This post relates a little to my post a couple of weeks ago ‘Is Spam Here to Stay?‘. Since then, The New York Times revealed that a leading American retailer, JC Penney was using paid, spam backlinks to inflate their rankings, & it was working for them. You can read more about it here: The Dirty Little Secrets of Search.
What’s a bit of a coincidence is that last week I was doing some research for a client, reviewing some competitors’ backlinks and they all had a similar theme – spam! I was researching the office furniture industry and I reviewed the backlinks of several sites. I was surprised at how many of them had very poor quality links from shoddy looking sites, some totally unrelated to their industry and some had obviously paid for links. What stood out was that the anchor text of some of these links included their main target keywords, in this case ‘office furniture’ or similar. The reason I was researching these sites was that they all ranked very well for the target keywords, which are also quite competitive. Most of these sites had thousands of links pointing to their site as well.
Gaining good quality links isn’t easy, although I pointed out a few easier ways of gaining links in my post last week, 5 Quick & Easy Link Building Tips. (Econsultancy also recently wrote an article on the same subject ‘51 essential link building tips‘). To get thousands of links like these sites had, the sites had to be using link farms or automated link building to get that many links on low quality sites.
This makes me ask two questions:
Why get links from such low quality sites?
Do they really care which sites links to them?
To answer the first question, the only reason they wanted these links was to inflate their link popularity and boost rankings. A large part of the way search engines rank sites is incoming links or ‘link popularity’ (however, usually it’s quality over quantity), so doing this would help them to rank highly for their search terms, particularly if the anchor text of the link contained their target keyword. Links on these sites certainly wouldn’t drive any traffic as it’s highly unlikely anyone would ever visit them, and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t stay on these sites for long. So these links certainly weren’t for the traffic!
And do they care where their links come from? Obviously not! Brand reputation wasn’t even considered when these links were obtained. I have many fussy clients who wouldn’t want their sites anywhere near the low quality sites these links were on. However, in fairness, some brands probably have no clue about the link building tactics their ‘seo’ company may be using. I’ll save that for another post.
It seems that for a lot of websites, rankings have been more important than the tactics used to gain them or their brand reputation, clearly demonstrated by the fact they didn’t care what type of site their website was appearing on.
Hopefully Google’s new clamp down on spam will demonstrate that using these tactics isn’t going to get you very far, and can damage your reputation in the long run!
Have you ever been tempted to list your website somewhere for the sake of a link rather than the quality of the website?