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Buying links recommended by our SEO firm
Should we do it?
PublicSphere

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 2:27 pm on Sep 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

We're paying an SEO firm some big bucks. They have recommended that we buy links to our website from directories including Yahoo!, BestoftheWeb, Family Friendly Sites, Gimpsy, Business.com, GoGuides and several others.

They also mention in their report that paid links are frowned upon by Google. Yet they still think it will help our rankings a lot.

I've been under the impression for some time that Google will actually penalize a website, and even remove it from results if you pay for links -- due to intentionaly manipulation of their search results.

It all seems a bit odd. I mean what do you do? Anyone who is performing any sort of SEO is surely attempting to manipulate Google search engine results. So if they frown upon paid links they should frown upon all SEO (after all time is money essentially).

It seems odd that Google would ban a site for paying for links, yet they don't ban sites that perform any other SEO tactics, that are performed purely for the sake of improving rankings (artificially manipulating SERPs).

My boss is asking whether it's safe to buy these links. I'm pretty sure Yahoo! is safe and a few of the others on the list. But what makes one paid link safe and another not, excluding a no-follow?

And don't say it's because they refiew your site -- only a total idiot would pay $300 for someone to review their site. We're blatantly only interested in the link. And we only want that to improve our rankings right?

What are your thoughts?

 

idolw

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 2:52 pm on Sep 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've been under the impression for some time that Google will actually penalize a website, and even remove it from results if you pay for links -- due to intentionaly manipulation of their search results.

And what if I bought all these links to your site?
If the links are from good sites and you have cash for that, go for it.
The sites that sell links should be careful in order not to exxagerate with link selling.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 2:52 pm on Sep 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

lol. Best. Post. Ever.

You've completely encapsulated the conundrum we're all in. Google's complaining about paid links, but defining paid links is a grey area. And Google whining about paid links <> them actually doing anything about it.

It's really a risk vs. reward proposition - I don't think there's a firm line. Most of those directories you've mentioned are generally considered safe because they review the site. Yeah, yeah, you're right - only an idiot would pay $300. But there you go - that's the currently accepted state of affairs.

Is a few links from top tier directories going to hurt you? probably not. Is a lot of links from directories going to hurt you in the long term? Perhaps, if it's your base strategy for link development. But some links from the top tier directories blended with other good quality backlinks, IMO should be fine over the long haul.

That's of course taking into account that just buying a boatload of directory and low quality paid links works wonderfully well right now, despite Google's reservations. How long it lasts though - maybe forever, maybe tomorrow. Therein lies the risk. The key IMO is to do everything in moderation. Don't give Google a simple link profile to follow and blast. Tie yourself into the web into as many diverse places as you can find.

jake_m

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 6:37 pm on Sep 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

The key IMO is to do everything in moderation. Don't give Google a simple link profile to follow and blast. Tie yourself into the web into as many diverse places as you can find.

I have to agree 100% with Wheel on that one.

austtr

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 11:55 pm on Sep 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Your SEO firm is giving you good advice. Those are reputable directories that use human reviews. That is what you are paying for with no guarantee of being accepted.

I have some previous experience with those directories and am not aware of any sites suffering a penalty with Google because of their inclusion.

They are some of the very, very few directories worth considering.... IMO

Crush

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 8:24 am on Sep 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Buy some trust. Good idea then you can get away with anchor from less reputable sites.

novustek

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 9:35 am on Sep 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I often say "you pays your money and takes your chance" I know its not particularly exciting but I prefer to edge on the side of caution, Personally I wouldn't buy inbound links for my companies site in that context, maybe the odd advert but thats all.

The question I would ask is; can we achieve the same results without resorting to "buying links" Im sure it would help its a quick fix and as long as your prepared for the possible consequences try it.

PublicSphere

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 3:02 pm on Sep 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks guys. Very interesting.

You know the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get.

Your SEO firm is giving you good advice. Those are reputable directories that use human reviews. That is what you are paying for with no guarantee of being accepted.

I have some previous experience with those directories and am not aware of any sites suffering a penalty with Google because of their inclusion

First of all, I wouldn't pay someone to review my site. If someone wants to review my site they can do it for free.

Secondly, why is it that some sites can get away with accepting paid links, while others can't?

I find it hard to believe that anyone would pay these directories purely for the review -- and I find it hard to believe that Google doesn't feel the same about that.

I can see how Google asking webmasters to report paid links could improve the quality of their search results. Unfortunately it seems to me their attempt to solve a problem merely creates another, since they're not tackling the problem at it's root.

We can't pay for links. But we can pay to create linkable content. OK so Google might say that's exactly what we want -- linkable content is good content, whether it's made for the purpose of SEO or not.

But is that really true? Or does it perpetuate the development of a 'webmaster orientated link driven internet'. One in which content creation is driven by the objectives of link builders.

Of course this content model is probably far better than one in which Google uses paid links as a factor in their algorithm, in terms of search results quality. However it's still not perfect. It means much of the content is written for webmasters (a small group of all searchers).

My main gripe then is that Google does not discriminate against some websites that accept paid links, despite their clear policy on this matter. They have double standards.

I think if I was Google I would do one simple thing. Reduce the voting power of ANY page that accepts paid links to NOTHING. That means a link from Yahoo! directory pages (paid inclusion), BestofTheWeb (paid inclusion), etc. should all have zero influence on Google search results.

But that's up to them.

In the end I think if you want to pay for traffic, PPC is the only way. Otherwise produce your content for webmasters, as that is what Googles policy has achieved.

vincevincevince

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 3:07 pm on Sep 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

The Yahoo directory was in the picture long before we worried about page rank. It was there to direct traffic directly to search results. This direct traffic in itself was particularly valuable; and to some extent still is worth paying for in good niches. That's the origin of the Yahoo! review charge. Whether you pay it for SEO purposes today doesn't really matter to Google; somebody at Yahoo is going to say the site isn't utter spam, and that means something... at least a little something.

leadegroot

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 3:03 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

@PublicSphere - you do realise that when these directories 'review' your site, you don't actually receive a written review from them?

When they say they will 'review your site' they actually mean that they will have a look and see if they think its up to their standards.
All you get back is a yay or nay - oh, and a link, if all goes well.

lexipixel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 3:10 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Operate as if Google does not exist.

What I mean by this is;

Would you buy these links just for the exposure to potential visitors and the possible traffic they could generate? If the answer is yes, then it's a good link.

Expand your exposure in a network of forums, blogs, directories and other sites where people looking for your type of website go and try to get links from these sites. If the type of visitors you are trying to attract might find you there, it's a good link.

Get listed with local websites, (newspaper, city/town business directory, chamber of commerce, BBB, etc), although these might not get you a lot of traffic, they build "trust rank" as these sites reinforce your physical address and make your site more credible.

Do some reciprocal linking -- it can't hurt if your landscaper has a site with a links page and you ask him for a link and in-turn put them on your links page.

This is how it all started, and it all still works.

If your business has a state or national organization, join and get listed there, a link from "National Assoc. of Websites Like Mine" is a good for trust factor.

If your site is selling something and you run promotions, (PROMO CODES, ONLINE COUPONS, ETC), give the info to the sites that list the coupon codes -- many will link to you.

If you sell blue widgets and don't sell red widgets, find a red widgets vendor ask if they want to trade links.

Be creative and careful with your linking strategy and it shouldn't hurt a thing with "you know who".

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 3:11 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>>But what makes one paid link safe and another not<<<

As leadegroot said, you're paying to have them check if your site is worth including but also to make sure it's in the best category, doesn't have a spammy or inappropriate title and description too. Editors are paid money to sort through submissions, they don't do it for free. Why should the review be free? Even DMOZ isn't free, someone is paying to keep that site online.

Believe it or not, I've had one of my sites declined by Best of the Web. Best of the Web has been around in one form or another before Google and DMOZ existed, and since about the same time as Yahoo, 1994. You're not paying for a link, you're paying for a review to be included in a directory. So that in a nutshell is an answer to your question.

There's plenty of room to debate but ultimately the questions you're raising can only be answered by the search engines. Part of the answer is how well can links be determined to be paid or natural and what effect to the SERPs will taking them down have.

Anyone who is performing any sort of SEO is surely attempting to manipulate Google search engine results. So if they frown upon paid links they should frown upon all SEO...

Not quite. There's more to SEO than that, just as there's more to eating than stuffing food in your face. :) A good part of SEO is getting back to fundamentals of creating good site architecture, knowing what things may trigger less optimal results, and understanding how search engines view content and rank it. In other words, it's making the site accessible to the search engines and managing their interpretation of what your pages are about.

My boss is asking whether it's safe to buy these links.

It's wise to consider your risk tolerance and develop a link building strategy that takes that under consideration. A strictly citation-based campaign (i.e. take a look at our site. Like it? Link it. Thanks!) generally is slow going and it's unlikely to result in receipt of your desired anchor text. So understand that if you decide to take that path.

carguy84

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 6:13 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

First of all, I wouldn't pay someone to review my site. If someone wants to review my site they can do it for free.

Some of the best money I've ever invested into my site was for exactly this.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 6:36 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

The review is synonymous with 'let's check if we like your site and will list it'

Those are good directories to be in, in my personal experience I have never run into any issue with those.

Those sites pass trust, which essentially blurs link lines and allows you to build links from other diverse linking structures to your advantage.

webdoctor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 6:46 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)


First of all, I wouldn't pay someone to review my site. If someone wants to review my site they can do it for free.

Some of the best money I've ever invested into my site was for exactly this.

Do you mean you paid for a review, or you paid for a "review"-and-a-listing-one-someone-else's-site?

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 7:30 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Matter of interest, have your SEOs made any recommendations on how you might acquire non-paid links?

PublicSphere

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 8:13 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

somebody at Yahoo is going to say the site isn't utter spam, and that means something... at least a little something.

I can definately see how that is worth money on todays internet. In which case I can see the usefulness of Yahoo! listings as a factor in the Google algorithm.

Thanks for everyones advice on this -- I think I've got a pretty clear picture of how it all works now with paid links. I can see how buying 'trust' in terms of a website like Yahoo! saying your website is not spam can be handy info for Google ranking algorithm.

The Yahoo directory was in the picture long before we worried about page rank.

The nature of the web is such that a directory's usefulness will diminish in approximate correlation to the growth of the webs content. That's arguable depending on the policies of the directory but you can see how hard coded directory pages containing millions of websites can't provide the information as well as a search engine. The only way to get around this problem would be to increase the strictness of the review policy inline with the growth of the internet, while keeping listing numbers limited, therefore using the directory as a sort of means of achieving natural selection based on the evolution of the review policy strictness.

Googles algorithm still rely's largely on human opinion and money -- but then however you look at the algorithm it will eventually boil down to those two things.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 8:29 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

...you can see how hard coded directory pages containing millions of websites can't provide the information as well as a search engine.

Directories are not trying to provide information. That's not their mission or goal. Search engines answer queries. Directories do not. Directories are a catalog of notable sites about certain topics. Search engines are not.

Two different functions. Two different methods of discovery.

Now on to the first assumption of that post:

The nature of the web is such that a directory's usefulness will diminish in approximate correlation to the growth of the webs content."

Wikipedia is a catalog of the sum of human knowledge. More vast than indexing the Internet. Do you believe that as more content is added that it's usefulness is going to diminish? Wikipedia follows the same format as a directory. It's an organized collection of information ordered by topic. Change your statement a little and see how the truth comes out:

The nature of the web is such that wikipedia's usefulness will diminish in approximate correlation to the growth of human knowledge.

I can click around Wikipedia for hours discovering nuggets of knowledge. Something I cannot do on a search engine. Directories are the same way, they perform a vastly different function than search engines do and the size of the Internet is entirely irrelevant. Directories do not map the Internet. They catalog notable sites organized by topic.

RichTC

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 9:01 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just to chip in here...

If you put the paying for links issue to one side and think about it from a quality control aspect, google know that webmasters that are paying $300 USD for one of those directory sites you mentioned to review your site are unlikely to be submitting a junk or spam site to it as they would risk losing their money.

So indirectly a site that gets listed in say yahoo directory must be of a reasonable standard in the first place otherwise it wouldnt get listed. So a listing COULD be a small token of trust?

Will it help your rankings is another matter. But as far as i know the guidelines indicate that paying a "Review fee" that doesnt guarantee acceptance is ok v directory sites that list everyone and anyone may not be so good?.

In all i would agree that by now you would think the google algo could just factor in all situations. In the real world large sites are advertising all over the net, one mans "paid text link" is another mans "Text Advert" - Google have more chance of recruiting Lord Lucan than trying to police this but that apart, the real question to ask youreself is:-

"If one of these sites reviews and agrees to list my site, will i get any value from that listing, will i get more visitors as a result, will customers find my site easier or would my $300 be better spent promoting my website elsewhere?"

Only you can answer that

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 9:55 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'll go straight to the point in the title...

Buying links recommended by our SEO firm
Should we do it?

If you trust them, yes.

If you don't trust them, no.

Hire someone you trust with a proven track record and good references and then follow their advice.

[edited by: incrediBILL at 9:56 am (utc) on Sep. 19, 2008]

PublicSphere

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 10:59 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

So a listing COULD be a small token of trust?

Absolutely.

Wikipedia follows the same format as a directory.

We're talking about paid directories here. You can't possibly compare a paid directory content model with the Wikipedia content model.

Wikipedia is user generated. BOTW is a business. It's deisgned to make money.

If anything Wikipedia is a database that is browsed using a search engine, far more so than via directory links, due to the ever expanding volume of content.

In fact Google is Wikipedias primary navigation.

Miamacs

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 1:37 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

uh... another note.
Not my character but let me become the pragmatical one just a little bit.

...

there is... no direct penalty for buying links.

...

There was for selling them though.

Links from shady places, irrelevant generic sites, blogs, unknown directories, link farms etc. might get devalued or worse: accounted for. But you wouldn't want (to buy) low-quality links anyway.

The kind you need ( see above posts ) are 0 / zero mid-term risk.

The key is getting links from trusted sites, and that's that. If that aspect is met, even Google won't care whether you paid for them to link to you, they paid for you so you'd let them link to you, you're related by blood, friends from college or had a moment of combined consciousness.

i.e.

Buying links from trusted, authority sites is no risk.
Buying links by the truckload from wherever is high risk.

And if you look at the above two facts (!) ...the reason is not because you're 'BUYING' them. But because you're suddenly getting links from the lowest-ever quality sites on the net that link to ANYONE for a few $'s and thus had/are/ and will get and spread Google penalties like plague.

Treat bought links as Google does: links. And as w/ any links:
Point is whether they're relevant, authoritative, trusted and permanent.

...

jeyKay

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 2:17 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think if I was Google I would do one simple thing. Reduce the voting power of ANY page that accepts paid links to NOTHING. That means a link from Yahoo! directory pages (paid inclusion), BestofTheWeb (paid inclusion), etc. should all have zero influence on Google search results.

I don't think they can completely discount Yahoo. Some of those links aren't paid, they are actual editor picks (like mine =D)

IMHO, Google will never be able to crack down 100% on paid links.You can't discredit a site that charges for a service. Those directories have human reviews, and bring in legitimate traffic because they are popular. Why nullify their value? If anything they are more relevant then most sites that don't charge at all.

carguy84

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 4:32 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Do you mean you paid for a review

Yes, sorry for the confusion.

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 5:50 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google's "guidelines" and way of doing things in some cases really hurts the web.

This whole nonsense about paid links is so self serving and dumb IMHO. Creates FUD and only paid ads give you guaranteed traffic if you pay enough/tweak your landing page a bit...

Why don't they just tell people "Don't lie when you publish stuff on the internet". Then Google's latest patent will detect lies and penalize websites that lie. How do you like that for a "guideline"?

Seb7

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 6:09 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

My advice, dont go spending lots of money on links; use the money on developing the website. If you have a decent website, people will naturally want to link to you.

randle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 7:22 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

We're blatantly only interested in the link. And we only want that to improve our rankings right?

Ahhh, some refreshing honesty. People don’t pay $300 a pop to Yahoo to be placed in their directory which Yahoo themselves has buried under a small tab named “more” to boost traffic. It is a bit confusing yes, but there is some logic to it as others have suggested. If you’re willing to pay $300, and an editor accepts it (Yahoo actually does have some standards here) then at least Google knows it’s above some auto generated, template spam and that, is something on the “signal of quality” scale they can use. It’s free information on the quality of your site, why wouldn't they use it?

So, there are different types of bought links; it’s not a perfect world.

They have recommended that we buy links to our website from directories including Yahoo!, BestoftheWeb, Family Friendly Sites, Gimpsy, Business.com, GoGuides and several others.

I would agree with doing this; it can’t hurt, and most likely will sprinkle a little trust on your site. (sure worked for us during the sand box days)

We're paying an SEO firm some big bucks.

I don't know what your defintion of "big bucks" is, but if its any where near mine, I would not agree with doing this. Whatever their going to do, you could figure out here; [webmasterworld.com...] and here; [google.com...] for free, and your risk factor goes way down, (which seems to be your concern).

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 7:49 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Pretty easy to sum up in my estimation without needing to over-analyze:

The links will help build trust, regardless of the cryptic language that you hear floating around the net.

(Always consider the source and intention of the message when deciphering information from various institutions. Police do not necessarily want you out drinking and driving, but a few beers at home is completely acceptable)

Links such as these ones will never hurt your rankings, period, when they are linked correctly to your website.

Your SEO has made these suggestions, and if you trust this person, you need to believe in his or her ability to know their genre better than you do. If you feel apprehensive, maybe its time to find another SEO you can have more faith in.

Check current ranking portfolio of the company, that pretty much says it all in my opinion.

jimbeetle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 8:04 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wonder what the interest in this thread would have been if it were titled "Submitting to quality directories recommended by our SEO firm"?

D_Blackwell

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3746330 posted 3:43 am on Sep 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

but defining paid links is a grey area.

Would you buy these links just for the exposure to potential visitors and the possible traffic they could generate? If the answer is yes, then it's a good link.

When hitting a new niche I join directly related organizations, societies... the ones that give the best quality 'member links' and have promise of good value; not just an endless list of links. Down the road, my membership may provide a wide variety of other benefits, but my membership alone is often a super bargain for good quality, targeted, one-way links. A couple of lines of provided text to go with the link - some of these links are a steal. Love related topic/niche organizations. The sites have often been around forever, are often underutilized but well respected, and often happy to be offered some 'free' content down the road a bit. Gold mines.

Not really into directories personally. Have never given Yahoo a nickel and never felt that it hurt any.

This 59 message thread spans 2 pages: 59 ( [1] 2 > >
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