Posted On Monday, December 21, 2020
Author: David Armitage (Technical Director)
Backlinks are links to pages on your site that come from other websites. The quantity and quality of your backlinks is a huge factor in how Google ranks you for search results. If you have lots of links from high authority websites then part of that authority will be passed on to your site. A link from an industry relevant magazine's busy and reputable website to a page on yours is excellent for example, while going and spamming your agricultural recruitment site in the comment section of a ‘how to twerk’ blog piece won’t do anything to help.
Any active manipulation of these links is considered “black hat” (naughty) by Google though, even emailing other site owners, asking them to link to your site, technically goes against Google policy (they never find out!). Search engines want all links to be organic and well earned as to authentically reflect a page's value to its visitors.
What you will most likely be buying are links to your site, embedded within an article of gibberish that was formed by putting some of your own content through a “spinner”. This is a tool that takes text and replaces words within it with synonyms and common phrases or word combinations with alternatives, shitting out a semantically senseless mess of word salad that hopefully still retains some sort of relevancy. They do this so as to avoid Google sensing that it is a duplicate of content it already has indexed elsewhere, which it would then just ignore. This is so you can’t just copy and paste articles from other sites and reap benefits from plagiarism.
“And what sites are they using to link to me?” I hear you scream. Well, they have probably spent quite a bit of time buying up lots of rubbish domain names, installing the base version of Wordpress on them with the default template and just filling them up with a mixture of barely-human-readable blog articles that reflect their client base. Expect to find your uniquely mangled articles between a couple of pieces on subjects you probably wouldn’t want your recruitment agency to be associated with like ‘Cryptocurrency Trading Tips’ or ‘Penis Improving Pharmaceutical-esque Products!’.
By creating a large network of these sites, structured in a way that they believe will pass authority around between them, they aim to eventually build up the authority of the whole network and in turn, the sites they link out to. In actuality, the only real thing this network gives them is a long list of domain names to use in a report they may send to you on a monthly basis to give you the sense that they are doing something.
The truth is, backlink building can be a truly dark art and I have no doubt that there are some super smart people out there who can build backlinks, en masse, in a way that has a positive effect on your ranking using strategies undetectable by Google. But those people are few and far between. And regardless, ask anyone who has been following SEO for only a couple of years and they will tell you that what worked then, might not work now. So that super smart person could do a year of (paid) work for you, see improvements and then Google makes one change and your search traffic drops to zero. The only strategy that has proven to perform consistently is doing things properly and not trying to cheat the system. That’s the strategy we recommend.