Want to risk all your SEO efforts in one easy step? Buy backlinks.

dangerous seo practices

There is a reason why paying for SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization)  is a good idea and that can be summed up in two words: it’s complicated.

SEO professionals have a full-time job simply staying on top of Google changes. Not to mention the incredible amount of time it takes to actually do SEO the right way. Anyone who says it can be done quickly, easily, and cheaply is lying. Plain and simple. But it’s not always that easy to spot. Many shady companies will focus on single things and spam small business owners because they know the average small business owner is unaware of what actually goes into SEO at all, let alone good SEO.

Case in point: Emails like this …

bad seo

This one actually landed in my inbox as most spammers don’t even bother to weed out web development companies who might know b.s. when they see it.

Small business owners are being told by unscrupulous companies that things like buying backlinks is a, “very effective service to improve your linkbase and SEO metrics” and that is the furthest thing from the actual truth.

Let me share with you the scam going on here …

This shady company buys domains, throws up a quick website and puts a link to your company site on this page. Nothing about it is “real” except for the fact that yes, you will have links pointing back to your website from these sites. The important part is there is no real value here in the eyes of Google.

Google considers buying backlinks grounds for penalizing your site.

This comes directly from Google (and you can read the full run down here):

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.

The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:

I had a client find out well after the fact of hiring an SEO company that somewhere along the link, someone had set up a link scheme and their website was getting penalized in rankings without the business owner ever being aware of it. They were being shown automated “reports” that they didn’t fully understand but made it seem like positive things were happening with their website’s SEO. It took months for this to come to light. After all the technical optimization we were doing on the actual website and external marketing wasn’t getting anywhere, I stepped in to do some serious digging on behalf of this client because I had an inkling something nefarious was afoot. Happily, this particular client is now working with a reputable SEO company who, in a matter of months, was able to get everything back on track after the site was taking a hit because of a bad linking scheme.

But that’s the thing – this sort of scheme can go under the radar of the average small business owner and even professionals who aren’t specifically looking for it and engaged in checking rankings and digging deeper on a regular basis (hence the part about good SEO being a full-time job).

If there’s one thing in the world of SEO that really gets to me, it’s people who take advantage of small businesses. So when I can educate folks and shine a light on something that could hurt their business, I certainly will.

Backlinks are still important.

This is one of those two-edged swords of SEO; certain backlinks will hurt you, but others can really help and Google does consider them a ranking factor. We’ve already covered the type that hurt above, so what about the good backlinks? It’s all about quality.

Brian Dean of backlinko.com has put together a really great explanation and step-by-step process about getting good backlinks with, “How to Get High Quality Backlinks in 2019 (7 New Strategies)”. I highly recommend giving that a read and you’ll understand a lot more about how to do backlinks the right way.

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Sherry Holub


Sherry Holub

I'm a creative problem-solver driven by the desire to see small businesses improve their image and succeed. I've got over 20 years experience and have worked with clients as large as Nike and as small as a local sole-proprietor. I've been an advocate for education, a member of prestigious design organizations, won awards, and been invited to judge design competitions. Over the years, I have also written blogs and articles for a number of online sites and print publications. I have a heavy background in art, photography, graphic design and thinking outside the box.

When not working, you'll find me getting outdoors, practicing Qi Gong, snowboarding, camping, collecting rocks, and driving around in a sweet 1970 Camaro.

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