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The Dangers of Shady Link Building

Mar 20, 2008
Link building is a great way to increase your website popularity and establish your piece of the digital landscape in the SERPs (search engines results pages).

But you need to be aware of the risks of linking to off-topic or websites that are strictly thinking of linking in terms of sheer numbers (quantity vs. quality). In fact, recently in the news, according to the new Google webmaster guidelines, reciprocal linking is grounds for dismissal from the index.

Utilizing common sense and due diligence when selecting and approving link partners is essential. It is not to say, don't trade links with anyone out of fear, it simply means keep it on topic and focus on quality.

Otherwise, just as if you go to a bad neighborhood in the real world, less than favorable things can happen, the same rule applies online.


Some of us just can't pass up a good deal, right?. Whenever you hear a claim that is too good to be true, it probably is. Here's one you may have seen like "get thousands of back links to your website for only $39.95 per month", may as well say "pay me now until your website is banned and the shady company packs up shop and hit the next batch of webmasters eager to cheat the system". The point I emphasize is, don't fall for link schemes.

If getting page rank were that easy, then most corporations with bottomless pockets would have a page rank of 11 by now (on a scale or 1-10). Which is why a ranking method has been instilled in the latest page rank update that is more scrupulous and diplomatic when handing out the reward of increased page rank.

Although your best efforts to develop link popularity can sometimes seem frustrating, taking a short-cut to the top (just for the sake of a little green bar) is also a red flag to search engine algorithms.

Just like an umpire with x-ray vision, the algorithm only calls it the way it sees it (when your site mysteriously has a deluge of fresh new backlinks pointing at your site). You know you have been banned when "you experience symptoms of your rankings fluctuating and then dropping like an 800 lb. gorilla who just slipped on a banana peel", or you cannot find your website even using the exact match using your company name. This is a tragic moment, I assure you. The point being, the risk vs. reward factor for the potential of higher rankings is simply too steep.

If you happen to get banned, you can file a re-inclusion request and pray that the person on the other end is in a great mood that day. From your side, make sure that you apologize for violating the terms of service for the search engine (sincerely). Make sure the situation that caused the abuse has been remedied, and then in a few weeks see if your site appears in the SERPs after 4-6 weeks, if not then send a follow up re-inclusion request.

But without even having to go down that road, it's better to be safe than sorry, so use protection when linking to others, with all this "link love" and "link juice" floating around, you have to be careful in this day and age.
About the Author
Jeffrey L. Smith is an seasoned search engine optimization expert and founder of SEO Design Solutions Chicago Search Engine Optimization Company. Jeffrey has been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings fresh optimization methods and SEO Services to businesses seeking organic search engine placement.
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