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How can I make my backlinks "safe" in Google's eyes?

+49 votes

The Facts About Link Building

We know that Google says that you should never buy links to help your ranking, or build links in any "unnatural" way. Everything should be "organic" and "natural", blah blah blah.

But we also all know that very, very few of the sites ranking for big money keywords are doing everything organically and naturally. They all buy backlinks. They all build backlinks.

Especially for more competitive search terms, the bottom line is you have to be building backlinks regardless of what Google has to say about whether or not that's acceptable. Well, you don't have to, but if you want to rank in Google you do.

These are the facts.

So how can you make your links "safe" in Google's eyes? 

301 Redirection Is Your Friend

Google states publicly that if you want to move content to a new location you can use a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is a command that tells whoever is accessing the page that it has moved permnently.

Since Google understands that sometimes content has to be moved, any links aimed at the old location are also counted toward the ranking of the new location.

It's on these facts that we can build our linking "safety net".

If you have a site that's very important to you, and you want to try and be more aggressive with your link building to see if you can improve your ranking, don't link directly to the page you want to rank.

Instead, link to a "buffer" page on a different domain that 301 redirects to the actual "money" page. If those links cause your site's ranking to improve, great! Success is yours. But if for any reason those links actually hurt your ranking -- just delete the redirecting page off of the buffer site.

It may take a few days (or even up to a few weeks), but Google will eventually remove the dropped links from affecting your money site/page.

How To Create a 301 Redirecting Page

Creating a 301 redirecting page is simple. A few lines of PHP code is all it takes:

header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently"); 
Just copy/paste the code above into a file with the extension .php (for example, myrediretpage.php) and upload it to your buffer site. Then create your backlinks aimed at that page instead of directly to the money page.
The Downsides
There are a couple of downsides to this method. For one thing, you have to pay for the hosting and domain registration of a new site. That's pretty inexpensive, though, especially compared to a severe drop in rankings if you get it wrong.
To be extra safe, you need to use a different buffer site for every money site you use this method on (rather than just uploading a ton of redirecting pages to one buffer site). That can get expensive -- but again, it all depends on how much you stand to lose.
Real World SEO
It would be great to live in a world where Google didn't constantly say they want one thing ("natural" links) while always rewarding those who do the other thing (buying/building links), but we don't live in that world.
Until we do, this is one method you can use to ensure your money site is "safe" from Google's next change where the links they used to be okay with are no longer considered ok, and what used to work no longer works.
Worst case scenario you could always just delete the buffer site entirely and wait for Google to recrawl and realize all of those redirects are gone. In time your money site will go back to having a "squeaky clean" link profile and you can start over again without having to give up your well-branded domain name and all of the awesome content you've worked so hard on.
Here's to your success!
asked Sep 1, 2013 in Search Engine Optimization by jonathanleger (20,200 points)  
reshown Sep 5, 2013 by jonathanleger
"...If those links cause your site's ranking to improve, great! Success is yours. But if for any reason those links actually hurt your ranking ..."

what's the best way to determine this?  If implementing diversified backlink sources - over time - a simple up or down movement of rankings doesn't really indicate any specific cause.
hey jon, real interesting strategy.  just slight confusion here, i may be making it to technical. but wouldn't you want to try and pass link juice to sub-pages on the site you are trying to rank?

like qopycat said if you have 3 pages (cat, dog, bird) on money site, each page targeting a number of relevant keywords, wouldn't you want link juice with the correct anchors getting passed to the correct sub-page, not just the homepage?

i know you should be having links come to all of your sites' pages not just the homepage to be safe right?

it may be more work but could it end up being more effective?  

for example: my ezine article on cats has link pointing to ==> to, than a high pr link goes to>, ect, ect?

And the buffer site itself, is it more advisable to make the site look legit? create quality content about the subject on the redirecting page, then just slip in the redirect as the site starts to get some links flowing to it?
To make good backlinks in Google's eyes is just give value to the place where you want to build your links back. One of the examples is by answering questions from Yahoo Answers, Forums, and writing tips and guides over Wikihow and the likes.

Guest posting to authority site is also a good moves. Why not try it?
Great share!  thanks for detailed article!
To make your backlinks safe in Google's eyes, you need to make sure that the backlinks came from an authoritative websites or webpages. Another thing is that, don't point your links to those spammy sites as Google will see your links connected to each other.

10 Answers

+6 votes
Thanks Jon,

Is this a prelude into your new backlinking service?
answered Sep 1, 2013 by GlennF (410 points)  
It both a prelude and another opportunity to introduce people to the new Q&A site for they hadn't seen it yet.

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+5 votes
Sooooo, please correct me if I'm wrong about this.

IF we have, for example, and  I think some of us buy both or .net also when we can and one of them (or both extra ones) remain undeveloped.  But is developed and we work on it.  So it is our "money site."

We can build backlinks to and we don't have to develop it all.  No WordPress installed, no home page, nothing?  Is that right?  Just go into cpanel and upload that file?

IF this is correct?  And does G sees them as totally separate domains?

answered Sep 1, 2013 by dona (240 points)  
That's the idea, yes.

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Thanks for answering so quickly.  

This is great.  Definitely a safety net.  This will be fun!  We can experiment more.  My problem with backlinking is I'm really conservative and therefore, standing still in regards to rankings and money.  

I'll do this and then venture out without doing this on other domains after testing things.  

Sorry, rambling. . . thinking out loud.  LOL

Thanks so much for this info.
Sure thing. It's one of those tactics that seem so obviousonce yyou know it but very few people think about it.

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Suppose I have a, and I redirect to it.
Then I find a High PR domain and want to pass the juice to the money site. What should I do? Should I link it to the money site directly as a separate website? In this case I have to regularly update this site and have to spend time in it.
Or should I make that domain as by redirecting it to the money site? This way, I may save time by not updating this domain.
And the third option is to redirect the newly found domain to
Which is the good option?
Is it "normal" to have more than one buffer sites for a single money site?
Please answer.

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Hi Bittukishu,

This went to my email address as an answer to my answer.  I'm not really qualified to answer, but no one has yet and I will try.

Just in case someone else reads this,  HELP.  

Once you do the redirect, you want to treat the one you are redirecting FROM as THE domain that you build links to and do not build links to the domain that you are redirecting to.  That's the whole purpose of what Jon is stating.  You can be aggressive in your link building and at the same time you are protecting the domain that is being redirected TO.
Quote from Jon: [If you have a site that's very important to you, and you want to try and be more aggressive with your link building to see if you can improve your ranking, don't link directly to the page you want to rank.]

If your link building aggressiveness becomes a problem in Google's eye, then just remove the redirect and start back building links more carefully with your domain (the protected site with all your hard work on it).   

(It is not really a "buffer" site in the sense of what you are talking about.  You can have unlimited buffer sites going to money pages.  That has nothing to do with this technique.)

I hope this helps.  Maybe someone else will see this and answer also.  

Take care,
In regards to the purchased domain - if you use it as the primary buffer, and the links get flagged by Google (or other SE), you run the risk of losing the value of your investment in the purchased site. Keep your buffer site, and use the purchased site solely for it's existing link "juice".  In fact, you can have a couple of buffer sites.... Be sure that you are spreading around the IP addresses of your buffer sites too.  If you have 3 different buffer sites, all pointing to your money site, if you can use 3 different IP addresses - do it.  Your IP is part of your footprint, so if all the redirects pointing to your site are from different URLs, but all on the same IP, you risk getting the entire IP flagged, and nothing good will come from that....
Since I'm getting this as an answer to my comment, I will reply.  Otherwise I wouldn't reply.  IF you had commented on Bittukishu, who had the original comment, then I would have left it alone.  That is what I wanted help on.  Someone to reply to them and help them.  I have no problem with Jon's post.  I understand it totally.  People are making this harder than it has to be.  Talking about having "3 different buffer sites, all pointing to your money site" is confusing the issue brought from this post originated by Jon Leger.

This post is about something that is NOT about what you are talking about.  I understand what buffer sites are and how to use them.  Jon Leger started this post and it is a very good technique.  I believe he explained it well.  MY comments were to solidify it in my mind.  

Thank you anyway, but you are "preaching to the choir."  
Really Nice And Good Information Thaks
+4 votes
What would be the consequences of using subdomains as buffer sites? You wouldn't have to pay for domain registration or hosting.
answered Sep 1, 2013 by jerrywaxman (6,860 points)  
Using the subdomain would defeat the purpose becausethe "bad"  links wwould still be aimed at your site.

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Try this hypothetical: We set up a generic domain as a buffer site.  Then we set up subdomains of the generic domain as buffers for our money sites. That would save money on domain registration and hosting, but would it be a good solution?
Yeah that would work, but it's risky because you have one site redirecting so many pages to so many other sites. The could cause a review and manual penalty of all sites involved. I wouldn't recommend it. One buffer site for each money site is better.

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+4 votes
Hmmm, it looks like interesting, but currently, due to "crazy google", I wouldn't know if it's good idea to delete redirects or keep it. :-S

In January/February, I deleted some websites (low PR, very low traffic) containing backlinks (as blogrolls!) to other websites and I realized traffic reduction on those websites. I don't know, yet, if there is some relationship!

I have realized some improvement using blog commenting (even if backlinks are no-follow), but it's very early to conclude anything.
answered Sep 1, 2013 by Christiano (49,030 points)  
+4 votes
I've heard of a similar technique making web 2.0 sites like blogger blogs, blasting them with links then linking them to your money site. Do you think that would make a good free alternative to 301's that you have to pay for?
answered Sep 1, 2013 by blackcat (19,040 points)  
No, because it loses the advantage of having the full weight o the redirected links being applied to your money page.

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0 votes
Try to spread your links over many root domains and also c blocks for a more natural affect.
answered Sep 5, 2013 by KeithCash (260 points)  
0 votes

Link building has to appear natural.. So what is a natural link?

Someone bookmarks or shares your site, article or page.

A similar site adds a link to yours (in any way they choose) because they find your info useful or complimentary to their readers..


The simple answer to link building and making it safe and natural is above!

But how do you manipulate it, add more links continuously and make it safe and natural?

Make sure you vary your anchor text a great deal more than normal these days... no text is good too, images, just the url, random text, and the links with and without www. ..... No follow is important too!

If you use just a bit of common sense in link building you would understand that in the natural way you have no way to control how people link to you and in what way, text, etc... So just follow that rule..

The worst you could do is use only text and to your keywords, you just can't do that anymore these days!!

Good luck!

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answered Sep 7, 2013 by winstanleyf1 (1,540 points)  
0 votes

A very nice sharing. Thanks for the knowledge. yes

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answered Sep 8, 2013 by anamel (12,110 points)  
0 votes
In my opinion, one of the ways to make backlinking process look natural is doing it randomly and slowly. It means you can make 2 backlinks today, 0 tomorrow, and 1 the next day, and maybe 5 the next day, and then 0 again.

"We Will Become What We Think About"

answered Oct 16, 2013 by Blue Spring (8,310 points)  
0 votes
I respectfully have to disagree with this strategy. Even if it works for a time, when it becomes too popular Google will find a way to address the issue and penalize the site. Removing the 301 redirect does not guarantee the removal of penalties.

You are 100% correct saying that waiting for other webmasters to "naturally" give you links for free to your site without even asking them is a mere utopia. Links have to be built, but my rule of thumb for doing so is one and only one: if a link looks unnatural to a human being then, sooner or later, Google will spot it too. So build links that looks 100% natural to both humans and search engines and don't spam. That's the safest way to do effective SEO without getting caught and receiving penalties.

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answered Jan 17, 2014 by Arthur Burlo (480 points)  
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