Backlinking is under the search engine scanner due to certain types of widespread link spamming. Webmasters have been using questionable linking practices designed to artificially create large numbers of backlinks to a website, with the aim of boosting its rankings.
All across the web, this has been a practice which is only now losing steam with heavy penalties being levied on those who are still adopting such unethical methods. These web masters are out of touch with the latest and most current SEO trends. They use link spam knowingly and unscrupulously to achieve a short-term ranking boost for their client websites, totally ignoring the consequence of the resulting penalties by search engines.
The severe penalties levied by search engines can totally destroy a website’s rankings and result in the loss of a huge amount of money and time. Recovering from this downgraded level is not easy for old and established websites, let alone new ones.
Why Did Link Spamming Start?
In the early days of the internet, links became a means of ranking websites for search engines. The more pages that linked to a website, the higher it ranked. It was understood that a website has more links because it has better, valuable, more relevant, highly useful and topical content. Each link was regarded as a virtual vote for a website’s quality.
This caused a spate of link spamming techniques to crop up across the web, since it became obvious that the easiest route to ranking higher up in search results is to have larger number of links. Aggressive internet marketers looking to make quick money started offering services that created numerous cheap backlinks to sites of their clients. Thus, links began to be manufactured artificially through link spams, of which the most widespread are listed below:
Over time, numerous sites popped up on the internet that started accepting articles from all and sundry; providing a certain number of backlinks per article. These articles were mostly low-quality and often even machine-generated. This article marketing tool turned into a boon for article spammers who did not want to pay for quality writing. They kept finding innovative techniques to reduce the cost per link.
Now, there are very few article directories that can confer a ranking benefit. This is after actions like Google going to the very source and de-indexing low-end article directories. No longer is it possible to rank highly with backlinks using mass article spamming. Quality is again more important than quantity and one needs to write original, useful content.
Network of Blogs
There are website groups or blog networks that exist only for accepting any submitted content and doling out links. Often these are sites belonging to online marketers who create artificial linking to their paying or money site. Some blog networks offer paid memberships for the same services.
In contrast to legitimate blogs by individuals or companies that have something valuable to share, the spamming network of blogs are designed to accept cheap posts and dish out links.
Again, Google has been uncovering these blog networks and penalizing them. These blogs are being blacklisted and de-indexed; even the websites to which these blogs backlink and who are using their services are being penalized. As in the case of articles, mass distribution is not going to work here too. It is important to remember that topical, original content rich and genuine blogs still hold immense authority in search engines.
Free Web Directories
Free Web Directories list websites with a small site description and backlink. Thousands of low quality web directories exist which are being used by link spammers. Only a few high qualities among the free and many paid directories can help boost rankings.
Numerous forums across the web are being used as sources of link spams. Bogus profiles are created with false information and links are placed in these sham posts. The profile signatures are also a spurious means of creating links.
Now, these forum links have been recognized by search engines for the unethical practice that they are. Forums are now almost entirely useless and results in no ranking benefits.
Paid Site-Wide Links
Site-wide links are an arrangement where high ranking websites sell site-wide links on their website and charge a hefty fee. These links are commonly placed in the footer or navigation bar.
This practice too has faced a major crack-down from search engines as they are easy to detect. As a result paid site-wide links have lost value and buying them in bulk can even attract penalties.
All the poor backlinking techniques mentioned here are now considered “Black Hat” which simply means that Google and other search engines will recognize them as a deliberate means of creating high number of links and are therefore liable for penalization.
The penalty by search engines is severe and can have an overnight impact on a website’s ranking. These methods may work in the short term, but for long-term rankings it is best to avoid them rather than regret later.
It is high time for companies to realize that quality matters in SEO. Only hire firms that are up-to-date on the latest SEO information. Only legitimate “White Hat” links can now sustain high rankings for websites.