First of all, assume that Google is God and knows everything you do, and the intent behind it. Google essentially wants to kill off artificial SEO, and with good reason. Artificial SEO has become a major industry, peopled by marketers and SEO promoters who clog the Internet every day with nonsense posts, poor-quality articles that are not written to journalistic standards and packed with keywords, websites and directories that are manufactured purely for the purpose of generating artificially placed links, and phony “private blog networks” that all send links to one another.
Those tactics worked for a while, but thankfully, Google is on to the people who promote these schemes, and with any luck, those sorts of promotions will die a quiet death. Nonetheless, today the marketplace is still full of “SEO specialists” who offer $99 specials, which result in thousands of those spammy links in articles that appear to have been written by an algorithm rather than a real journalist. The result of course, is a high inbound link count – but at the end of the day, that will no longer help you.
One single unlinked brand mention in an A-list publication, within the body of an article written to the highest journalistic standards, is worth more than a hundred spammy backlinks. The people offering the $99 SEO specials cannot get you those types of brand mentions.
Every since Google’s Panda update, link farms have taken a hit, and the “link juice” that the SEO promoters mislead you into thinking are relevant, has taken a back seat to something more meaningful, but more difficult to achieve. Back when SEO meant manufacturing as many inbound links as possible from any source available, content was meaningless, and the Internet quickly became a vast wasteland of nonsense and spam. The fact that the link was there was the end game in itself, and the context in which it was placed was never considered.
Since Panda, brand mentions – even with no link – and the legitimacy of the source are taken into account by the Google algorithm, and in fact, if your ratio of inbound links to unlinked brand mentions is too high (nearly every mention is a link), Google will rightly assume that you are artificially spamming the Internet, and you’ll take a hit.
Today’s best practice is moving SEO into the realm of real public relations. Less focus on generating inbound links, and more focus on getting legitimate brand mentions in real articles written by real journalists is what will do the trick.