Content marketing is a great opportunity to gain additional exposure to your brand such as publishing content on other websites in order to gain visibility with that website’s audience. That content will, more frequently than not, contain backlinks to your own website. If handled improperly, these links can actually harm your website’s search engine optimization.
But how do links affect SEO to begin with? Search engines, such as Google, are able to see all the links that point to your website and can categorize them into two basic groups – natural links and unnatural links – and use this information as part of their algorithm to decide how your site should rank. Links can be seen as “votes of confidence” from other websites that your site has value. The more votes, the more value, the better visibility your site may attain in search.
- Accruing natural backlinks from a variety of relevant websites to your own is a cornerstone of organic search engine optimization.
- Accruing backlinks seen as unnatural can harm a site’s search performance. Think of unnatural links as trying to rig or buy off an election.
Unnatural links fall into several categories, though one of the most common is paid links, and can generally be defined as links that would otherwise not be published on a site if some form of compensation was not provided. Google has and will severely penalize websites caught buying and/or selling links!
Since content marketing generally involves paying a website to publish content, any links contained in that content would be considered paid links. In order to avoid being penalized by these links, you only need to remember one word: NOFOLLOW.
NOFOLLOW is a tag that is placed on the links in your marketing content in the HTML code of the page. This tag is a signal to search engines that says the link should not be counted as a “vote” toward your site’s SEO performance. This tag is for search engines only and will not affect the link’s functionality in any other way; users who click the link are still taken directly to your website.
When engaging with a marketing company or if you plan to conduct content marketing with a site directly, always ask and make sure that NOFOLLOW tags will be applied to the links in your content! This will protect both your site and the content publishing site when it comes to search engine optimization.
Ryan Miller is the SEO Manager for Advance Digital, affiliated with NJ.com. He has been immersed in the online industry since 2001. He can be followed on Twitter @cromiller. For more information about marketing solutions with NJ.com visit marketingresource.nj.com