With Google cracking down on low quality links, the value of links from trusted sources is more important than ever. After all, it’s one of the things that tell Google just how much value your content has and that it’s worth linking to. However, some people still use a lot of the old linking practices that have gotten a lot of sites in trouble post-Panda and Penguin.
Why Companies Still Bite on Cheap Back Linking Services
The most obvious answer is they think they’re getting a good deal. When limited by a small budget, a thousand links looks better than ten. According to Jason DeMers of SearchEngineJournal.com:
Many of the blackhat backlink services offer cheap prices. They also have slick advertising and sales pages where they show proof and talk about the great success of their techniques. Many of these vendors sell their services on public forums and other places claiming that their backlinks are “penguin proof”. However, in order to cut costs, they are forced to use low-quality content in order to create their backlinks. Because of the quality of their content, they have to post to places that are considered to be questionable (aka “bad neighborhoods”) because of their lack of editorial review.
While many of the tactics these cheap SEO firms use are no longer effective and can actually have a negative impact on your SEO, the promise of thousands of links on a small budget still has its appeal.
BAD LINKING PRACTICES TO AVOID
Mass Website Directory Submissions
There was a time when submitting your site to a directory was a popular tactic because it was easily scalable. There was even software you could get to automate the process to multiple directories. However, these days, such links have almost no value. According to Jason:
…they simply existed to make money off advertising revenue and leach users from search results pages. Furthermore, business owners and SEOs were trained to use manipulative, exact-match anchor text in their listings, which was later heavily penalized by Google’s Penguin algorithm update.
Another source of back links you want to avoid are article directories. Unlike simply submitting your site to a website directory, article directories require an article to be written. It used to work pretty well and was the bread and butter of many SEO firms prior to the Penguin and Panda updates. According Jason:
Articles are often “spun,” meaning that certain words or phrases are changed (usually automatically) to their synonyms and then randomized, resulting in something unrecognizable to search engines. This is done to avoid a duplicate content penalty. Unfortunately, the output of the “spun” articles is often gibberish that makes no sense and only clogs up search engine results pages with nonsense.
However, Google cracked down on this practice because of the low quality content that tended to result from it. Also, SEOs were simply flooding the internet with these articles, creating a giant muck of content that Google had to wade through.
Guest posting has gotten more popular recently as people search for less spammy ways to gain back links without earning the wrath of Google. Cristen Bagley of TechWyse.com:
…if you’re submitting guest blogs to sites that have nothing to do with what you do, you aren’t giving yourself any SEO benefits, and are perhaps even setting yourself up for a manual Google penalty.
Commenting on other blogs can fall into this too. While posting a comment with a link back to your site isn’t actually all that bad, it’s when you do a lot of it all at one time or on sites that are irrelevant to your niche, it can actually hurt you. Yet it’s funny how a lot of these blackhat SEO services offer these as a way of generating thousands of links for cheap.
Focusing Too Much on Follow Links
One thing you should know about links is they come in two flavors: follow and no-follow. The difference between the two is that follow links pass on SEO value or Page Rank from the source while no-follow links don’t. Follow links tend to come directly from other websites themselves as a result of them actively linking to you. No-follow links tend to come from comments sections, forums, and paid links.
You would think that you would want more follow links, but the thing is, if you focus too much on them, it affects the balance of your link profile. After all, a natural link profile would consist of a nice balance of follow and no-follow links. BrickMarketing.com explains:
Some websites put a “no follow” attribute on their outbound links so that the search engine spiders won’t follow them and they won’t improve SEO. This doesn’t mean that the links don’t have value. Social links are no follow, do you think that means you shouldn’t share on Twitter or LinkedIn? If the link could be seen by target audience members and generate traffic, it is worth attaining.
Other Bad Practices
Over the years, black hat marketers had devised simple ways of obtaining links back to their site. And almost none of them are good as Google has been hard at work to detect and ignore such practices. Some of these bad linking practices include link wheels, link pyramids, link exchanges, low quality press releases and the like.
Unfortunately, a lot of website owners receive tons of bad advice through their inbox in the form of cheap SEO firms that want their business. In the end, the damage that these services can cost can be very costly indeed, especially if you find that your rankings have suddenly taken a hit, taking a nice chunk of your income with it. Jayson DeMers says:
At this point, an SEO audit is needed to audit your entire list of links and determine which ones need to be removed. There are professional services available to help with this. After getting the list of bad links, work with website owners to remove the links. If this seems like a daunting task, it is. For sites that don’t respond to your request for removal, you can use the Google disavow tool to disavow the links.