Links and link building can be worse than a punch in the face

Posted by Dave CollinsSEO

What you’re about to read may not excite you.

But you should take it seriously.

It could save you far more money than you’re prepared to throw away.

But before that, I need to give you an over-simplified history of SEO.

Don’t let this put you off. You need to know this.

If not today, then at some point in the future.

A very, very, very brief history of SEO

The Initial Phase:

Google initially used links as an important signal to gauge a website’s relevance.

Links were essentially considered votes of popularity, leading to higher rankings and more traffic.

The Adjustment Phase:

Google realised the system was being abused.

So the algorithm was refined to distinguish between high-quality links and those of lesser value. High-quality were still of benefit, while lesser value were ignored.

The Penguin Update:

Google realised that ignoring dodgy links wasn’t enough, so began penalising websites that engaged in questionable link activities.

This meant that not only could low-quality links fail to boost rankings, they could actively harm a site’s visibility in the search results.

This could be devastating for a website’s traffic from Google.

If their Penguin machine decided that a website violated their rules, they responded with a penalty.

And the worst-case scenario was that a website could see their organic traffic dry up.


Sometimes to zero visitors a day.

Link building can feel a little like punching yourself in the face. It hurts.

Until recently, I thought that link-building was a thing of the past.

It turns out that I was wrong.

Which is why I’m writing this warning.

If you ever consider paying for links, link-building, a link-exchange, link silos or any other scheme with the word link in, don’t.

It doesn’t matter whether the link building is safe, invisible, undetectable, ingenious or guaranteed.

It can hurt you.

It can really hurt you.

But here’s the big mistake that people are still making today. You might be one of those people.

You may think that the risks are worthwhile.

That years of gaining from the strategy will make the aftermath a price worth paying.

After all, you’re not breaking any laws. You’re just gaming the system.

So a Google slap in a few years time will probably be worth everything you gain between now and then.

But this is so very wrong.

Over the years, we’ve worked with several companies to help them recover from link penalties.

For them, the pain wasn’t reasonable. It wasn’t proportionate.

It was devastating.

Worse than that – it was devastating and self-inflicted.

Link building can be painful - and deadly. And it feels when it's self-inflicted.

One of these companies used to think that around 40-50% of their sales came from Google.

It turned out that this figure was closer to the 85-90% mark.

The drop in traffic from Google was almost overnight.

The drop in sales took less than 10 days to kick-in.

Once we started to fix the problem for them, the decline in sales took more than four months to start to recover.

You might read this, and be thinking of some of your competition, who appear to be doing the same thing and getting away with it.

I understand how annoying that would be.

And you might think that if they get away with it, why should you play it safe?

The answer is 85-90%.


Link building is bad.

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