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Getting Tangled Up in Link Networks is a Bad Idea

By: SmallBizClub

 

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Every once in a while, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, who is loved and loathed by SEOs in equal measure, will send out a tweet announcing that Google is taking action against a link network. Many webmasters (and not a few SEOs) are unsure exactly what a link network is. That hazy understanding can lead innocent site owners to pay money to unscrupulous types for a service that will bite them in the behind.

 
Links are awesome. We all want links. But how we go about getting them matters. Google wants us to get natural links given as a result of high-quality, useful, and relevant content. Creating good content is expensive and time-consuming, so some are tempted to take a shortcut. That’s understandable: if you’re selling shoes on your site, you are in the business of shoe selling, not publishing. Getting the links needed to secure a prominent search position is hard. But attempting to take a shortcut isn’t wise.
 
In basic terms, a link network is a huge collection of sites under the control of one person or company. Webmasters give the person behind the link network some money and in exchange they use their extensive site portfolio to create hundreds or thousands of links to the webmaster’s site.
 
Hopefully, the problem here is obvious. Google hates these links. They are useless for determining the value of the site at which they point. If they were ignored, Google’s search engine results pages would be brimming with spam.
 
That’s not to say that a “good” link networks aren’t effective. In the short term they can be. But then comes one of Cutt’s tweets announcing the death of another link network. When that happens, all of the links from sites that are part of the network are devalued. They become worthless: all the money that people paid to the network goes up in smoke—it’s not a sustainable method of search engine optimization. Even worse, if Google suspects that you’ve been buying links from a link network, they may choose to penalize your site too, which makes it a doubly bad idea.
 
And that’s the best scenario. Most link networks are extremely low quality and filled with spammy duplicate content of no use to real people. Outside of the link network, no one is going to link to that sort of content, so it’s likely that buying links from them is going to have a positive result.
 
If you want to take the risk of using a link network, there’s nothing to stop you. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines aren’t law. However, biting the bullet and investing in compelling content and social media outreach will produce the long-term return on investment that no link network can promise.
 
Author: Matthew Davis works as an inbound marketer and blogger for Future Hosting, a leading provider of VPS hosting. Follow Future Hosting on Twitter at @fhsales, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog, http://blog.nexcess.net/.
 
Published: June 24, 2014
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SmallBizClub.com is dedicated to providing small businesses and entrepreneurs the information and resources they need to start, run, and grow their businesses. The publication was founded by successful entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton. We bring you the most insightful thinking from industry leaders, veteran business owners, and fellow entrepreneurs. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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