We all pay for services of one kind or another. We pay to have our trash picked up so we don’t have to haul it to the landfill ourselves. We may pay to have our yard mowed or our snow shoveled. We pay to have our hard drives cleaned up, our hair cut, and our tax returns completed. All of these are services that are considered time savers as a result of our own cost-benefit analysis.
Link building and quality content are both critical parts of any successful SEO program.
Strong link building takes time and effort; getting high quality sites to point their golden fingers at you (aka links) is part of the hard work that an internet marketing professional knows how to do effectively. The same with content – exceptional content is the coin of the realm in search.
It would seem natural, then, that since these components comprise such a critical part of getting your business found online, that a paid service to complete them for you would be a no brainer. Well, guess what. This can be a good example of “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.
Your online presence, visibility, relevance and reputation are based on not just what you do, but who you ‘hang out’ with. Search engines are robots, and they are linear thinkers. So, if your site is both linking to and linking from high quality, relevant sites in your industry, then you get a sort of Doris Day (or “White Hat” in SEO-speak) designation. If suddenly you are spending time with the bad boys, hanging out with strangers in your neighborhood with less-than-stellar reputations (or “Black Hat” in SEO-speak), that can change your reputation. The fact is, you are often known by the online company you keep, like it or not.
It’s simple – paid links can cause you headaches in a number of ways:
- Links to sites completely unrelated to yours – irrelevant links dilute your authority in the eyes of the search engines.
- Websites that are black-listed or have a history of problems can bring you down to their level.
- Link farms are illegal and you’ll be penalized if you’re associated with them. Period.
Best case scenario: Association with them reduces your rankings, and all the good sites you’ve earned links from will diminish in importance
Worst case scenario: Google says good-bye.
The same goes for content. Relevant search results are the Holy Grail of search. It’s all about giving each individual who is looking for an answer the one that is most closely aligned to what they’re looking for, and Google is the gold standard. Case in point was their Panda update this year, a laser-focused effort to reduce the amount of irrelevant results being returned for any given search.
No longer can content be lightweight, poor quality, or redundant – or created just to support advertising and earn a place in the mix. Quality control Google-style. These are not who you want to be associated with. Resolve to only utilize fresh relevant content, and be careful when link building through article marketing.
Be aware that link farming and content farming may sound quaint – organic in fact – but they aren’t. They’re risky and can do far more harm than good. So…do your cost benefit analysis and make an informed decision to practice smart online business development. From Albany to the Adirondacks and Upstate NY, successful SEO begins with hard work and White Hat search engine optimization strategies.