Social engagement can be fraught with land mines. For instance, if I make a comment on a blog and share something about my business, doesn’t it make sense to include a link to my website and wouldn’t this be a good way to drive traffic? While this may sound completely reasonable, it is more complicated than you might think because this sort of activity can impact how your website is ranked by search engines.
A little history . . .
Link building is an important part of SEO because links can add to the credibility of your website. In years past SEO was a bit of a game in that it was possible to outsmart the search engines. When people realized that search engines favored links, they began to put them everywhere and they did so without discrimination. It was purely a numbers game and for a while it worked.
But, the primary goal of a search engine is to provide meaningful results when someone enters a query. The better job they do, the more likely it is that people will rely on them (providing a bigger audience for your advertising dollars) so they are constantly tweaking their algorithms to ensure a quality result. Allowing people to game the system is not in their best interest, so as their technology evolved they began to crack down on shady SEO practices and even penalize websites who used them.
Where are we now?
Link building is still a big part of SEO, but the focus has shifted to gaining links naturally through quality content and relationship building. Quality links from relevant and authoritative websites are still used to provide a strong signal to search engines that your website is worth considering for search results. The difference is that the links should be earned, not purchased or indiscriminately planted.
With respect to blog comments, adding links purely for the purposes of SEO is no longer recommended and could actually be harmful. Getting involved online through blog comments is still a good way to gain visibility for your brand, but you must be mindful with your execution of this practice. Focus your efforts on providing value through your blog comments and choose sites that are relevant to your target audience. If the situation is such that a link to your website is warranted go ahead and include it, but reserve that activity for when you feel it is truly meaningful and useful to the site’s readers.
Oops! What if I’m reading this too late?
So, maybe your knowledge was little dated. You have been merrily going along sprinkling links wherever you go and you’ve been wondering why you website rank has been dropping. Well, you have some clean up work ahead. Use a tool such as Ahrefs to identify links to your site and remove anything that might be causing a problem. This can be a laborious task, to be sure, but it is well worth your time.