Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Return of the Link Sellers, What Will You Do?

link buildingGoogle™ uses links to measure the importance or popularity of web pages. This is generally well understood but if you're confused then our what is link building blog post will help.

That aside, Google places important web pages, those with a good link profile, at the top of the search results so it should be clear that having links to your pages helps them get found. In simple terms, popular content, pages with links, rise to the top of search results. Enter the link sellers.

The Rise of the Link Sellers Spammers

Way back in the wild west days of the web there was a massive link building industry and this is how it worked.

  1. Companies created thousands of websites using low-cost economy workers.
  2. By controlling these websites they were able to sell links from them.
  3. People bought links from them.
  4. Their website rankings improved.
  5. What could go wrong?

cowboy link buildersWebsite owners desperate for better rankings bought link packages from these companies and saw their rankings improve. Happy days. However, Google's whole business model relied on their search results being genuine so they declared war on sites that manipulated the search engine results pages or SERPs. To cut a very long story short, they were reasonably successful. Many websites crashed and burned and some businesses went under as a result. 

Fast Forward to 2017

Today, it seems the dust has settled and the link spammers are back in force, or at least they are based on my inbox and phone. That's because every day we get offers of zero effort link building services, the whole "$x for #y number of links". #FFS!

Can this approach to SEO and SERP manipulation work? Hell yes. Should you do it? That depends on whether you're trying to build a business or make a quick buck. Let me explain.

Fight The Good Fight

If you fancy your chances against Google and you're confident that you're smarter than their web spam team then go right ahead and base your SEO strategy on gaming the Google search system. After all, the rewards are huge and it's got to be worth the risk, right? Also, there's no denying it works, you only need to listen to the army of shouty men telling you how they have got the secret sauce to smashing Google to confirm that...

fightAdd to all this the fact that getting links is hard and it's not difficult to see why the link building industry is once again on the rise. What. To. Do?

We Think Brian's Got It Right

Brian Dean's page all about link building pretty much nails it in my view. I'm going to ignore his advice about creating something bigger and better in this instance and say that from now on when we get enquiries about link building I'm going to advise them to read that page, I'm not going to try and trump it. Brian acknowledges the importance of links, rejects the idea you can simply buy the links you need and advocates the whole build a site that deserves to rank approach to search engine success, the same as us. Gotta love validation.

got it rightThe techniques he outlines make sense, they are not spammy and at the heart of his approach is the fantastic content that sets spammers apart from the genuine businesses. Hallelujah to that!

So the next time someone contacts us when they are looking for an inbound or search marketing agency and asks the questions, (and this is a direct quote) "How many links will you get me and can you send me an example." I'll advise them against their approach and point them at Brian's page.

How To Get Links

On our page outlining link building techniques, we provide the anatomy of a perfect link. It's a somewhat simplistic example for illustration purposes but it describes a thought process and plan of action. This is an important consideration when you set out to secure links. Remember, links to your pages will dramatically improve your rankings but to secure them you need something worth linking to.

What People Don't Link To

To understand what constitutes something link-worthy it's worth considering what type of content rarely gets linked to.

  1. Product pages.
  2. Self-promotion pages.
  3. Selling pages.

boredBasically, pages on your site that tell the world how great you are or offer products for sale or in some other way promote your company, its products and services will not attract links. The problem here is many companies have websites that only do this.

What People Do Link To

On the flip side, people will link to web content that helps them or interests them. Thing such as;

  1. Informative blog posts.
  2. Useful guides.
  3. Tips and tricks.
  4. Helpful videos.
  5. Handy tools such as calculators.
  6. Thought pieces.

excitingIn other words, content that helps and educates might, over time, secure links. Brian's page illustrates this point with some nice examples.

The Choice Is Simple

So, in conclusion, the choice is simple. You can buy zero effort links and hope Google's web spam team don't uncover the link network you bought into, and they might not, or you can earn links. Earning them is hard and involves a lot of work but if successful will create something others will find hard to beat. If you'd like to discuss any of this we offer a free 30-minute consultation where we can look at your content and see if it's link-worthy and if not what you could do to change that.

More in this category: content marketing