Shady linkbuilding scams, cautions and warnings
Linkbuilding is one of those topics that everyone knows is a bit dodgy but still does it because in many cases it’s the only way to get decent ranking.
This isn’t an article on how to do linkbulding or on how select a company to do it for you. It is just an article on things to consider. But be very clear about one thing:
No one can promise a #1 ranking on any of the search engines
Google warns that: No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Unless of course you want to be #1 for ‘elephant trunk warmers in Boise Idaho’. Any number of websites warn of these claims. Some examples here:
- Rand Fishkin: Why Reputable SEO Firms Don’t Promise Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings
- Big mouth SEO: How Do You Choose an SEO Company
- Jill Whalen: Paying for Penalties: Lies That Shady SEO Companies Tell
So with this in mind, here are few things to watch out for:
Avoid directory submissions
Once the mainstay of the linkbuilding industry, directory submissions and now mainly pointless.
Google says: “Directory entries are often mentioned as another way to promote young sites in the Google index. There are great, topical directories that add value to the Internet. But there are not many of them in proportion to those of lower quality. If you decide to submit your site to a directory, make sure it’s on topic, moderated, and well structured. Mass submissions, which are sometimes offered as a quick work-around SEO method, are mostly useless and not likely to serve your purposes”.
In any case, you won’t be submitted to a directory, it’s more likely to be some link farm pretending to be a directory. These are some examples:
This isn’t just a random bunch of ‘directories’, these were places a linkbuilding company submitted a client’s site to. Some of them aren’t even directories! Note as well that they say ‘submit’ not ‘add’. Submission doesn’t mean you will be accepted.
SEOMoz did some excellent analysis on the dangers of directory submissions.
And in 2014, even the Halifax Building Society got clobbered
Avoid article submissions
Don’t get sucked into the article submission trap. You will get spun articles that have zero value and end up on junk free for all submission sites. In fact be very wary of all article sites – many have been hammered by Google because they were used for link building.
Avoid guest blogging
Be wary of anyone offering guest blogging as a link building service. After the article submission crash everyone has jumped on the guest blogging bandwagon and you now have hundreds of low quality blog posts appearing on hundreds of bottom feeding sites.
Like this example: www.socialh.com/successful-website/.
A well written guest blog post on a respected and authorative site is pure link gold. But you won’t get this, all you will get is rubbish like the example above. And it won’t be long before Google catches up and throws the whole lot out.
Social Media is not good SEO
Steer clear of those who promote social media. Especially social media profiles. People use SM to be social. If your profile suddenly gets added to a whole raft of social sites, forums and whatever without any supporting activity it looks wrong to the users of that site and wrong to the search engines.
Same applies to those who will twitter on your behalf, add you to 10,000 google+ circles, run a facebook page or promise thousands of followers. None of these are going to help your ranking.
Adverts are not the same a ranking
Adverts are not the same thing as getting first position in Google . There are those who promise the #1 spot and make that #1 spot an advert. Duh! You end up paying a monthly fee for some advert nobody ever clicks on because the only people who ever see it are you and the bloke in the pub you showed it to.
SEO is rarely ethical or white hat
Don’t believe anyone who tells you their link building is white hat, ethical or meets Google’s guidelines. It isn’t. The very fact that you are attempting to manipulate the search engine results is against the rules. I don’t have a problem with this – but don’t try to pretend it’s all above board.
Google warns that: “Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme”. And any link schemes are to be avoided.
SEO is not just about link building
Don’t pay for SEO if all they want to do is link building. Most SEO work has nothing to do with link building. There are over 200 ranking signals used by Google. Links are just one of them. Good links will boost your site. But link building can raise a flag and get you a penalty or get you banned.
If you read the Google SEO guide (PDF) most of it doesn’t even mention link building. If an SEO provider service includes on site optimisation make sure you know what you are getting, it may only include the homepage and even then just the page title. If they even mention the metatags the alarm bells should go off as they have virtually no ranking benefit.
However some SEO companies will create an automated report of your site to lure you in. 99% of the report is complete tosh. One SEO company produced a report for a site that doesn’t even exist!
If you do emply someone to do linkbuidling ask to see a report of the links they are building. Check those links. If they can’t provide you with a report or the report doesn’t list the links then it probably means they aren’t of the best quality (or they don’t even exist).
Don’t let any one add anything to your site
Don’t let anyone add a blog, links page, resource layer or anything else to your site. Ever. Because all the normal link building methods are being hammered by Google some SEO companies are adding a hidden blog to your site. This is complete garbage. Google specifically advises against these doorway pages. At best it’s a waste of time and at worst it can get you penalised.
Nothing wrong with them working on the content and navigation (internal links can be very powerful) but let them do it on the existing site not some hidden pages you don’t have any control over.
It’s not just me saying this
I don’t do link building. I don’t do much SEO either come to that. But I’m capable of reading and doing research which is why I wrote this post. I know some good people who will help you with ranking. They don’t do linkbuilding either. What they will do is make sure you are ranking for the things that make you money rather than take your money and use the methods listed above.