One question I get asked quite often, usually comes in the form of the statement : “I’ve found company X offering to do Y-thousand back links over Z weeks for some fixed amount of money” (adjust variables as necessary!). You might think such information helps you assess the value of such a service, but it does not. Today I will be asking : just how effective are link buying tactics? What are the potential risks? And how do these compare with links won for good quality content?
Well, it really depends on who is acquiring the links for you. Unless you know for sure how and where they plan to obtain these links, there is always a degree of risk to your site and domain.
What Are The Risks of Link Buying?
Google is very smart, and is aware of these tactics. In the worst case scenario, your link building company has no ethics and will use link farming and spam techniques to obtain the sheer volume of links for you. If Google notices this sudden influx of poor quality links, your domain name may be penalised, impairing it’s ability to rank – or worse – may actually be blacklisted altogether.
How Can I Judge The Quality of Paid Back Links?
When I used to work for Tescos, one of their slogans was: ‘would you buy it?’ – do you feel the standard of service and presentation of the product meets your own personal standards? I like to think the same is true of the Web : ‘would you click it?’. If these links come from a site which someone may find helpful, and the links contribute to the usefulness and structure of the Web, then you have nothing to worry about. If however, the referring sites include nonsensical gibberish, repetition of keywords and features links that appear to be going around in circles, then be afraid! Be very, very afraid!
The page rank of the referring page is also another important indicator. Google will not assign a page rank at all if it suspects foul play is afoot. If the referring page has a Google page rank other than zero, you are probably quite safe. This is why I often advise people to go for a smaller number of higher PR links, rather than sheer volume alone. There is significantly less risk, and potentially more for you to gain!
Advantages of Buying Links vs. Quality Content Linkbaiting
Recent updates to Google’s algorithm, mean that more weighting is given to relevance and quality of content that surrounds the link. I believe this is one fundamental cornerstone that has ushered in the current era of SEO blogging. If the link is surrounded by well written, rich and informative text content, you will find the link does several times more for you than a series of generic business directory listings. Not only this – but the traffic it conducts is likely to stay longer, be more interested in the topics you discuss and will improve the overall health of our SEO itself.
The (Current) Verdict?
In a perfect world, I think Google would like everyone to keep their links very context-relevant, and would like to encourage all users to freely contribute as much information as they possibly can to the Web. But in reality, not everyone has time to get very involved in generating rich content – particularly if you have a business to run! Be sure you have an idea what type of links your link broker will build. Go for quality not quantity - 5 good back links will do more for you than 50 generic ones, do not be swayed by sheer volume alone! And – as always – be very cautious.