Everyone knows that one of the ways Google (hereafter known as ‘The Borg’) assesses a web page is by the number of links pointing to that page. Link popularity has become a proxy for relevance and quality, on the basis that only quality and relevance lead people to link to a page. A popularity contest judged by millions! Wow!
Obviously, once people figured this out it became open season on getting links to your own website in any way possible whilst at the same time closing down all outbound links to other websites …
Gradually the internet got a bit screwy, with big evil corporations getting a free pass up the rankings because they were ‘brands’ and everyone else scrabbling around in the dirt for peanuts. Links were now like money, and traded like money – and they allowed you to print money because the more links you had pointing at your site the higher your site ranked and the more traffic you got, which in turn meant that the more ‘things’ you sold and the more money your made. Sadly, links also have a tendency to accumulate in the hands of a few – just like money – because the more links you have the more exposure you get, and therefore the more links you acquire, because when you’re visible you ‘must’ have value, and when you’re invisible you ‘must’ have no value.
But Google doesn’t care – why should it?
Google doesn’t mind. As the monopoly aggregator of the English-speaking internet it’s win-win whatever Google does. It doesn’t mind who gets to the top of the SERPS for any key phrase so long as there’s five or six sites of reasonable quality competing for that spot and in one way or another paying it.
But one thing niggles The Borg.
It’s done a pretty good job of keeping outrageously trashy spam out of the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages). But the sites that appear to fall inside its circle of trust have finally learnt how the broad sweep of the algorithm works and are desperate for links as they each jostle for prime position.
And The Borg can’t differentiate between them.
It can’t differentiate between the top-quality site providing a first-class service and the mediocre site delivering a poor service but brilliant at scrounging links and the New Spammer’s site that looks just like the mediocre site at first glance but which is a pile of automated mish-mash crap.
Poor old Borg.
It’s SOOO confused.
Go, spammers, go!
So the poor old Borg no longer believes the signals that all those sites are frantically sending out, each proclaiming how many sincere links they have pointing towards them.
Because The Borg knows how the internet works. It understands human nature.
It knows that site owners beg, borrow and steal to get links. They’ll do anything – yeah, anything – to get those links.
Even buying them! For money! Quietly, by email and on the phone, without letting The Borg know what they’re up to.
How can an honest Borg rank websites when it doesn’t trust their signals?
So The Borg proclaimed some time ago that ‘buying links is bad’.
And a thousand gibbering SEO gurus and website owners who should know better all clucked the Great Borg’s message to each other and to their clients and fretted late into the night about whether or not The Borg would detect the little backlink they’d bought from a mediocre site two months ago.
But it’s all nonsense, darlings!
It’s all nonsense.
And it’s all nonsense because every link on the planet has been BOUGHT in one way or another.
So here’s a list – oh, so easy to make a list, please rank me for my crappy list! – of all the nonsense ways in which website owners buy links.
I hereby name this list ….
One Hundred Ways In Which YOU Can Buy Links *
The testimonial on a friend’s website contains a link back to our website.
The advert that we buy (probably mediated by The Borg) links back to our site.
The conference meeting in a bar where we decided to help each other out. All it took was a beer.
The guest post or interview with – yes, you guessed it! – links back to us!
The crap article we leave on a crap article submission website. Oh, go on, you know you want to do it …
The PR guff we pay to release on one of the press release websites. Really, you know what BS that press release contained …
The directory submission. It cost a bit of money. But hey, sometimes it works!
The brilliant article/video on our website. It cost tons of time, energy, experience and money to produce. But it got linked to.
Actually, the mediocre article/video took time and effort, even if it didn’t get us any back-links.
The software tools we commissioned to give away for free. They didn’t COST free. But they got us links.
The viral nonsense we spread on YouTube. To more than ten people. Sticking that cat on the whirling fan took lLOTS of time. Thanks, cat!
The Wackypedia Crapapedia Wikipedia link. We spent a lot of time on there, got trusted, and then left a link to another Wikipedia page which in turn linked to -. Oh? You figured out the rest?
Our shopping cart or directory script or website template contains a hidden backlink to our site. And this method still works – sometimes. We put a lot of time and money into that script / template / website.
Our White Paper, the industry standard (yawn). Thanks for downloading it and thanks for telling everyone else in the industry. You did? No matter, our website address was plastered all over it.
The poor dupe we suckered into writing an article on our website. The dupe had contacts and status – that’s why we chose him – and all his contacts now busily point out the dupe’s article to each other on their blogs. Flattery and amorality, see? Great for affiliate marketers with little real content on their websites. And maybe not much in their hearts.
The affiliate links. Thanks, affiliates, for linking back to the mother ship!
The forum signature. It only takes 20 good quality posts in somebody else’s forum and then you get to link back to your own website!
The blog comment spam. Meaningful yet insincere, learned but shallow, these each take a tiny little bit of effort to craft and a bit of money to mass submit. And each contains a link back – natch. By the law of averages some will get through.
The coupon. It costs a bit, but everyone’s pointing it out to each other now.
The price reduction – no, discount to selected customers – if you agree to link back to us.
The Flash game on our site. Waste your time playing it, tell all your friends about it, link to it! It cost a fair bit to commission.
Our private network of websites. Or our little network of shops on 3rd party sites. Or our little network of business friends. It takes time and effort to create and maintain a network. Networks! They rule!
The Twitter guff. No one gives a damn – honest to God – about Twitter, but who knows, those links might count. Twitter – where fake friends congregate!
* may not be an accurate representation of the actual number of ways