PubCon – Unjust Link Buying Worries

    December 6, 2007

So Worried that You Forgot to Compete

While on the link buying panel at WebmasterWorld’s Pubcon a few people were pushing that you might need to consider how Google will view your current link buys 5 years down the road, and that they may hurt you then for what you do now. Upon hearing that I said something like "less than 5 years ago I bought spammy links and if I did not I probably wouldn’t be speaking here right now". That got a cheer from the crowd. Who wants to be worried about what Google thinks or does 5 years from now? That is no way to innovate or take marketshare from current market leaders.

Reviewing Result Quality

When engineers view your site they don’t just look at "if you have a few spammy links" but they try to consider the quality of user experience and the ratio of clean links to dirty links. If your site is good and ranks for years then you are going to get many natural links that dwarf any spammy links that were part of your site launch.

Building a Real Business

If your business model is entirely reliant on Google 5 years from now, your user experience is sub-par, and you haven’t built up any brand equity after ranking for 5 years then there was not much effort put into building a legitimate business, and it deserves to fail. But the sites that rank get self reinforcing exposure. If SEO is part of your brand building and site building strategy you simply can not sit around waiting for the rankings to come in.

Inferior Sites Ranking #1

It is easy to lack objectivity when talking of the quality of your site, but in some fields I compete in, many of the top ranked competing sites are ran by people buying a slew of spammy links and pointing them at their (quite obviously) English second language sites. Because they rank, those sites get some number of self reinforcing links. If I did nothing but create great content they would still outrank my site. You have to buy marketshare in one way or another (public relations, AdWords, link buying) if you are trying to gain marketshare and your market is competitive.

Who Buys Links & Uses Push Marketing to Buy Marketshare?

That does not mean that I am an advocate of bad user experience or poor quality content, but if you care about SEO and have a new site in an old market, user experience and content quality are not enough unless you do some push marketing at launch. AOL sent out millions of spammy CDs to market their service.

  • Google pushes their logo onto ads they distribute all over the web, has the largest push ad network on the web, has some of the dirtiest domain traffic partners (many cybersquatters), recommend infidelity, and bundle Google Checkout usage with lower ad prices and free links.
  • Yahoo! has an in house SEO team and a few years ago Yahoo! was one of the leading link buyers.
  • IAC buys a ton of links and aggressively cross links their sites.
  • Microsoft has got in trouble for launching new products by bundling them with their old products and steals traffic by sending traffic to their live search product.
  • owns a ton of thin lead generation sites.
  • eBay pays affiliates to spam Google.
  • One of Google’s large ad distribution partners tried setting up a deal with me to rank their ads in Google’s search results using aggressive black hat spammy techniques, in which I declined to participate in.

We Don’t Write the Algorithms (or Hand Edit Search Results)

As an SEO you simply give the engines what they want. Looking at what they rank and how they market their sites gives you better insights for how to rank than blindly trusting the tips they give you to prevent you from ranking and suggesting you buy their ads. All of the web portals you know and love use push marketing to build their businesses. Why shouldn’t you?