So you’ve been digging around in this SEO stuff a little while, and you’ve learned that having backlinks = good search engine rankings. Maybe you’ve even heard that you can buy backlinks — dozens or even hundreds of them — and you’re thinking that if having some backlinks is good, having lots of backlinks must be great! So now, your biggest questions are “where can I buy backlinks?” and “how do I know I’m getting a good deal?”
Backlinks are a pretty simple concept. Any time a website links to your website, we call it a backlink. They are important because Google cares a lot that the websites that make it to the top of the search engine results are the ones that are the MOST authoritative who give their users the BEST answers to their questions. Google cares about this so much that they continuously tweak their algorithms to make sure that this is the case. The websites that are linked to from other websites must be the ones that have the best information, and therefore carry the most authority.
Google is fierce about protecting the authenticity of their query results, and they have a laundry list of practices that they call “link scheming” which violate their guidelines. Violating Google’s guidelines is Not. Good. More about that in a moment. Furthermore, this idea that more = better is misguided. In the backlinks game, quality wins over quantity every time. Google has ways of assessing the integrity of the sites linking to yours just like it assesses your site’s quality. If you have 500 links from crappy sites, known link farms, etc., not only will that undermine YOUR site’s credibility, it will tip Google off that you’ve been buying links and otherwise violating their guidelines.
If Google catches you — and sooner or later, they will — the penalties are severe. These can range from losing your rankings for 6 months to never being able to use your URL again. Oh, and before you think, “Oh, I’ll just get a new URL and start over,” you should know that Google keeps track of who owns what domain name. If you’ve been blacklisted, odds are good that they will be watching your new web properties to see if you continue using black hat techniques.
While it’s true that black hat techniques like link-buying may get you results in the short-term, eventually Google is going to figure you out. They have a variety of ways to root out these sorts of things. I mean, let’s think about it: this is the company that can identify every constellation and planetary body you can point your phone at AND the one that can pull up a picture of your house, your auntie’s house in Tennessee, and the house you grew up in in El Centro, CA just by putting in the street name. They have way more resources than you do. Bottom line? Don’t. Buy. Backlinks… Ever. It’s worth noting that there are times when it may be necessary to pay a fee to be listed in a directory on another site, and this is technically considered a backlink. In these cases, the focus is on getting referral traffic from a relevant, credible industry directory site, and Google views this very differently from the kind of link scheming we are discussing in this article.
Companies that sell links use a lot of industry jargon and a dash of fear to convince their audience that the best and only way to be competitive in the search engines is to buy links. They will tell you that they use a good mix of authoritative sites or they’ve perfected methods that keep them under Google’s radar. Don’t believe it. You will give these people your hard-earned money, and they might — MIGHT — getting you some good rankings for awhile. But when you get caught and penalized, you won’t be able to reach this company and you will be stuck with the consequences.
Absolutely! Backlinks are super important and the way to do it is to produce fresh, original, informational content regularly and publish it as widely as possible. Let’s say you write a great article that provides valuable information relevant to your industry. Google loves this type of thing! You publish this article on your blog, and then share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Twitter. People see it, read it, like it and comment on it. These are valuable social signals that lead to more people seeing it and reading it. These people share it and reference it in their own articles. Now you have backlinks to your site. Repeat this process over and over again, be patient, and you will gain traction in your search engine rankings… and you will have done it authentically, so you won’t have to worry about getting caught.
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