Avoid Link Building Services That Do More Harm than Good
Once upon a time, Google determined the domain authority of websites by using the number of links the website accrued. If your website had links pointing to it from a number of other websites, you had a high domain authority. You were popular!
Unfortunately, many websites (and more than one SEO agency) took advantage of this type of random link acquisition and went on to use unorthodox manipulations and spammy links to rank as high as possible on search engine result pages (SERPs).
This type of link building did not deliver the best search engine results to a person searching with Google. And Google wants you to find exactly what you are looking for so you will continue to use their search engine and so they can continue to deliver advertisements which generate revenue (for one thing).
Now please don’t misunderstand me. Although backlinks are still quite relevant and crucial to any SEO strategy, websites must avoid certain link building services like plague because they will negatively affect their search rankings.
Building High-Quality Links – Don’t Rely on Link Building Services
Building links back to your website remains one of the most important ranking factors, but the links must be high quality. (You can actually be penalized for links that are considered toxic.) Backlinks function as a sort of roadmap for search engines. This makes it necessary for websites to have authoritative and quality links directed their way. The more authoritative, relevant, and natural links your website has pointing at it, the higher your chances of ranking for a particular keyword in SERPs. This will work toward increasing your website’s visibility.
As a website owner, this simply means you should be wary of how and where you place links that point toward your site. If Google decides that you are spamming with the intention of improving your website’s ranking, well, you could do some long-term damage to your SEO.
Nowadays, the internet is filled with blackhat link schemes by “SEO strategists” claiming to build tons of backlinks to your website and all for a price. In this article, I will cover link-building services that could earn you a penalty from search engines.
Don’t be like J.C. Penny in 2010.
It’s 2018, and that’s NOT what you want for your business.
Link Building Services You Should Avoid
The following includes irrelevant and/or shady link building strategies you should never use, and some are considered black hat SEO.
Irrelevant or Low-Quality Directories
There was a time when submitting links in all types of directories worked, but the introduction of Google Penguin neutralized that and made their effects negligible. There are still beneficial directories out there, usually costly and preferably related to your niche. Using niche-based, highly targeted directories is a means to create relationships and organization between companies in a similar industry. Having your link in such directories can slightly improve your website’s authority, although they are typically used for citation building and Local SEO.
On the other hand, putting your links in directories that are not related to your niche is a wrong practice and should be avoided. Search engines deindex low-quality directories periodically, making the effort time consuming, wasteful, and unnecessary.
This is a common sight on blog posts without comment moderation. We see these practices happening daily on the blogs we manage for our clients. The comments made are usually spammy and irrelevant, and you shouldn’t hire someone who claims they can get you tons of backlinks from blog commenting. Quite frankly, I make these as spam as soon as I see them, and I would NEVER click those links (and neither should you).
That being said, the effect of these backlinking blog comments on your SEO strategy is essentially inconsequential. This is because there are usually many outbound links on such pages that the quality of the backlink is greatly reduced. Not worth your time and could hurt your business’ reputation if you become known for spammy blog comments.
Article directories were the trend for ranking high on search engines at one time. Websites like EzineArticles allowed users to post articles for free and served as a cheap way to amass hundreds of link needed to dominate the first page. All you had to do was come up with a keyword-stuffed article and submit them to thousands of article directories.
This trend didn’t slip past Google, though, and it ultimately caused the search engine to penalize badly written, keyword stuffed articles. These low- quality article directories were no exception. They were penalized and devalued. Although guest posting is not wrong, avoid the practice of submitting duplicate content to different article directories. Google’s algorithm penalizes unoriginal content across the web.
Also called reciprocal linking, link exchanging is a good way to build relationships on the internet. However, link exchanging to improve your SEO is a link building service you should most likely avoid.
If you still want to exchange links, find appropriate partners with high domain authority that will benefit your readers as well. Constantly exchanging links with another website can get attract serious penalty from Google. If too many of your backlinks are coming from a certain site, it could negatively affect your SEO strategy.
Link farms function solely for hosting backlinks to other websites. They are typically cheap with insignificant domain authority. They are used purposely to boost search engine ranks and traffic for other websites.
Most of these sites have no place no Google’s SERPs because they do not have relevant information. The use of Link Farms is a blackhat SEO strategy that should be avoided at all costs.
Many people have the habit of placing their links everywhere they make comments, regardless of relevance. This is a bad link development practice and includes the use of blog commenting that I mentioned earlier in this article. Although it is safe (for the most part) to use forum or blog comments for link building, you will be doing more harm than good if the primary aim is to build domain authority.
The best way to utilize this option is to use relevant threads that give you the opportunity to show your expertise. Use that to link back to a relevant page on your website. Understand that if you are answering a question for someone by linking to that information on your website, you will drive traffic to your website. Traffic and search engine ranking don’t always go hand in hand, especially here.
If you do plan on using a site like Quora or Reddit, be careful not to use the same link repeatedly, and constantly work on your content marketing to ensure you have a variety of quality information to share.
Google flagged press releases back in 2013 because they tend to be spammy (too much duplicate content across the web) and sometimes irrelevant. Google also warned all platforms used for press releases to use nofollow on the links, since they often come directly from the company that they are promoting. Essentially this is tooting your own horn to gain links back to your website.
Authentic press releases are a way to highlight your company and create quality white hat links, especially when published by high-ranking news websites. (Have you done something amazing that you should tell the press about? Make a phone call. Reach out!) However, if your press releases are irrelevant and present nothing noteworthy, you may be harming your link building strategy as well as your company’s perception across the internet.
According to Google’s official policy, paying for backlinks is improper. You want to attract links to your site. You never want to pay for a backlink.
You should be highly wary of link building services that are offering to give you high-quality backlinks at a cost. Regardless of the quality of those links, you may incur a penalty if your website is discovered to have paid for such links. This usually happens when they discover that your source has been selling backlinks. While paying for SEO services is safe, paying for backlinks is a NO.
Final Notes on Link Building Services to Avoid
While avoiding the aforementioned link building services is a safe practice, building your backlinks the right way is not a failsafe way to avoid penalties.
Ensure that you pay attention to the frequency and context of your links. Regardless of the authority of the sites, you’re posting to, make sure that the links you post are useful to the reader and applicable to the subject matter. If you are not sure, use nofollow links to minimize the risk. And don’t forget about some easy link building wins you can earn with social media.
Bottom line – building quality backlinks requires time and diligence. Avoid bad link building services like plague, and take no shortcuts.
Founder/CEO of HeartBrain Marketing
email me: nancy at heartbrain dot marketing