Link Building: Quality vs. Quantity - (UPDATED)

High Quality DirectoriesThere are countless SEO companies out there are vying for your business. Many of them offer a variety of monthly packages designed to make you feel as though you’re getting something of value. If I told you I could get you 200 links to your website for just $199 per month, you’re probably thinking that’s a great deal. It is, for the SEO company…at least until they go under for such shady business practices.

Years ago, Google learned how easy it was for people to game the system, getting links in sheer volume to rise above the rest in the results. That’s why investing in any bulk link package seemed like a good idea, and that’s why many less reputable SEO companies could get away with it.

For at least the past five years, Google and other search engines have shifted the focus away from volume to quality. They’d rather your website have 5 links from quality, reputable websites than hundreds of links from random, poor quality websites.

If you see an SEO company advertising X amount of links for $X, guaranteed, you can safely bet they’re using at least some gray hat techniques. There are some directory and bookmark links that can bring a lot of value to your website. However, for $200/month, you are probably not getting these as part of your package. Some of the top directories, such as the Yahoo! and Best of the Web cost between $69.95 to $299 per year. And since that eats up a large portion of your monthly budget, you’re not getting listed in those directories.

What are You Getting?

If you opt to participate in a scenario like this, you’re paying for one of two things. Either you’re paying for an “SEO company” to use submission software to automatically submit your site to hundreds of directories with little to no manual work required. Or, you’re paying for the company to outsource the work to other countries where they can pay pennies on the dollar to get the work done manually.

Why Is This Kind of Link Building Bad for Your Site?

Your site is most likely being submitted to directories that have little to no relevance to your site or have very low quality. This happens because no one is assigned to facilitate the submissions when software is doing it, and if people are doing it, quality is the last thing they are worried about, they just need to meet their quota. In fact, several of these directories could be some part of the 500+ penalized by Google or even worse, part of the 90+ banned by Google (see the full list here). I can tell you right now, link juice from a penalized site is never a good thing.

What Do You Do?

Instead of wasting your money on low quality mass submission links, think about increasing your digital marketing budget and investing in high-quality work. Your return on investment will be much more rewarding, and you will receive high-quality links that will not get you penalized or banned by search engines. For example, with a larger budget, you can receive high-quality links built through legitimate processes such as:

  • Writing quality content on your website that people find interesting and useful and link to on their own sites as references
  • Guest posting on blogs and websites related to your products or services
  • Manually submitting to high-quality directory links from relevant websites
  • Infographics – these are hot with audiences because they are easy to share. There are also a number of directories you can include your infographics in to make it easier for people to find and share them on their own websites.
  • Commenting on articles and posts you enjoy and have insights on
  • Manually submitting to high quality social bookmarking sitesSEO Link Building Tatics

Search Engine Journal offers an updated list of quality web directories to help you get started. Local businesses can also benefit from using other directories, such as Google My Business, Yahoo Local, and Yelp to help build a solid backlink profile.

What if I see Bad Links in My Backlink Profile?

An important part of SEO today is making sure your link profile looks good. Though not common, it’s possible for others to launch negative SEO attacks against you, by building a bunch of spammy backlinks to your website. This can also happen as a result of a hack.

If you see bad backlinks in your profile, don’t panic. You can, and should, take action as soon as possible – especially if you’ve seen a decline in your traffic and think you’ve been penalized.

Start by asking the webmasters at these web addresses to remove the link to your website, if you can find a method of contacting them. Do so politely, and make sure they know you don’t think it’s their fault. Do what you can to show them where the link is on their site, and don’t spam them with an insane number of emails.

Some of them may surprise you and honor your request. But, if there are some whom you never hear from, and there likely will be, don’t give up hope. You can use the Google Disavow Tool (inside the Google Search Console) to tell Google there are links to your website you want them to ignore when they crawl and index your website.

How Can I Find Quality Link Building Opportunities?

This is one of the main things that we help with as part of our SEO strategy for your business. Our experts take a look at your existing link profile, and the link profiles of your main competitors. One of the ways you can outrank them in the search engines is to have more quality links than they do. So yes, quantity matters, but not nearly as much as quality. Our analysis will determine where your competition’s links are coming from so that we can go out and try to earn links from those same places – plus other ones like it – that your competition hasn’t found yet. And we won’t just reach out and ask for a link. We make sure you’ve got a killer piece of content to link to that their audience will enjoy, so they get something of value in return. We handle this for you, so you can focus on other areas of your business – like nurturing your leads and converting them into paying customers.

Save yourself time, money and a huge headache by thinking twice before buying cheap SEO services. Don’t be fooled by all those SEO companies claiming to rank you #1 on Google with directory and social bookmarking links for only $199 per month. It truly can’t be done. We’d love to hear what you have to say about this idea of quality vs. quantity in link building. Leave a comment below or contact us privately.


the ultimate guide to google penalties

Ultimate Guide to Google Penalties

The-ultimate-guide-to-google-penaltiesGoogle is constantly refining their ever so secret algorithm to improve the search engine results. As part of this process, they have waged a war on spam. As Google attempts to catch the internet liars and cheaters, innocent companies and websites are sadly affected and hit with manual spam actions and spam filters. As website owners attempt to recover, it becomes critical they begin by understanding what went wrong and how to fix it. Lucky for all of you, Firestarter SEO has put together The Ultimate Guide to Google Penalties: your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about Google penalties. Our goal with putting this together is to save you time on researching the why and how, so you can spend more time implementing the how. Good luck to you all!


Google Releases Over-optimization Penalty

Over Optimization

The algorithm for the so-called over-optimization penalty which sparked fear and murmurings all over the web has now gone LIVE. And now most people can breathe a sigh of relief, except for of course, the ones being penalized. Not to rub it in the faces of those who do their SEO the shortcut way, but “We told you so!” OK, maybe I’m rubbing it in their faces a little bit. The official statement from Google is titled “Another step to reward high-quality sites.” Referring to white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO as the good and dark sides, respectively, Google explained the intent of the new algorithm to reward the sites that take the high road. Google is officially calling the update the Webspam Algorithm Update. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the search experience for Google users, which as an SEO professional AND a consumer, I appreciate. Something I found especially validating was this statement from Google:

“We also want the ‘good guys’ making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded.”

High-Quality Content

But moving on to the important stuff, this is how the algorithm will work…the change will decrease rankings for sites that are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines in order to reduce webspam and promote high-quality content. Of course, Google isn’t releasing too much info on specific signals to keep from people figuring out a way to work the system. Their advice for webmasters is simple: Create “high-quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.” Examples of aggressive webspam tactics are keyword stuffing and unusual linking patterns, (placing outgoing links that are completely unrelated to the actual content). From looking at various webmaster forums, there are already many reports of sites being affected. I mentioned in my last post that shortcuts and shady tactics may bring people to a site, but only high-quality content will keep them there. Now we see the tides are changing.


SEO: Can there be too much of a good thing?

Over Optimization

Rumor has it that for the past few months Google has been working on a new penalty that targets sites that overly optimize for search engines.  Basically, the idea is to reward sites that have valuable content over sites that have low-quality content but rank higher because of more effective SEO.  Google has always frowned upon websites that abuse SEO tactics to optimize sites while ignoring quality content and user value.  Especially within the last few years, Google has encouraged webmasters to provide original, rich content instead of solely using insider tricks to improve search engine rankings. Only recently has there been talk of actually penalizing the sites.  During a panel hosted by Search Engine Land in mid-March, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on a search ranking penalty for sites that are “over-optimized.” However, Google has not officially made any statements about the potential upcoming penalty.

Create Useful Content

Being in the business of SEO, I’d imagine that many of my peers have mixed feelings on the issue.  Personally, I fully agree with the principle of continually creating useful web content for users, but my business is also built on the backbone of utilizing SEO practices to improve website visibility.  I believe the correct philosophy is a good combination of both worlds: content and technology.  In other words, to apply the principle of providing valuable, original content along with smart and fair techniques that improve search engine optimization.  Although SEO might bring a customer to your website, good content should keep them at the site and motivate them to come back.  When I approach clients with my plan of action, my ideas include ways to improve or create valuable web content.  What are your thoughts?  Should businesses have their rankings penalized for using insider tricks to bypass quality content? google adsense banned .