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Building links the natural way is the first condition that you need to fulfill if you want to receive only legitimate links that conform to Google guidelines. Link building is the only way to expand outreach, build authority, and earn better ranks in search results which are the ultimate goal of SEO. There is nothing more important than link building for receiving targeted traffic to your website in an organic manner. Link building is one of the pillars of off-page SEO that has also proved to be the key to SEO success. Regardless of the strategy that you adopt in link building, you must ensure that you don’t have any unnatural links in your backlink repository. Too many unnatural or bad links in your inventory can make Google suspicious about your involvement in link building activity that attracts penalty.

It is therefore vital to have a clear idea about what are bad links so that you can identify them and remove them from your list. Additionally, you must understand the difference between bad links and poor links because all bad links are of poor quality, but not all poor quality links are bad. The reason for keeping away from bad links is that they can sink any SEO campaign. On the other hand, poor or weak links can do some minor damage in the worst case scenario. Although they don’t add value, they won’t harm your SEO efforts.


Features of Bad Links

Links obtained by unfair means that go against Google guidelines are indeed bad links. Links obtained from poor quality websites with low domain authority that publish thin and incoherent content that has no relevance to the link seeking website are also bad links. Google expects that links come from authoritative sites and there is a contextual connection between your website and the source.  Therefore, it is apparent that sticking to white hat link building is not enough and you must aim for gathering high-quality white hat back links.


Link Quality is the Key

Pay complete attention to the quality of links because you should avoid having poor quality links in your backlink inventory. Adopt a natural method of obtaining links without any monetizing intentions behind it so that it adheres to white hat SEO. You should also keep in mind that there has to be a shareable connection between the site that asks for a link and the site that offers it. There needs to be a common interest between these two sites so that both can benefit from working together.

Trying to cut corners by deviating from the recommended procedure of link building can have severe consequences as Google penalizes black hat SEO severely. Obtaining good quality links organically will enhance your website’s authority, and it will improve the position of your business. As a result, you will enjoy the benefits of SEO. Positive signals resulting from the organic link building process will give Google the confidence to improve the ranking of your website.


Are Commercial and Promotional Links Bad?

Sometimes, when people obtain promotional and commercially driven links, they are bad links.  The goal of link building is to do well in SEO and the purpose of SEO is to improve business returns and make the business grow. Therefore, there is a relation between links and business results or commerce. Unless links help to enhance the commercial prospects of websites, they don’t have any use in the business context. In a study conducted to understand linking behavior of web publishers, and to find the motivation for linking, it has become evident that the commercial reasons are at the top of the list.


User Perception About Links

To understand whether promotional and similar links with commercial intent are bad, you have to look at the way users perceive links. Most of us think that users consider links important for SEO only, but this is only partially true. There are many more reasons why users feel that links are valuable to them.  A study carried across America and Australia to understand the purpose behind linking with other websites, and what website owners think about links, has revealed some interesting facts that can change our understanding about the usefulness of links.

The SEO industry considers link context and relevance as the most important parameters to judge link quality, but according to the study, only 20% of web users agree with it.   Surprisingly, 33% of web users believe that links are useful for marketing and advertising and are essential for generating revenue. Only 11% of users thought that links are vital for access and convenience, and 9% respondents prefer to use links for sponsorship and building relationships. Interestingly, only 5% of users felt that links are important for enhancing traffic and improved SEO performance.


The Riddle of Link Evaluation

When evaluating link quality users often face a dilemma in determining whether it is good or bad. It happens despite knowing that they have followed organic link building methods. The confusion arises regarding the use of links for promotional purposes. One thing is obvious – you can’t use links for commercial promotions, and if you have links with commercial anchor texts embedded in it, be ready for Google penalty. Beware of links related to guest posts, sponsorship, and business partnerships.  In such situations, you need to know if you should treat them as bad links.


Promotional Links and Links Used for Promotion

It is critical to know how to distinguish promotional links and links used for the promotion of business. These two types of links are very different. Promotional links have different content than body link that makes it easily distinguishable. Usually, such links are what you see in banner ads, affiliates ads, etc., and very similar to advertising which is the reason why it is bad for link building purposes. It goes against the principles of organic link building. Even if they are free, it is not acceptable to Google, and it is even worse if you use it in exchange of reciprocal links.

On the other hand, there is no problem if you use any standard link for promoting content because you are engaging in fair exchange for mutual benefit without the intention of spinning money in the process. Therefore, using links for promotional purposes do not cause any harm.


Using Links for Promotional Purposes

It is critical to obtain natural links in an organic way first, and then use them for promotional purposes. The anchor text of the link has to be entirely natural, and it should reveal the context and background information to viewers. The information provided in the link should help viewers to foresee the topic. It is natural for websites that share some business relationship to share links that are promotional because they want to mutually benefit from content promotion or product promotion that drive more traffic to the websites. There is nothing wrong with the arrangement, hence acceptable to Google.

As long as commercially driven links have organic roots you have nothing to fear. Keep acquiring links from partner sites, sister concerns and affiliate sites without any concern, but ensure that the process is entirely organic.