Back in the good ol’ days, SEO was easy. Stuff your keywords here, here, here and here. Add them there and there for good measure. And build links, links and more links. But now those are considered as spammy link-building techniques.
Well, to quote Billy Joel, “The good ol’ days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” Perhaps we should call them “The Good Ol’ Spammy Days.”
Here are two spammy link-building techniques that no longer work – but that are still being pushed by many SEO practitioners today.
Spammy Link-building Technique #1: DIRECTORIES:
It is hard to believe, but less than a decade ago, the top way to build one-way links was by submitting your website to directories. The more directories, the better.
If inbound links were a measure of how popular a website was – votes for that website – then it stands to reason that lots of directory votes means you have a very popular website, full of all the best content. Except that makes no sense at all, since all those links – all those “votes” were you voting for yourself – stuffing the ballot box.
Do directory submissions still work?. I believe they do. But I believe that only a small selection of directories work, those that are selective about whom they admit.
More specifically, only those that make it painfully obvious to the search engines that they are selective. These include:
- Local directories. These can be effective because they send a signal to the search engines that the sites included are relevant for local searches.
- Niche directories. These can be effective because they send a signal to the search engines that the sites included are relevant for certain topics, for certain searches.
- Discriminating directories. These can be effective because they send a signal to the search engines that the sites included are of top quality. If your website is accepted into an exclusive club, the search engines will note that it has moved up in the world, so to speak.
Spammy Link-building Technique #2: LINK EXCHANGES:
And not that long ago, link exchanges were the top means of garnering inbound links. The flow of link exchange emails used to drown out most other things in my email inbox. Now it has slowed to a trickle – a mere dozen or so per day. Yes, even now, a dozen a day.
Link exchanges were an easy way to get those inbound links, those “votes”, because everybody wanted to exchange links. In theory, this made a lot more sense than directory links.
With link exchanges, you were not voting for yourself. Someone else was voting for you. And they would not publicly, on their own website, vote for you unless your website was up to their standard of quality.
The problem came when everyone was so desperate to trade links that they were willing to put any links on their website, perhaps tucked out of the way of their visitors. Quality be damned. Topic be damned. And so, link exchanges became as spammy as directory submissions. Worse, in far too many cases.
Do link exchanges still work ?. I believe they do, very much so. And I still undertake them for clients on a rare and discriminating basis. The two key factors are:
- Quality. I don’t want my clients linking to poor quality websites. If it would be embarrassing for a visitor to the site to follow the link, it does not go up.
- Relevance. Don’t want my client’s automotive links showing up wedged between a link to a web design company and a link to an energy drink supplier. Such a placement shows no relevance; it is almost like shouting out to the search engines, “I’ll sleep with anyone to get a link!” Hardly a convincing “vote” or “endorsement”.
These two link-building techniques used to work, hard as it is to believe. They still do, if carefully executed. But beware of the peddlers still selling the old style, mass production versions. A good rule of thumb is, you get what you pay for. Another is, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Take the time. Spend the money. Do it right. It will pay off in the long run.