If you are doing SEO, then link building is something which you cannot avoid.
And, even if you are 100% whitehat, you must admit that in reality 100% whitehat SEO is possible only in an ideal world. Google says that any kind of link manipulation is not white hat. So let me ask you, which campaign can you run in SEO for increasing rankings without at least manipulating anchor texts?
Now, the word “manipulation” maybe a bit too strong. But in general it refers to any activity you do to influence your search engine rankings. So in effect almost all SEO’s including the ones who tell that they are 100% white hat do somewhat tend to move to shadier areas of SEO.
I am not getting into the debate of grey hat, blackhat or any other color hat for that matter. My point is, if you are going to listen to Google, I’m pretty sure you’d never get rankings in any competitive industries.
There are ways of indulging in SEO and coming out clean 100%. Like when you want to increase the authority of a site or simply want to make the on page SEO better. In such cases, you can do without link manipulation. But if you are taking on a campaign to increase rankings, in almost all the cases, you’ll end up violating Google Guidelines to some extent.
OK, now that I have covered my perspective of link building, I’d like to dive into some link building practices you must probably avoid. I won’t state the obvious things like don’t spam or don’t do directory submissions. So this is not yet another beginner’s guide to link building.
How Not to Build Links for SEO?
#1 Contest Link Building
Before you say that contest link building is legit, here is a scenario.
Say you are a dietician and people come to you for weight loss advice. When they come to you, what happens when you talk about something random (hopefully something related) and then introduce them to kitchen appliances showrooms, SEO consultants and attorneys in New Jersey?
Not a very pleasant way to treat your patient huh?
Well, that’s what most bloggers do when they enter contests. They write a post and then link to dozens or related and non related sponsors with their desired anchor texts.
Do you know what makes them worse than link selling?
You are not even sure of getting paid and yet you stand a chance of getting a penalty for linking to bad neighborhood. Maybe you’d win a prize, but at the cost of irking your readers and inviting a Google penalty.
The main reason contest link building is going down the drains is because contest hosts have crazy linking rules. It would have been fine to ask users to link to the contest page and also a sponsor page hosted on the contest hosting blog. But asking contestants to link to dozens of sites for entering the contest is simply absurd.
There are some genuine contests which don’t make you link to dozens of spam sites just to enter the contest. Enter those by all means. But stay away from those who want to exploit people with worthless contests. You wouldn’t get much value from a page with dozens of links anyway considering the fact that high quality blogs will not enter such contests.
#2: Fiverr Link Building
I know a lot of people swear by Fiverr.
While I do find Fiverr useful for a lot of things like getting graphics done for your site or maybe getting some cool things done for you (you’ll be amazed at what all people will do for you for 5 dollars over at Fiverr), SEO is not something you should outsource to on Fiverr.
There are a lot of people who offer link building, blog commenting, article spinning and submission, and so on. I even saw one time where someone was guaranteeing top 10 rankings.
What you must understand before flocking to Fiverr for SEO is that the work you get done there are definitely in the black hat area. Ok maybe grey hat. Still, if they are willing to do it for such low rates, rest assured that they are mostly using automated tools to do the job for you.
I recently tried a .edu link building package on a test site. Not only did it not give any benefits (the site did not even get indexed), most of the link building was not exactly from proper edu domains. Additionally these pages have already been spammed like hell.
While you can argue that you shouldn’t expect much for five dollars, my question to you is, why waste five dollars in the first place? This stuff can even get your site in trouble if it’s pretty new.
#3: Private Link Networks
By now, you must have heard of Google busting private link networks.
If you have a site which you need to rank quickly for a short period of time and then you wouldn’t care anymore about it, then private link networks are a good bet for you.
I am not talking about the obvious link networks like BuildMyRank (No longer exists because Google caught them) or LinkVana. I am talking about link networks privately owned and links sold on forums like BlackHatWorld, WarriorForum, and WickedFire.
I have tried a private link network in the past and got a boost in ranking to top 5 spots on page 1 within 3 days. The problem was after 1 month, my rankings suddenly dropped to page 5. At first, I thought I landed a penalty. But later on, while analyzing the link profile, I found out that most of the links from these private link networks no longer existed.
When I contacted the seller, he said to me that all his sites got de-indexed by Google and that he’ll give a discount on the new link network he has set up. Whatever happened to the guarantee that there are no footprints or these are aged domains and what not.
You know how these guys work? They scour forums looking for cheap PR 3+ domains. Then they immediately set it up using WordPress and put spun content on it. They have almost 3 months until the next PR update when most of their PR will drop. So what they do is, they start selling link packages claiming aged domains, valuable links.
Judging by the comments on their thread regarding orders made, I’d assume they’d have made anywhere between 5X to 50X profit from their link networks in 3 months. Then their link network gets busted and all are mass de-indexed. When users complain, they are offered a deep discount on the next network. What a great way to get repeat business!
This happened to me 3 years before and I no longer use these networks. But I still see such networks active on the forums I mentioned above. If you are doing SEO for a site you want to be around for a long time, or are doing SEO for your clients, never use private link networks unless it’s owned by you and you can ensure quality of each site.
Over to You:
What other link building methods do you suggest users not use? Let me know in the comments section.