Google has come down hard with its recent approach towards links. The Panda and Penguin updates were designed specifically to tackle the problem of spammy links and low quality sites with a high number of links endeavouring to con the search engine into higher rankings.

Then, Google instituted the NoFollow policy, and began to enforce it. NoFollow is an HTML attribute applied to a link which tells the search engines not to follow that particular link, or all those on that page, and no PageRank or ‘link juice’ is passed.

These policies and updates have made it difficult for anyone doing SEO to know when to link. Understandably, site owners are now more cautious about linking, with many erring on the side of caution. Under the Penguin update, even extremely well known brands were penalised for ‘shady’ linking policies, having been found to be linking to bad neighbourhoods and very low quality sites.

Peter Wilson, SEO expert at Belfast-based WSI Digital Web confirms, “Linking is now a matter of double checking that any links are high quality and to trustworthy or reputable sites only. This requires considerable research to protect SEO clients from the possible effects of a poor link, but quality linking is still what the Web is all about. Unpaid links with relevant anchor text will still boost any SEO campaign.”

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