Link building. It’s time-consuming, often confusing and sometimes downright tedious. Plenty of even the most “expert” of content creators just wish that it wasn’t necessary, that the search engines would start paying less attention to who is linking to a piece.
But that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Links are still the easiest way for a search engine bot to determine the importance and trustworthiness of any site on the Web.
Content quality has become far more important than it was perhaps before the coming of the great Google Panda back in 2011, but links are still an important ranking factor whatever your niche, and needing good links to help build the traffic a website needs to survive will probably never go away.
Bad link building techniques can kill your website’s reputation with search engines very quickly. They can also kill your personal reputation and that of your business. Some bad link building results from a person’s lack of knowledge while some is downright black hat and very naughty. But almost always it is also because we all want link building to be quick and easy.
Here are five ways you can build links that, while easy, will almost ensure you devalue your site and ruin your own rep. Which I’m fairly sure is not something you want.
Go wild with directory submissions
Submit your URL to hundreds of questionable free directories no one has ever heard of as these days as it’s a great way to attract some really rotten links. These faux directories themselves have very poor rankings as the majority of them are filled with spam now (sad but true, as some were once decent resources). This is a great way to devalue your site in the eyes of the search engines because you are hanging in a bad neighborhood.
There are still some business directories that are very valuable for SEO. If you don’t know which those are take the time to find out. Or hire someone who does to do directory submissions for you.
Play badly in forums
Join a bunch of forums and create a forum signature that is crammed with links. Then ask the same question in a dozen different forums. Find yourself banned from every decent on-topic forum because you are a spammer. The admins who run good forums do talk to each other, and word about spammers tends to travel fast.
Forum commenting is one of the oldest SEO tactics in the book yet, surprisingly perhaps, can still be effective when done right, especially for niche businesses. But, if you can’t add value to the discussions, or present yourself as a source of knowledge or information, don’t bother at all.
Try to con Quorans
Create a couple of Quora accounts. Use one to post a question about where to get the best information about (X) when information about (X) is exactly what your business offers. Wait a day, go back with another Quora account and answer your own question with–surprise! – a link back to your own site. And do it all from the same IP address. Wait another day and then go back and find your accounts suspended and your links removed.
Quora is valuable for SEO. But as the links are no-follow (did you even know that?), they are mainly useful as a way to drive traffic. Quora is also a great way to boost your own E.A.T score as well as that of your company, but only if you play the game nicely and don’t try to cheat.
Become 'that guy' in the blog comments
When blog commenting, do nothing but plug your site. Add absolutely no value to the conversation. Don’t even bother to read the blog post you are commenting on, just add “nice post dude” everywhere. You should also make sure to sign your post with a spammy keyword-stuffed “name” not your own.
Wait a while, and watch as you become the object of hatred of every good blogger in your niche. However, on the upside, some of them might even include you in a post – a post about how much they hate spammers.
Let someone else do what they like
Follow the example of a really big company. Hire an over-ambitious SEO firm to build links for you. Don’t pay any attention to what they are doing; just keep throwing money at them. Suddenly rank for ALL your keywords and even some you had never even thought of. Rejoice.
Then, a few months later, cringe in horror as you are exposed to the world by the New York Times for link buying, search engine manipulation and link farming. Well maybe you won’t make the New York Times, but it never hurts to dream…
Outsourcing your SEO is fine. In fact, it’s a great idea. But only ever work with an SEO agency who are completely transparent about what they do and why they are doing it. If they tell you not to worry about something, that it’s a ‘technical SEO thing’ run because that kind of talk is something to worry about a lot.