I’ve frankly lost count of the number of times we have seen companies make the headlines for purchasing paid links in order to manipulate search engines. One of the most recent and best examples was earlier in 2011 when J.C. Penney was penalized by Google for buying a bunch of low quality text links to rank for all kinds of consumer products for the 2010 Christmas shopping season. You can read more about it over at SearchEngineLand. In the end, like so many other cases before it the link buying scheme hurt more than it helped. Of course they used the old “missing man” excuse saying that the SEO company they hired devised and executed this plan without their consent or knowledge. Maybe so, but if it’s true, isn’t that almost worse? Let’s dive in more deeply to the definition of a paid link. Per Google it is:
In case it’s still not crystal clear, basically what paid links are is the equivalent of buying votes in an election. If you consider a link a vote and the office you are running for as being the #1 position in Google for a specific term. The more votes (links) you get, the more likely you are to win the election. Of course, someone else could be out there buying votes as well and the Internet World is a big place with plenty of lower quality sites that are more than happy and in fact exist solely for the purpose of selling links (votes). Now just like politicians that don’t really deserve to win the election on the merits of their campaign, websites that fix the search engine “elections” also don’t deserve to reap the benefits and power that holding the #1 position in Google affords them. When that occurs and Google finds out, the sites are penalized and effectively removed from office just like a dirty politician would be ousted for fixing an election.
So what’s the answer? Well, you need to run a clean campaign (a clean SEO campaign). Your site should produce super high quality and unique content that helps the user get exactly what they expect when they search Google for a particular term. In fact, we should all be far more concerned with the sincerity and quality of the site content as a critical part of our campaigning efforts. We need to collect votes (links) the honest way. If we provide great content that other website owners find interesting, they will naturally link to us. Now, we of course have to make sure that we make them aware of the content just like any good politician has to do with voters. We need to reach out to them and let them know what our site stands for and then let them decide if we deserve their vote (link). We should also expect them to hold us to our campaign promises and always be aware of the fact that if we use under-handed tactics we eventually will be held accountable for our actions or lack thereof.← 11 Ways to Write an Article Nobody Will Read | 10 Ways to Take Advantage of Local Search Listings →
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