Building backlinks is key to expanding your business’s presence on the internet and increasing your product or service awareness. Not only will more people be visiting your website, but you’ll be appearing higher in results from the most popular search engines—including Google. This means that people searching for related topics will be pointed to your site and be more likely to purchase from your company.
It’s not a surprise that many companies use aggressive link-building tactics to grow quickly and see results as soon as possible. However, these tactics can backfire in more ways than one.
Google is far and away from the most popular search engine, and they are also constantly updating their algorithm to determine the order in which sites are ranked. Not only is it essential to maintain a good reputation for quality links, but Google actually penalizes businesses that try to game their algorithm by using certain tactics when building links.
The internet moves fast, and some tactics used effectively in the past have since fallen out of favor. As the online world evolves, Google’s code of conduct has evolved with it, and both of these tactics can now be classified as spam. If a link-building service recommends them to you, that likely means they’re stuck on yesterday’s tactics and may not be the best fit for your company.
- Private Blog Networks- These networks were one of the great hacks of the internet’s past but quickly became an express-lane to getting your ranking penalized. Private blog networks involve interconnected groups of password-protected sites that all link to each other and your content, boosting online presence for all sites involved without being accessible to the internet at large. The giveaway was that all the sites were linked to the same IP, allowing Google to pick up on who was using this tactic.
- Press Releases- While your business may put out press releases for legitimate purposes, you shouldn’t try to use them to boost your site’s ranking. Companies can release the same press release through multiple newswires and end up with tens or even hundreds of links across the web. Unfortunately, this tactic was exploited by companies overusing it to get as many hits as possible. Now it’s considered an untrustworthy tactic and won’t count towards your search ranking.
Links Lacking Context
Everyone has seen a random commenter drop a link to their blog or business without context below an article or video. Most people don’t take this very seriously. Very few would choose to click that link, and Google knows it. To build useful, contextual links that flow naturally with the content and actually draw clicks, you must be relevant. Professional services like PureLinq can help you build the right profile to avoid Google penalties with contextual links.
- Forums and Comments- These venues play host to the highest numbers of context-free links. Although they can be valuable—if they’re coming from a verified user, who is sharing them for a legitimate reason on a relevant piece of content, the risk is generally too great on a trusted site. Often, they’re just spammy links accumulating under random posts, making your site look bad.
- Guestbook- Adding links to guestbooks is an old method as few sites even have this function anymore. However, it used to be popular for sites to have a section where visitors could leave a message. This was used as an opportunity for people to promote their own site or product. The host had no control over the content posted, so its presence on their site wasn’t meaningful. Google now usually sees these links as spam as well.
Links From Cheap Or Automated Services
Entrusting your company’s reputation and link profile to these services is among the worst ways to build links and can have severe consequences for your business once Google catches on.
- Automated Link Builders- These tools will post links for you on sites around the internet without you having to do any work. It sounds easy, but it’s a double-edged sword—you’re giving up the ability to assess the links associated with your site and make good choices. These services may make big promises, but what they’re likely doing is posting spam links that will get you penalized.
- Cheap Pay-to-Play Services- A step above, but still dangerous, you’ll find many offers on sites like Fiverr that offer you links on different sites in exchange for money. While you may get better results than with bots, you’re still violating policies and subverting the natural flow of online traffic, and when Google finds out, they will penalize you.
Consequences of Risky Tactics
Google can impose serious penalties on businesses found to be engaging in unethical tactics to build links, including dropping them down in the search rankings or even bumping them off the rankings entirely. This can be devastating for a business’s online profile, as JC Penney found out when exposed to private blog networks to build links. Even if Google doesn’t drop the hammer of manual penalties, using bad links can still hurt your site’s reputation and cause organic damage to your blog ranking.
Organic Link Building for Lasting Success
It can be tempting to try to take shortcuts when link building. However, the benefits of taking the time to build an organic link profile on Google will pay long-term dividends. Not only will you stay in Google’s good graces, but you’ll be building trust with your customer base, which you will reap the benefits of for years to come.