If you’re in a hurry to accomplish a favorable page rank and a high position in the search engine results, you’ve probably heard about or even considered the possibility of purchasing links. Is this a good SEO or one which should be completely avoided? There are conflicting opinions in the SEO world, ranging from those who suggest that you never buy links to companies who are dedicated to the sole practice of providing customers with purchase links in order to increase their off page SEO.
In this article, we'll be looking at the impact of link purchasing so that you can make a decision as to whether or not it’s worth your money…and how Google really looks at link building strategies, so you can find what works for you!
The Search Engines’ Take on Link Buying
Matt Cutts from Google has stated that Google considers link buying to be outside of their quality guidelines when it comes to getting a good page rank. He also states that “pretty much every other major search engine feels the same way.” The reason for this is that links are considered to be popularity votes for your site within the internet community. Matt states that “Selling links muddies the quality of link-based reputation and makes it harder for many search engines (not just Google) to return relevant results.”
In other words, the criterion for determining link value is based on a person’s financial investment in purchasing the link rather than the relevance and quality of the link itself. However, this raises the question as to what is actually considered link buying. After all, Google itself, through its Adsense and content network program, assists advertisers in purchasing ad space which provides a link back to their website and to their offer. Some advertisers have claimed that this is a double standard on the part of the search engines and that they need to find a way to filter out the “bad links.”
However, a better approach for you as a business owner would be to take care of filtering out the bad link building practices and make sure that you avoid offers from companies which will use these practices and damage your reputation through shady link building practices…
The Practice of Good Link Buying vs Bad Link Buying
In spite of what the search engines say about link buying, the term itself is really up for interpretation. For example, if you pay an SEO company to build you 100 links a week through posting on social media sites and through content delivery (videos and article marketing), you’re technically buying those links. On the other hand, there are companies who also offer to build you 100 links to your site for a flat fee, but who might engage in questionable practices such as:
1. Leaving irrelevant or vague comments in blogs or forums with a link to your site.
The problem with this is that the comments usually don’t get approved by the blog owner and the link never gets built. So you end up paying or 100 links, less than half (at best) are approved and those which are bring you little or no traffic.
2. Building links through connecting your site to a link farm or spam site
There are hundreds of companies on the internet which use this tactic when it comes to building links for business owners. This can actually cause your purchased links to damage your reputation instead of improving it and possible get you labeled as a spam site.
3. Bulk link building practices where you obtain hundreds of thousands of links in a very short time (a few days).
The search engines are able to see how quickly you obtain your links, and if they see you go from zero to hundreds or thousands within a few days, you look like a spam site. The link building process needs to appear natural, meaning you want to avoid acquiring large numbers of links in a very short time.
So when does it make sense to purchase links? When you hire an SEO firm or specialist who understands the principles of link building, a few of which are:
1. Posting links only on relevant sites.
2. Using a variety of keywords (based on your site’s keyword strategy) within your anchor texts.
3. Using content delivery sites (article and video marketing) to build links using quality content rather than simply posting a link to your site on a link farm.
4. Using process of link building which will increase your PR over time, rather than throwing up hundreds or thousands of links within a few days.
5. Submitting your site to quality directories (some of which will require a submission fee).
These are all legitimate link building practices and paying a company to take care of these for you is completely normal. What the search engines are weary of is purchasing link building services from companies who engage in bad link building practices.
What the Search Engines Suggest for Purchasing Advertising Links
Search engine companies like Google acknowledge that there are companies who choose to outsource their link building and who will purchase advertising on other sites for the sake of generating traffic, or building buzz for their site. In these instances, Matt Cutts has suggested that you should use the rel=”nofollow” attribute in the link. According to Matt, the “nofollow tag allows a site to add a link that abstains from being an editorial vote. Using nofollow is a safe way to buy links, because it’s a machine-readable way to specify that a link doesn’t have to be counted as a vote by a search engine.”
Of course, no follow links don’t provide the same amount of “link juice” which regular links do, but if the purpose is traffic generation or direct advertising, it’s clearly better to use the “nofollow.” This will help you to avoid looking “spammy” to the search engines, and you can separate your link building which is done for the sake of advertising from that which is designed to up your page rank.
So, What Does Google Say About Link Building?
SEO is one of the most controversial topics in internet marketing. This is because the vast majority of “SEO knowledge” is based on pure speculation. Internet marketers don’t run the search engines. All they can do is test and experiment with different techniques. When they find a technique which works with some consistency, that technique is shared with other internet marketers.
The result is a wealth of SEO techniques and strategies which can help you rank your website higher in the search engine rankings. However, there seems to be a lot of gray area with SEO. What’s the difference between white hat and black hat? Is white hat SEO even possible based off Google’s linking requirements?
On places like their webmaster forums, Google talks specifically about SEO and link building. It seems they are taking a much more transparent stance on the issue. In today’s article, we’ll be discussing what they revealed and what it means for internet marketers and SEO experts.
How Are Links Ranked?
There are many different types of links. There are blog comment links, forum post links, guest post links… the list goes on. How does Google REALLY rank these links? Is it important where you get your links from, or is it more of just a numbers game?
In their presentation, Google clarified what many “white hat” bloggers have been saying for years: the source of your link DOES matter – substantially, in fact.
In the world of white hat SEO, most people tend to believe it’s okay to build links. Google is opposed to link building, since it “games” their results, but they realize it’s an essential part to helping your website grow. Link building is important, but more importantly WHERE your links come from is important.
For example, imagine you have three links pointed at one of your pages. Two of these links were from well-known authority websites with relevant content. However, one of the links was from a spam website. In this case, you’re MUCH better off if you drop the spam link. When Google penalizes a website for being spam, any website linked to that spam site is immediately in the crosshairs.
The Best Link Building Strategies
There are plenty of link building strategies out there, but which one offers the best results? Well, Google says the best results come naturally. In other words, when people like your content, they’ll give you a link. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help beginning marketers who don’t have traffic yet.
For this reason, the best link building strategy revolves around authority websites. As mentioned earlier, Google doesn’t like link building but realizes it’s a necessary evil. As long as you are building links from well-respected websites, you will have a very high chance of escaping any punishments from Google.
Guest posting is a great way to build these types of links. Simply find blogs and websites within your niche and write a post for them. If they like it, they’ll feature your post on their website and give you a link for your time.
How to Get “Natural Links”
Getting links naturally is more difficult, yes, but it’s made out to be much more difficult than it actually is. Getting natural links is about providing value with your content. If you entertain, inform, or answer a reader’s question, they will naturally want to link back to you.
Writing list articles (articles which contain “top ten lists” or “ten ways to___” lists) is a great way to do this, as you’re delivering a lot of value within one article. Another great way to gain natural links is to film HD videos related to your niche. These can feature you talking about a specific subject. By providing value to your readers, you dramatically increase the odds they will link back to your website.
Are Links the Biggest Factor?
Lastly, Google stressed a very important point: links aren’t everything. In fact, links seem to matter less and less in the grand scheme of things. As Google’s technology improves, they can begin to rank websites based on other factors. Of these factors, the most important is your website’s content.
The recent Panda Update showed us just how much Google is paying attention to content. If you have a website with spam or filler content, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t rank well in the search positions. This is intentional!
You’ve probably heard of on-page SEO, but it’s usually mentioned as an afterthought. According to Google, your content should always be your first priority. Link building should be the afterthought.
The Most Effective and Up-to-Date SEO Strategies
The world of SEO is constantly changing. One thing is certain, though. As long as internet marketers are regularly experimenting with algorithm changes, we’ll always have an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes.
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The most important thing to keep in mind is that SEO is a process which helps you to market your site to people, gain traffic and build your brand as well as gain favor in the search engine results. As long as you keep this your priority and follow the simple guidelines in this article, you’ll have success with your link building practices, whether you’re paying someone else or taking care of them yourself.