Are You Building Risky Links for SEO?

Backlinks from other sites are one of the most precious commodities in search engine optimization (SEO). Each backlink acts as a vote of sorts, signaling to search engine algorithms that your page is worthy of ranking. 

No matter how many you have, you always need more links from high-quality sites. 

But there are ethical and risky ways to build links. We’ll cover the risky ones today — the ones that can cause search engines to ban your site from the rankings outright, or devalue it to the point where your pages won’t rank for anything your customers search for.

To be clear, I do not recommend these methods.

Risky Way #1: Buy Them

Do not buy links, unless you’re OK with losing your entire organic search channel’s performance. 

I get it: It’s tempting. You might get away with it short term using some network the search engines haven’t discovered yet. But they will; and when they do, your short-term gains will be wiped out in an instant. 

It’s a long, slow trudge to recover from your website getting banned. All the way along that road, you’re bleeding revenue. You’ll need to pay someone that specializes in cleaning up banned domains, and you won’t sell anything through organic search until they’re successful. 

Instead, you could abandon your domain and start again from scratch. Using this method can take even longer while you build a new link profile from zero. You’ll be tempted to buy links again to get the flow started — and if you give in to that temptation the cycle repeats itself.

Risky Way #2: Shoot for Quantity

Acquiring links is like medication: There’s a tendency to think, “If some is good, more must be better.” And that’s true, if the links are from high-quality sites.

Quality links are far more beneficial than large quantities of whatever easy backlink options you encounter. In fact, acquiring large quantities of links from low-quality sites can actually drag your link profile down rather than boost it up. Go for quality over quantity. It takes longer, but you’ll benefit more in the long run.

Some ways to stumble on high-quantity but low-quality links include:

  • Emails promising hundreds of links overnight;
  • Sites with poorly-written content;
  • Topically unrelated sites;
  • Low-quality directories, especially ones that have no contact information and require payment;
  • Article repositories that have become dumping grounds for tons of over-linked, poorly-written “SEO content;”
  • Press releases that don’t have legitimate news value, and are written more in the style of low-value articles;  
  • Low-quality guest blogging on topically irrelevant sites;
  • Link rings where Site A links to Site B; which then links to Site C; which in turn links back to Site A, forming a ring where each site receives one link.

Search engines sniff out these linking patterns algorithmically in an instant.

You can detect low-quality link opportunities using two simple gauges: 

  1. Would you naturally visit this site yourself to learn something or buy a product?
  2. If your best friend or best customer asked where to get information or purchase something, would you send them to this site?

If you answered no to either of these questions, you don’t want a link from that site. 

Even if you can risk losing your organic search performance for months, do you really want to? Taking shortcuts in SEO leads to — at best — short-term gains. Ethical SEO practices — including acquiring links from high-quality sites you can be proud of — are the only way to ensure long-term benefit for your business.

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