Following the latest Penguin update, there’s been a massive increase in webmasters asking for backlinks. That’s almost a complete reversal of the way things used to be.

In the past, many website owners were terrified of backlinks. They were concerned that the “wrong” types of links would end up getting their sites delisted.

Since that risk has been eliminated, people want backlinks again.

It’s fair to say, though, that history will repeat itself. Google will once again penalize sites that are using backlink spam as a way to improve rank.

Here’s what you need to know about building backlinks and the best way to boost your rank in the search results.

Meet the New Penguin

The new Penguin isn’t like the old Penguin.

In case you missed the news, Penguin 4.0 released last Fall. That’s the latest version of Google’s spam-busting algorithm.

Penguin exists to prevent blackhat SEOs from manipulating the search engine algorithms so that they can rank their sites. To date, it’s been pretty effective.

But something changed late last year with the 4.0 release. Google opted for a “devalue rather than decimate” policy.

Before that update, Google would penalize an entire site when it detected spammy backlinks pointing to the site. Now, Google simply devalues the backlinks.

That’s a difference with a huge distinction. Instead of issuing a penalty to a site for violating the Webmaster Guidelines, Google now just devalues the spammy links so that they effectively don’t count as links at all.

In other words, sites with backlink spam just don’t rank at all. So they don’t need to be formally penalized.

Happy Days Are Here Again?

The news about how Google treats backlink spam after the Penguin 4.0 release emboldened more than a few SEOs to opt for “caution to the wind” strategy. They now think that they can point countless backlinks to their sites because there’s no risk of a penalty.

The theory is that even if some backlinks are flagged as spam, they just won’t be worth anything. Meanwhile, the other backlinks will contribute link juice to the money site and boost it in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

What could go wrong?

A lot, actually.

Those Who Fail to Learn From History…

We’ve seen this movie before. SEOs think that they can, once and for all, outwit Google and practice shady techniques to rank their sites.

But Google always gets the last laugh.

If you’re under the impression that you can boost your site to Page 1 of the SERPs by building a huge backlink profile, you should really assess the risks first. That’s especially true if you don’t care where you put those backlinks or how relevant they are to the content on your site.

The anti-spam team at Google is always on the lookout for creative ways that people try to manipulate their search engine algorithm. If they catch on to what you’re doing, your site is bound to suffer.

Also, just because Google is currently opting for a kinder, gentler system of devaluing backlinks rather than penalizing sites, there’s no guarantee that it will always be that way.

The reality is that Google could smack your site with a penalty at some point in the future. When that happens, your brand will lose its search presence and, consequently, some of its value.

That’s why it’s best to avoid taking shortcuts when it comes to SEO.

So What’s the Answer?

If you’re sold on the idea of avoiding backlink schemes to boost rank, then you’re probably asking yourself: “Okay, so what can I do to hit Page 1?” Or even higher for that matter.

Produce some amazing, relevant, and informative content.

Remember: even after all these years, content is still king.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king” before. Rarely, however, does anyone take the time to define what that really means.

Content is king because the folks at Google are absolutely obsessed with customer service. When someone uses their software to find information on the web, they want the best and most relevant articles to appear at the top of the SERPs.

What they don’t want to display is a page that just manipulated the search algorithm to get some more clicks.

As a result, Google is always tweaking, testing, and tinkering with its software. The company is looking for the best way to ensure that only the right content appears at the top of the search results.

Artificial Intelligence

The future is now. Artificial intelligence (AI) is here.

Google uses AI as part of its search algorithm already. You can be sure that the search AI will only get smarter and smarter over time.

How does that affect SEO? Because the AI literally functions as a human brain. It’s a deep neural network of interconnected hardware and software.

Google’s deep learning technology can determine which type of content is most relevant to a particular search query. It will structure the search results accordingly.

Savvy SEOs will recognize that AI is the wave of the future in produce content that’s favorable Google’s neural network.

Give The People What They Want

So the solution to improved rank is simple: give people exactly the kind of content that they’re looking for when they search for a particular word or phrase.

Of course, there’s more to it than that.

Take a look at what already ranks for the query you have in mind and produce better, more compelling content. Some people call that “10x Content.”

Basically, you have to create your content so that it’s 10 times better than what anyone else is doing. That’s how you’ll earn favor with Google. That’s how you’ll rank and bank.

Wrapping It Up

In the past, SEOs focused on backlinks to boost rank. Nowadays, though, that’s a bit of a dangerous prospect. Instead of just focusing on link juice to give your site a bump in the SERPs, produce amazing, original content that’s relevant to what people are searching for.


  • Joseph Gourvenec

    What makes me laugh about back links is like anything too much of something is always bad for you in someway. Balance and moderation is essential but holding to the best qualities of SEO 1. good content, 2. Gain quality back links with relevancy, 3. Don’t try to gamble the house always wins.

    Do it right first time

    Joseph Gourvenec

    March 26, 2017 at 10:45 pm
  • Olle

    I believe relevancy is more important than ever when it comes to backlinks.

    March 27, 2017 at 7:18 am
  • Hoson

    Great article, John. By focusing on content, do you mean just the content on our website, or do you mean writing content for other websites like blogs, press releases, articles, etc?

    April 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm
  • Mike

    A couple of the competitors I have for an HVAC company in northwest Indiana use blackhat and have ranked for years. A couple are using blog networks, others have created multiple location pages & service pages with the exact same content. If you took a list of what you should ‘not’ do that’s what their marketers have done. There is nothing more frustrating than doing things the way google claims they want you to, yet get out ranked by those doing exactly what google says they don’t want you to do.

    April 11, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    When you designated other content writer or article in your blog post, comprise a text link to the indication you are referencing. Not only is it good posting manners, but you may also get fortunate and receive a link back. Classy links are a valued commodity for any site detecting to rank higher in search engine consequences.

    May 12, 2017 at 5:09 pm

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