Knowing what is acceptable and not acceptable in search engine algorithms is highly necessary to build a website domain authority. Building backlinks is the key to achieving high visibility in search engines.
Search engine rankings depend on having many quality links from other websites. A site with valuable links can be ranked higher than an otherwise equal one containing fewer inbound links.
Natural occurrences of inbound links are significant. The most utilized search engines have their perception of how to achieve a genuine link profile.
Below is a list of the top search engines’ views on link schemes.
Here’s what Google says about link building
In Google’s words about paid links
On the paid links page in Google’s documentation, they go on to state that quality is more important than quantity, and violating Google Webmaster Guidelines can impact website rankings in a bad way. On the contrary, Google states that not all paid links violate their guidelines, and buying and selling links is a “normal economy of the web when done for advertising purposes.”
Link Building SEO Agency Red Flag
If buying and selling links is to manipulate search results, Google is not cool with that. Google is OK with tagging the link anchor attribute to clearly display the link is for advertising purposes and adding the nofollow relationship attribute as a lack of endorsement.
In this case, Google is stating that the link has two relationships:
- nofollow relationship
- sponsored (paid) relationship
The paid link should also redirect to a page that is blocked in robots.txt file.
Google’s best practices on redirects
Redirecting a user to a different URL can be done with internal linking onsite and, in this case, inbound linking from webpages offsite.
When Google discusses sneaky redirects, they are stating that the content the user, and Googlebot, is directed to must be relevant to the anchor text and the destination page topic.
How Google views automatically generated content
When automatically generated content is used to manipulate search rankings, Google is not OK with it and Google can penalize, content and anchor text for unnatural linking, the source and linked webpage and or domain.
Automatically generated content offsite can indirectly affect on-page content and the entire domain.
Additional topics about Google’s link scheme and backlinking for what not-to-do
- Exchanging goods or services for links (this is especially a no-no in the law firm SEO link building niche)
- Requiring a link as part of service agreement
- Over-optimized content with multiple anchor text in the same sentence or paragraph that is obvious keyword spam
- Boilerplate footer and aside links built for SEO manipulation
- Nonsensical keyword spammed forum signatures
- Cloaking web page content for inbound users
- Doorway pages meant to rank for specific terms and send users to relevant section of site (I’ve always thought it was dumb to penalize this)
- Affiliate links that lead to thin content and do not specify the sponsored relationship with outbound anchor tag
Here’s what Bing says about link building
Google and Yandex are more alike than Bing and Google; please allow me to get that out of the way before diving into how Bing views links and link building. Bing content ranking algorithms are heavily weighted to the actual on-page content and not the inbound links as Google and Yandex are heavily invested in inbound link algorithms as a part of the core ranking algorithm; Google and Yandex are a lot alike, whereas Bing and Baidu are very similar.
Bing has overview content regarding five link-building topics on their Webmaster Tools page.
- Reciprocal linking
- Buying links
- Link Farms
- How to build links
- Quality vs. Quantity
Bing wants naturally built links to content that people find appealing and what to share it. The statement is “Bing prefers,” which is somewhat of a word-salad term and can be distorted, although not as severely as Google distorts their guidelines and policies regarding link building.
Bing briefly explains about links on Content Guidelines Webmaster Tools section
On this page, Bing explains how their Bingbot finds and crawls web pages. The list is relative to mostly onsite topics but does touch on offsite. Bing does not have detailed documentation as Google does.
Bing also states links are a signal of website popularity
Bing explicitly mentions the exact same sentiment as Google regarding how their algorithm calculates website popularity; it’s the inbound links.
Bing’s things to avoid for link building
After Bing explains how they rank content in numerous complex algorithms, they provide a substantial overview of Abuse and Examples of Things to Avoid.
Bing mentions many of the same topics related to link schemes
Here’s a list of topics related to offsite that Bing briefly mentions, and I stress the word “briefly”:
- Link schemes, buying, and spamming
- Social media schemes
- Duplicate content
- Scraped content
- Keyword stuffing
- Automatically generated content
- Affiliate programs
- Malicious behavior
- Irrelevant structured data (this is a huge no-no and penalties are severe)
Here’s what Yandex says about link building
Yandex has extensive documentation about link building and penalizing bad inbound links, rivaling documented articles from Google about inbound links and link building.
The Yandex Minusisnk algorithm
Yandex has a page about their Miusinsk algorithm for links and how it relates to their webmaster guidelines for indexing. This page is a general overview of creating sites, what links are, and how to deal with a penalty (Yandex restriction or violation of their policies).
Yandex signs of low-quality sites
According to Yandex, this page explains webmaster advice, in adequate detail, for what to do and what not to do when building a high-quality website.
Most of the content on the support page is either directly or indirectly relating to links and can be applied to some onsite topics.
- Five techniques to focus on
- 21 examples of why Yandex avoids indexing and awarding high rankings
- 11 examples of Yandex webmaster guidelines violations
Yandex violations and restrictions
Yandex support documentation provides descriptions of violations and the restriction (penalty) applied to web pages or whole domains.
According to the list of 21 examples and why Yandex will avoid indexing or award high rankings, here is the list of violations and penalty restrictions in two screenshots.
Due to the fact that the Yandex crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms (they are different, and here is an article from Barry Schwartz in 2018 explaining the difference between ranking and indexing; here is a recent article from Q1 2021).
Yandex has two possible restrictions it places on websites that violate guidelines set forth in the Minusinsk algorithm.
- Excluding site pages from search
- Demoting in search results
Yandex provides a plethora of support articles related to inbound links
In the left navigation sidebar of the webmaster support section of Yandex Webmaster Tools, there are many pages related to useless content spam and excessive advertising, SEO links for promotion, SEO links to and from site pages, doorway pages, affiliate program links, and cloaking. This is not an exhaustive list and it’s best to click around the support site to read all the documentation related to linking.
Most of the informative articles are in the Violations section of the navigation.