For many SEOs, acquiring backlinks for a website (of their own or a client’s) has become a matter of successful automation: a successful backlinking strategy would be to build as many links as possible in a short amount of time, preferably all or most with anchor text that matches exactly the keyword phrase they are competing for in the search result pages. And although it’s natural to do what we can to be most effective, this kind of things just doesn’t work anymore.
It’s been said many times: Search Engine Optimization is a marathon – meaning, it’s a slow and painful process; and if yours isn’t like it, then you’re probably doing something that won’t work in the long run. It’s called spam, and it comes in forms of content spam, website development spam or link spam. Here we are going to talk about spam techniques which are still being widely used by many search engine optimizers – and the reasons why you shouldn’t be using them.
What is web spam
Any linkbuilding method can be done one way or the other. Spam is, so to speak, the “lowest” form of linkbuilding that pushes quantity over quality of links: links are being built where ever possible disregarding context and relevance, without adding value to the Internet as a whole. Spammy behavior can be found in guest blogging as easily as in forum profiles; it’s not exclusively tied to any method, although some have been more misused than others.
Why is that bad? Well, because of the bad user experience, for one: imagine a mom who reads an article about baby diapers and finds a sentence with a link to “best used cars” (or worse), or poor forum members who get bombarded with irrelevant links in the middle of a serious discussion. Second, it’s bad for the website that’s been promoted this way: heard of Panda, Penguin and other “animals” of Google? They don’t like this kind of behavior, and they are fighting against it.
Most commonly misused linkbuilding techniques
Forum profiles. Registering on a forum just to leave a link in your profile or post is probably the most hated form of spamming. Even though Google has devalued such links years ago, people continue to do it, thinking that a ton of links from different forums will significantly improve their rankings. Most forum moderators have zero tolerance for new users who act suspiciously and these links soon get deleted, but they are still an annoyance for the regular members.
How to do it right: If you’re an active member who regularly participates in forum discussions and helps others, then it’s all right to have a link to your website in your signature, and even to include it in your post when it’s relevant. Of course, you can’t be active in dozens or even hundreds of forums, so choose a few quality ones. This will do some good for your SEO, but more important, you will get visitors to your website who are actually interested in what you have to offer.
Blog commenting. Another easy way to leave a link back to your website is by commenting on other people’s blog posts. Serious bloggers hate this, because hundreds and thousands of spammy links on their pages are draining value out of their posts and often disturbing other visitors because these comments don’t add any real value to the posts.
How to do it right: Choose blogs within your niche or posts with a topic relevant to yours, read them and leave a meaningful comment. “This is great, thanks” and that kind of comments have no value for blogger (if you really want to compliment him or her, share the post on Facebook or Twitter – it will mean much more to them than you saying thanks).
Article marketing. For a long time distribution of articles with a link in them was a successful method of promoting a website; only, to get more links, SEOs would spin the existing articles, and basically submit the same one over and over again, and in many cases the spun articles were impossible to read. Today, Google is much smarter, so they don’t count these articles anymore (almost), and even the directories that publish them are mostly de-indexed (meaning, as good as non-existent in the eyes of Google).
How to do it right: There’s another form of article marketing that is much harder to do, but also much more valuable – guest posting. It’s still about distributing your articles (which is legitimate form of promotion by itself), but the articles must be unique, well written and approved by the blog owner.
We have covered only the most notorious techniques, but there are many more to work with. If you’re interested in the long term benefits from linkbuilding for your website or blog, general rule of thumb would be: the more effort you put in to build a link, the more value it will have.
Jeff Gross is a SEO consultant who firmly believes that “white hat” is the only way to do search engine optimization. He is contributing to many blogs and websites, and besides from his company, he is associated with a number of other projects, one of them being Serijskiubojica.hr