. Can banks ever give a mortgage without their mortgage manager looking into every detail of your finances?

Same is the case with links from authoritative and trustworthy websites. You as a business can employ someone to build links to your site but content marketing is by far the best approach. Your content becomes your credit score by the number of websites naturally linking to it.

We should try to focus solely on using content marketing strategies and try to create and distribute our content through different channels. It is a slow process but it is the right one.

Content marketing is more simple than you think. If you follow these simple steps for content creation and be persistent, you will see permanent positive results in mid to long term.

What are the steps to create good content?

  • Always select a relevant topic and a subject you know very well about.
  • Divide and rule: Figure out subtopics and write about them.
  • Provide citations, links and references.
  • Make sure your advice is relevant to the current times.
  • Publish on a website, feed aggregators and websites you are allowed as a contributor.
  • Utilize fully all social media accounts to promote an article (at least 5) and that’s basically it.

It is as simple as that but the key is in two points:

  1. Right topic selection, subselection and expertise on the topic.
  2. Persistence and frequency

If you are a beginner, you might find it hard to focus a bit on researching relevant material and phrasing it properly. But when you have written 10 good pieces of content, it will become easier and easier.

With the passage of time, you will learn that a good piece of content will give you a sense of achievement. Every link you will discover towards your content will boost your self-confidence. On top of that, every new link will give you a feel of a free lunch.

Every request I get from an author to consider their work, review and provide feedback and possibly mention their work in mine, gives me a head up. It's building connections and goodwill online. It always pays back.

New links pointing to your content, without you putting any effort further is what you want. There is one thing to remember though. You will need to update your content with up to date information and advice which should not be difficult if you know what you are doing.

The last thing: use content creation, content marketing and content promotion together and you will have the best results.

What is E-A-T in SEO and why is it important?

In Search Engine Optimization terms, E-A-T stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.”

Quote: “Looks good. I'd add awards, if possible. I'd also want to make sure that the authors have external signals that demonstrate E-A-T as well. Are they quoted in authoritative places? Does the world generally recognize them as experts? Not always possible, but can be built over time."
- Tweet This

@Marie_Haynes via twitter

It is most important and you should always focus on E-A-T in mind when developing webpage or website or writing content.

“Expertise” – You need to be an expert about what you are writing. You need to demonstrate appropriate credentials like a college degree, job experience, voluntary experience and professional associations). You also need to mention it in your content. Normally at the start or at the very end of the content. Expertise is vital for medical, financial, or legal or professional websites.

“Authority” – You are considered an authority if your biography humanizes your brand and promotes transparency with your readers. A simple way to get this from the expertise of your writers. You can also get this from forum discussions as the quality of the conversation drives authority. Review, discussions and mentions all account to good authority.

“Trust” – Everything about your site should make users feel safe while they’re visiting. Simply put, your content should educate your users something on a topic that you are relating to. Your content should serve some purpose and it should well relate to your brand as a whole. Writing about baking a cake won't help on a web design website.

Always make sure that the trust element is present when you ask:

  • To share information about a topic.
  • To share personal or social information.
  • To share pictures, videos or other forms of media.
  • To express an opinion or point of view.
  • To sell products or services.
  • To allow users to post questions for other users to answer.
  • To allow users to share files or to download software.

Quote: We’ve known for a few years that Google will give different weights for links based upon segments of a page where a link is located. It’s quite likely that something like this might continue to be used today, but it might have been modified in some manner, such as limiting in some way the amount of value a link might pass along if, for instance, it appears in the footers on multiple pages of a site.
- Tweet This

by Bill Slawski

What is Personalized PageRank Scoring?

Quote: I is determining personalized page scores for web pages based upon links pointing to pages that appear for specific queries in search results and whether the anchor text in those links is related to those query terms. Google might use a different approach, such as one that may look at large amounts of data about searchers, pages, and queries to calculate a personalized page score for pages.
- Tweet This

Bill Slawski

Some sites may be deemed to be related, or affiliated, to others in some manner, such as being owned by the same person or company. The value of those links might be diminished because of that relationship, in comparison to other “editorially determined links.”
- Tweet This

Bill Slawski

How do you define a Natural or Unnatural Link?

A few definitions:

  • A natural link is the one that you had no part in creating.
  • An Unnatural link is a link that you put into place yourself or put an effort to.
  • An Unnatural link is a link you acquire in return for any benefit whatsoever.
  • A natural link is a link which is created without you even knowing.
  • The “naturalness” of a link can be seen as an editorial choice.
  • A natural link is one that occurs organically (not easily seen as being placed by your company).
  • If a link is manipulative – it is spam – Googleplex.

Embedded content:

Quote: "Focusing on quality over quantity is what can help to protect your site as Google updates. More importantly, focusing on quality can help constantly bring in relevant readers through referring sites who may also become customers, engaged readers, and a new source of backlinks and social media traffic."
- Tweet This

Please read What is a Natural Link? (A Good Backlink) | Adam Riemer

Google is smart. It's getting smarter day by day.

One way Google gauges your link value is by analyzing the webpage your link is coming from.

The source webpage should be relevant to the material it is pointing to.

A webpage about a recipe linking to a webpage explaining Search Engine Optimization does not make sense. It's same as you do not see chefs talking about a Search Engine Optimization products in their cooking episodes or competitions.

While analyzing Links, There are patterns that Google can track.

Natural links have a pattern.

They come from relevant websites. Any attempt to defraud Google can backfire at any time. Google can track and discard and in severe cases penalize websites having backlinks which violate the correct patterns.

Remember, If the content is worth linking, It will be linked.

__Quote:__The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.
- Tweet This

Create unique, relevant content - Google

In plain English: It is as simple as that.

When you write a unique, informative and helpful piece of content, it will attract readers and they would like to link to it. More people linking to it will increase your Pagerank. Better PageRank means better impressions, position in searches and better Click-through rate (CTR). Which means more readers and more backlinks.

It is as simple as that.

That is why I say: "Original content is evergreen"

__Quote:__Some webmasters use content is taken (“scraped”) from other, more reputable sites on the assumption that increasing the volume of pages on their site is a good long-term strategy regardless of the relevance or uniqueness of that content. Purely scraped content, even from high-quality sources, may not provide any added value to your users without additional useful services or content provided by your site; it may also constitute copyright infringement in some cases. It's worthwhile to take the time to create original content that sets your site apart. This will keep your visitors coming back and will provide more useful results for users searching on Google.
- Tweet This

Google - Original content guidelines

Is there a thing as Negetive SEO ?

Quote: “First and foremost, we recommend that you remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you.” Disavowing backlinks by Google
- Tweet This

Simple answer is yes.

First, What is Negative SEO?

It is a practice by someone somewhere, in competition with you, creating a pile of backlinks towards your website, which Google would consider as spam and ultimately result in dropped traffic and or penalization. “Negative SEO” definition could be widened to include other possible practices such as content scraping, bandwidth Spam.

Content Scraping

Scraping content is a way of making a copy of your content and publishing it on multiple websites. It can create issues with search results at Google will notice it being published at different places. Read Scraped content Guidelines by Google.

Quote: "Purely scraped content, even from high-quality sources, may not provide any added value to your users without additional useful services or content provided by your site; it may also constitute copyright infringement in some cases" - Google
- Tweet This

Consider this scenario: Someone who has ill intentions can keep an eye on new content published on your website. As soon as it is published, they scrap it, publish it and submit it to the Google Index.

Normally, Google uses the indexed date to determine who published the content first. This will make your website appear to be a copier of another publisher. Who is going to get the penalty?

What is Bandwidth Spam? Does this happen a lot?

The risk of negative SEO has reduced as of 2018 but it is still something you need to keep an eye on, just in case. Google doesn’t consider negative SEO to be a huge problem for atleast since 2016. 2016 algorithm update brought in very sophisticated measure to tackle this and it works.

Another reason is Google has given us a fantastic tool we can use to fight Negative SEO. The Google Disavow Links tool, allows you to upload a list of backlinks that you don’t want and Google will simply sort it out for you.

Note: Google recommends that you take some steps first yourself. Bringing links off index may have negative consequences for website owners who are genuine. Try to reach out to the site owner and politely ask them to remove links. Report the site to a webmaster only if necessary. The disavow tool should be used as a last resort. Do your research properly as there is a chance of losing good links if you are not careful.

Quote:"The topic of negative SEO really is a tough one to understand. On one hand Google says, "Don't worry about it." But, on the other hand they tell us that although it shouldn't be a problem, it's not a bad idea to disavow any spam links you find pointing to your site even if you didn't make them."
- Tweet This

Negative SEO: Should You Be Worried? If Attacked, What Should You Do? @Marie Haynes

Quote: "Today’s negative SEO efforts now look almost indistinguishable from genuine backlink building efforts a few years ago – but that’s the point – negative SEO efforts want to make it look like YOU built the links yourself – when they submit your site to Google next month to get you penalised for a year."
- Tweet This

By Shaun Anderson

Quote:"Building the types of links that help grow your online business and organic search traffic iOriginal and unique contents getting harder. It used to be fairly straightforward, back before Google worked out how to treat links with different levels of quality and trust. However, the fact that it's getting harder doesn't mean that it's dead."
- Tweet This

By Paddy Moogan

Google is always learning

Links have always been and always will be an important ranking factor. Google is always looking for more factors and signals as it is learning and evolving all the time.

Like thousands of other patents, Google was granted a patent to monitor what’s on TV in your area, and look for queries that might be related to that information.

Google Granted Patent on Using What You Watch on TV as a Ranking Signal

So Google is always learning and finding new factors to improve Pagerank.

Of course, Google will evolve and look at links and the factors connected to them differently in the future but their aren't any signs of links going away soon, at least not in the near future.

Google is working hard to separate noise from signal

Google didn't understand links and web pages very well to start with. There was a time when well-managed keywords and Keywords Density, Title and Description tags were all you needed to bring anything in top Search results. Google took a long time to sort of "separate noise from signal" and still it's not there yet. And what about signal overflow? and choosing the correct signals from hundreds of them. What about fake signals (not noise)? What about fake signals from the trusted source.

Google is still in the process of separating signals from noise and both noise and signals links still constitute a major part of that information spectrum.

Content quality is the preferred approach by Google

Earning and keeping a variety of high-quality links is still a very important factor for free organic traffic to your website. On the safe side, Google Quality Updates seem to focus heavily on CONTENT QUALITY and a shift in Google's approach doesn't happen very often.

We can safely assume that, for at least immediate future, links are going to stay and link building (Natural and Genuine) has a lot of life left in them.

Quote: “Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.” Google
- Tweet This

What about Low-Quality Links? Avoid, Avoid, Avoid!

Most cheap link building services are useless or even harmful. Money spent on getting Low-Quality Links is just flushed down the drain.

No other way to explain it.

Better donate all that money to a charity and become an official sponsor or something similar.

You will get a trustworthy link, positive reputation, a very "good read" post on your own website, connections and recommendation.

On top of that money will go to some good cause as well.

Don't waste it on black-hat link building tactics.

Beware buying any 'cheap', ‘affordable’ linkbuilding service.

Always remember following:

  • Don’t be tempted by “too good to be true” Linkbuilding offers.
  • There is nothing as devasting as a Manual Action Penalty

Does Google take manual action on webspam?

Embedded content:

Seo best practices 2018

Fist of all, Google

"If there is a link selling site and they get caught for selling links, and they just happen to be linking to you, the value of that link that the site was providing, it just goes away." By Matt Cutts
- Tweet This

I wouldn't worry about going ahead and disavowing links even if you don't have a message in your Webmaster console." By Matt Cutts
- Tweet This

"I am all for having eggs in lots of different baskets. Because if your websites goes down, then you could always have a brick and mortar business. If your ranking on Google is not as good, then you could have other channels that you can use from print media advertising to billboards to Twitter to Facebook. You should always have a well-rounded portfolio of ways to get leads, whether it be people walking through your door or Yellow Pages or whatever it is. Because you can't count on any one channel always working out perfectly." By Matt Cutts
- Tweet This

“Chances are, there are a number of sites that cover topic areas similar to yours. Opening up communication with these sites is usually beneficial. Hot topics in your niche or community could spark additional ideas for content or building a good community resource.”
- Tweet This

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide @Google

Following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:

What are link schemes | Google

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site.

High-quality content advice by Yahoo

  • Original and unique content of genuine value.
  • Pages designed primarily for people, where search engine considerations are a secondary concern.
  • Hyperlinks intended to help people find interesting, related content.
  • Metadata (including title and description) that accurately describes the contents of a webpage.

Low-quality content advice by Yahoo

  • Content that harms the accuracy, diversity, or relevance of search results.
  • Pages using methods to artificially inflate search engine ranking.
  • Multiple websites or webpages offering substantially the same content.
  • Webpages produced in great quantities, which have been automatically generated or which are of little value (cookie-cutter pages).
  • Misuse of competitor names.
  • Webpages that seem deceptive, fraudulent, or provide a poor user experience.

Content quality guidelines @Yahoo

This is what Bing has to say:

About content

"Content is what Bing seeks. By providing clear, deep, easy to find content on your website, we are more likely to index and show your content in search results. Websites that are thin on content, showing mostly ads or affiliate links, or that otherwise redirect visitors away to other sites quickly tend not to rank well. Your content should be easy to navigate, rich and engaging to the visitor, and provide them the information they seek. In many cases, content produced today will still be relevant years from now. In some cases, however, content produced today will go out of date quickly."
- Tweet This

About Links

"Links pointing to your site help Bing discover new pages on your site. It also, traditionally, is regarded as a signal of popularity. The site linking to your content is essentially telling Bing they trust your content. As a result, Bing rewards links that have grown organically, that is, that have been added over time by content creators on other trusted, relevant websites made to drive real users from their site to your site. Abusive tactics that aim to inflate the number and nature of inbound links such as links buying, participating in link schemes (link farms, link spamming and excessive link manipulation) can lead to your site being delisted from the Bing index."
- Tweet This

"While link schemes may succeed in increasing the number of links pointing to your website, they will fail to bring quality links to your site, netting no positive gains. In fact, manipulating inbound links to artificially inflate the number of links pointed at a website can even lead to your site being delisted from our index."
- Tweet This

Webmaster Guidelines @ Bing

Earn links that produce results. Create content that wins traffic

Meet The Author

Asad Butt

Asad Likes anything creative, but mainly, developing web-applications, optmizing websites for search engine algorithms and writing about all stuff creative.

He could be reached at LinkedIn or Twitter. He is also an active contributor at

Learn more about Asad Butt


Learn More

Explore the topics further: SEO, Beginner guide

Disclaimer: Whilst we have made every effort to ensure that the information we have provided is accurate, it is not and advice. We cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions. Visit third party sites at your own risk. This article does not constitute legal advice