In a recent post on the increasingly popular and always intriguing question-and-answer site Quora, someone asked the following question:
Does a person who operates a link-building business just own a bunch of websites that link to client websites?
Here at Amplitude Digital, this is a topic that arouses a good bit of emotion and insight from us. And it’s also a topic that we’ve yet to address here at the official Amplitude Digital blog.
Until now, that is.
Over our many years in the ever-evolving, weird, wild and wooly worlds of digital marketing and SEO, we’ve consistently observed at least five types of “link builders.” Let’s take a closer look at each of these five, shall we?
The True Link Builders (Non-Outsourced):
These companies are the closest to anyone you would ever really want to hire to do this kind of work for you…possibly. They actually have a team of non-outsourced individuals who use tools, do the research, and reach out to various websites in your name to try and get the really nice, qualified, completely natural-looking link back to your content. The only iffy thing in this is that, well, it’s not completely natural – at least not in spirit – primarily because of the whole “aggression” factor.
The (Kinda) True Link Builders (Outsourced):
Very similar to the first group, but these guys use outsourced talent from cheap labor forces around the world to do the heavy lifting, outreach, etc. Due to these drastic cost-cutting measures, the quality is usually really sub-par, especially on the outreach side because of the language barrier. But the research usually isn’t much to scream about either.
The Completely Crap Link Builders:
These are the link builders who REALLY give link building a bad name. They prey primarily on the innocent and ignorant, and make just enough money to make themselves look legit. These are the folks that, to this day, even after the Penguin and other algo updates, are still doing crap like comment spam and a variety of other dumb, dastardly techniques. If your link builder won’t tell you what they’re doing, rest assured…THIS is what they’re doing.
The Link-Building Network:
These companies usually have a collection of sites, either of their own creation or comprised of “partners” they’ve worked with before, where they dump your links. The content is usually kinda sorta on topic if you’re lucky…but not always. These sometimes get called “Link Wheels” and a variety of other goofy names, but it’s really all the same junk. This is the type that Penguin REALLY went after hard, and they weren’t hard to spot.
The Link-Swapping Network:
This is usually a “solution” more than anything else. The customers join the network and put old-school “links” pages on their site that are mostly automated. The company running the network handles all the swap requests, and the clients just watch it all happen. The problem is, this just isn’t a really viable solution anymore…and hasn’t been since the turn of the century. You will get someplay out of this, for now…but I don’t suggest it as a long term solution.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, you’d best be served to avoid them all.
Instead, focus your time, energy and resources on creating great content on a properly built site that inspires readers to share links to your site – via social media and other sites – on their own accord. You may need to kickstart this process with some social media efforts of your own, but that’s not a bad thing…and all part of promoting your site anyway. Also, teach your PR person (or whomever is doing PR for your company) the proper way to link back to specific content on your site when they’re getting coverage for your company. These are the REAL money links for any organization.
Don’t sweat finding sites with “high PR” or “.edu” domains or any of that nonsense. Just focus on creating an awesome site. The rest will fall into place in time…and Google will stay off your back.
Simply put, this is just the right way to do things. Always has been. Always will be. Anything else is just not in the spirit of true, White Hat SEO…and if it’s not already caught algorithmically, it’s just a matter of time before it will be.
What do YOU think about this topic? Have you had any experiences with link-building or link builders that you’d like to share with us and our audience? If so, please let us know in the comments section below this blog post.
With over 25 years of online marketing experience, Jeff has led the online marketing efforts for companies such as Hilton Hotels, Kimberly-Clark, InterActiveCorp, Experian, and Napster. Honored as one of PPC Hero’s “Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts” for three years in a row, Jeff Ferguson is no stranger to industry speaking circuits throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. Jeff is a regular presenter at Ad:tech, AllFacebook Expo, Conversion Conference, eMetrics, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Digital Hollywood, Online Marketing Summit (OMS), Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and Search Engine Strategies (SES), where he also served as a member of the advisory board. Additionally, Jeff has volunteered his time for the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) and Digital Analytics Associations (DAA) on both the national and regional levels, where he serves as a board member of the Los Angeles chapter.