Site owners should stay away from manipulative link practices, said Google Web Trends Analyst John Mueller.
On a recent installment of Google’s ‘Office Hours’ livestream series, a viewer asked what methods of link-building would and wouldn’t be necessary. Link-building is the act of getting your pages linked to on other websites – this ultimately increases traffic and improves SEO performance.
Normally, link-building is performed organically – in other words, site creators will search out valuable content and link to it for the sake of its quality.
However, some websites promise link-building opportunities for a payment. The viewer asked Mueller about these deals, and whether or not they would be considered ‘fair game.’
“We approached many companies,” the user asked. “They said they’d charge thousands of dollars, or tens of thousands of dollars to get links from the home page or news sites.”
The viewer claimed that the third-party sites told them, “If you pay us, your site will also rank high because we are going to put your site back-linked with articles on the home page. I don’t think that it’s wise to put money in such practices.”
After asking Mueller what they should do, the host explained that manipulative link-building should be avoided.
“Artificially building links, dropping links on other sites, buying links against the webmaster guidelines. We take action on that algorithmically, and we take action on that manually,” Mueller said.
He elaborated by explaining that Google may demote a site if it is caught buying or selling links, which would either negate the effects of the links, or negatively affect its performance on SERPs.
What, then, should site owners do to gain an edge?
Mueller suggests creating genuinely appealing content, and letting it speak for itself – an approach that Mueller explains is “kind of encouraging them to link to your site but without this kind of exchange of value, exchange of money, all of that.”