Ezine Articles and press releases have long been utilized by SEO professionals for building backlinks. In late July 2013, news broke that links should be no followed in press releases. Right around this same time, Google also mentioned that if you are guest blogging for links this could be a violation of their guidelines.

Apparently, the Google folks meant what they said. Now, Google has supplied example backlinks from Ezine Articles and a press release in Webmaster Tools. These are examples of links which Google felt were against its quality guidelines. You can see this notification below.

Ezine Articles and Press Releases Bad Link Example

Ezine Articles and Press Releases Bad Link Example

As you can see, there is a link pointing at the website from Ezine Articles. This link was created in early 2012. There is also a link listed that came from a press release which was picked up on a very poor news website. Both the press release and the article have anchor text for keywords.

This is the first time I have seen a press release or Ezine Article being listed as a bad backlink. I know a large percentage of websites online have links from these sources or similar sources, but I highly doubt everyone will get a bad link notification. It does appear, for some reason or another, that Google is giving this individual website a hard time.

I must admit, this situation frustrates me a little. We generally like to do press releases on new products and things relating to a company’s website, and, when it makes sense, we link to the site. In light of this new development, we have become more particular about how we link to websites. Furthermore, I love Ezine Articles. I have plenty of articles on there and I am sure many of the readers of this site do too.

I am sure many SEO professionals are wondering, “Where do we draw the line? Can we link to products with their name? Can we link to categories with a general name of the products we sell in them? Can we link to anything in any way?” :)

We all know that non-branded exact anchor text has been a red flag for some time. Make sure you stay away from that and read your Google quality guidelines daily, because Google is becoming more stringent.

What are your thoughts on this? Should these be bad links?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central | Link Building | Link Building: General

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About The Author: is Founder and President of SEO and Social Media at Ignite Visibility, a premier Internet marketing company based in San Diego, CA. You can follow John on Twitter at: @johnelincoln.

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  • neotrope

    Howdy! Good update. As you may recall from all of my input on this issue back at end of July, I personally am in favor of these somewhat draconian changes by Google as it forces people to again revisit original, compelling content, and not litter the web with snippets, excerpts, junk press releases, etc. AND most importantly it kicks right in the (insert body part) the crap “post your article for free” sites used for junk content marketing AND effectively quashes all the “post 100 press releases a month for $50″ websites that have popped up in recent years. (One example I showed to a client was Narconon posting 42 releases in one week! How can that be good for search?) Our newswire site has been online 13+ years now (and I’ll leave the name out as I’m not self promoting here), and personally with all these changes it’s awesome that our main site has seen a 5x increase in traffic again as of mid August due to these “fixes” from Google. Our news items had dropped to maybe 300 unique views per item in the first 24 hours, now it’s back up to 600-1200, and while that may not seem huge, it is great for a modern press release not built around click-bating or SEO spamming. So, let me just say: BRAVO Google. Something needed to be done. So far, so good. :-)

  • John E Lincoln

    Wow that is a crazy example! 42 releases in one week literally blows my mind… I can’t say that I disagree with your points here. Thanks for interesting and great insight.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    “…a large percentage of websites online have links from these sources…”

    Doubtful. Highly doubtful.

  • http://www.dpom.co.uk/ Brett Dixon

    Yeah they absolutely should be classed as bad links. I’m sure the powers at be at Google must be thinking:

    We write in the Webmaster Guidelines that the best way to get links is to write compelling content and earn links naturally.

    We penalise sites that don’t do this and try and game the system by manipulating Page Rank.

    We peanlise some more.

    We make lots of videos to explain why, we make public examples of some of the largest companies in the world and show the world no one is safe.

    We penalise some more.

    YET WEBMASTERS AND SEOS STILL DON’T GET IT!

    I know link building works and you can build “natural looking” links yada yada yada but it isn’t actually natural. The problem is, SEOs are focusing on minute details and individual facets of search algorithms – perhaps this is why Google took away our keyword data – to stop us obsessing and make us think about the bigger picture instead.

    So in a nutshell, ANY link is a bad link if it didn’t occur naturally as an “editorial vote”. The quicker SEOs get this, the quicker they can all stop worrying about penalties and analyzing algorithms in microscopic detail.

  • http://www.dpom.co.uk/ Brett Dixon

    ^^ YES, YES and YES!

  • John E Lincoln

    Great feedback. Seems like a pretty overwhelming vote for, they should be bad links! So if they didn’t have exact anchor text, would they still be bad links? Or would that be OK? Interested to hear everyone’s opinion on this.

  • http://www.dpom.co.uk/ Brett Dixon

    It’s the fact they are unnatural and only there to pass Page Rank that makes them bad links.

  • John E Lincoln

    I would agree with that. But also feel that links have value outside of Google. We should be able to put links in things to help users navigate better.

  • Andrew Perez

    This makes absolutely no sense.. There are very good established writers
    within ezine.. The review process that each article goes through is
    very extensive, thus they have a strong emphasis on quality.. Why is it
    wrong for an entrepreneur to market his site or business by writing a
    great quality article and posting it to Ezine for traffic? It’s just one
    of many ways people choose to market their business..

    Why would
    Google penalize you for earning a quality legitimate link?? While I get
    all this “natural linking” talk, natural links are still earned links,
    just like ezine. A site is making the choice to link to your site based
    on the content you’re providing.. Whether they stumbled upon it by
    chance, or you’re providing it to them, the principals are sill the
    same..Ezine has just as much of a right to not link to your site as any
    other site does.. I still have sites that are ranking great with plenty
    of links from ezine.. I think this might be a mistake..

  • Michael Razeghi

    Yup, I’ve had an Ezine article popup in bad link examples as well.

  • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

    Yes! Yes! Thank you!

  • Manu

    Then, Which is the right way to build natural back links? expect your informative opinoin…

  • Dustin Williams

    I agree that this can be very frustrating to those of use who are using these sites for what they were intended to be used for. If Google is picking links from Ezine Articles as being against their guidelines then wouldn’t links from articles like this one also be against their guidelines? I don’t see how Google can label one as bad and not another if both are from unique content that offers value to a reader.

  • http://www.dpom.co.uk/ Brett Dixon

    You don’t build natural links. .You earn them. It explains this in the webmaster guidelines. Make your site worth linking too and make sure the links to your site are given by choice hence natural.

  • http://www.hiswebmarketing.com/ Marie Haynes

    I feel like I am missing something here. Of course these links are unnatural! They are self made links with the sole intention of gaining pagerank. They’re not earned. They’re not editorially placed.

  • http://www.hiswebmarketing.com/ Marie Haynes

    That is a great question. In my audits I have flagged links from sources like this as unnatural even if they didn’t contain anchor text. However, every single example unnatural link I get is one that contains anchor text so it’s possible they are only flagging those.

  • http://www.webmaxformance.com/ Igor Mateski

    well, I’m glad that link spammers get hit. For these 7 years that I’m in Online Marketing, it never made actual sense why anyone would like to spend time to write a meaningful article and then just give it up to some other website… or PAY for a site to publish it.
    Google is pushing authorship and library sciences into their algo. Those that have ears, let them hear.
    Soon enough, perhaps, only the big companies will be able to afford search traffic. The rest of us will have to buy it from Google. And maybe that’s Google’s bottom line, to make people use PPC instead of SEO. Not everybody will be able to develop great content, and not everybody can make a ROI case for investing in content.
    Just this past week I was reviewing a site I’m doing Content Marketing for. For a reason that is beyond me, the owners decided to hire another SEO company that will do SEO on this same site. That happened 4 months ago. Now they have tons of links from various directories, and their traffic has dropped by 50%. That’s what cheap SEO does. But sometimes, clients deserve that kind of results because they approach online marketing in extremely simple way of “I want my phone to ring, I want people that call to be from the website!”

  • John E Lincoln

    I think you should be able to link to anything you want however you want and should not have to worry about Google. Links have value to direct users to where they need to go.

  • http://www.hiswebmarketing.com/ Marie Haynes

    “The review process that each article goes through is very extensive” – Really? Look at this: https://www.google.ca/search?num=100&site=&source=hp&q=site%3Aezinearticles.com+payday+loans&oq=site%3Aezinearticles.com+payday+loans&gs_l=hp.12…1944.7470.0.9579.37.36.1.0.0.0.155.3193.25j11.36.0….0…1c.1.27.hp..33.4.305.O-o3e06mh_Y

  • http://www.dpom.co.uk/ Brett Dixon

    Absolutely, great links send traffic

  • http://www.andykuiper.com/ Andy Kuiper – SEO Analyst

    Interesting post John. It is getting harder to tell where the line is, however I’m not in the group that ‘loves Ezine Articles’ – not at all ;-)

  • Graciousstore

    Why should links from EzineArtilces be considered as bad back links for some websites and not for others?

  • anil kumar pandey

    I had also similar experience. After deep diving, I observe that what was overall quality(relevance,valuable,informative) of article written , instead of just a piece of content written around keywords and in what context you have given links to your site like using different anchors pointing to same page.Also experienced that author must include only source of most relevant reference in article.

  • Gridlock

    They’re not necessarily bad BACKLINKS, they’re examples of the TYPES of link the spammer has been using.

    C’mon (EDIT: Not Barry) Barry, you obviously read the WMH forum (even if you don’t feel the need to help anyone), you must have learned this by now? It’s ben shouted from the rooftops enough times.

    Even if those links are OK, the spammer has been egregiously overusing this TYPE of spam. The lesson for “SEO Professionals” isn’t ‘think twice about using ezine’, it’s “think twice about being a spammer”.

  • Gridlock

    NOFOLLOW. Duh.

  • Jyothi S

    Hello. I totally agree with you here. Also I feel keyword tool is removed for the betterment of google SERPs.

  • http://www.bloofusion.de/ Andy Schuelke

    Google would probably also call out links from articles like this one as violating their guidelines if they are keyword heavy and have no value for readers.
    IMHO the intention behind a link is what matters most. Links from articles and press releases can still be useful and good backlinks, as long as the sole purpose is not “improved ranking for keyword XYZ”.

  • John E Lincoln

    It is nice to have no follow as an option. But I’m many cases, you dont have the ability to add it. Some press release services for example don’t give you the option to add no follow.

  • Gal Agassi

    It all comes down to one thing, simply switch your campaign to Pay Per Click and you are safe, anything else you do results in…

    Well, not exactly, I mean if “they” cross the line (which seems very dynamic these days), they may face antitrust, but so far “they” move fast with their no-touch icing rules. Interesting enough, sites with nominal volume of links and aged sites with good SERP seem to perform better now days as long as they target local search and have their business listing done well. However if you want to market to a larger geography targeting high on search organic keywords, you may want to consider a paid campaign.

    The opportunity is now in the 2nd tier keywords (medium volume, less competitive and typically up to 3 million page results) with the average organic campaign growing from 10 to 20 keywords.

  • Reg Charie

    Removing the offending URL from the “bad link” on the article site just shrouds the event in mystery, it does not provide a concrete example. Google aims to confuse, not educate.
    The article could be about something not related to the linked site’s content and thus falls into the category of a “bad link”.

    I can understand press releases being made objectionable IF they are dofollow links.
    After all, press releases are blatant self promotion and do not improve the information silos.

    As SEO professionals we need to change our mindset and understand that it is all out war on links placed to influence search results.

  • Sweta Srivastava

    Hi Gracious. It is not just for some websites. Ezinearticle actually spread same articles to its other directory which cause duplicate content issue, and I’m sure you’ll be knowing about duplicate content issue.

    Same article directory as Ezinearticles are considered as bad back links. However if you want to put link , just link with your brand keywords not with exact match targeting keywords. It wont considered as bad back links.

  • VerticalMarketing.Co

    What I think is that webmasters and SEO professionals who
    are managing quality websites that are hit by this nonsense last minute rules
    should band together in a class action suit! Who is Google to say you cannot
    link to your own website in a product announcement! The way I see this – this is
    nothing but a money play! While the government meaning the FTC and others are busy
    trying to hold on to their jobs and hoping to get paid sometime before Christmas
    - Google is throwing things out there trying to see what sticks to the wall! Consider
    this, what are the bread and butter of adWords? Small businesses are! … and if those small businesses are unable to
    rank their website or afford an SEO professional – what do you think they are going to do? They are going to spend
    more money in adWords!

  • VerticalMarketing.Co

    What I think is that webmasters and SEO professionals who
    are managing quality websites that are hit by this nonsense last minute rules
    should band together in a class action suit! Who is Google to say you cannot
    link to your own website in a product announcement! The way I see this – this is
    nothing but a money play! While the government meaning the FTC and others are busy
    trying to hold on to their jobs and hoping to get paid sometime before Christmas
    - Google is throwing things out there trying to see what sticks to the wall! Consider
    this, what are the bread and butter of adWords? Small businesses are! … and if those small businesses are unable to
    rank their website or afford an SEO professional – what do you think they are going to do? They are going to spend
    more money in adWords!

  • VerticalMarketing.Co

    If the number along was an issue then HP, Dell, GM, Ford and
    others websites should disappear very soon! Some of these guys with 20, 30 – 100
    departs put out 10 releases per day! The issue here is discrimination! Why is
    it that what is good for Google, Apple, HP, etc is not good for a website owner
    of a small business!

  • Raj

    Yes, You r right

  • Raj

    Yes, You r right

  • Siva Kumar

    I have given a no follow article link as example in response of my reconsideration request. The article contains money keywords with nofollow links to my site. Should i consider money keywords having no follow links too ?

  • http://www.bruceclay.com/in/ Bruce Clay India

    Nice post…. Now days most of the article directories (including ezine) are considered as spam links due to their share partners. They share ezine duplicate content throughout their website and by this way, one article spread to numerous no. of website.

  • Andy

    If you guest post on a website. Doesn’t it get editor’s vote? The editor first has to approve of the article before publishing it (not the post your article for free websites). Why does Google punish guest posts then?

  • Andy

    If you guest post on a website. Doesn’t it get editor’s vote? The editor first has to approve of the article before publishing it (not the post your article for free websites). Why does Google punish guest posts then?

 

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