Does bulk link building work?

  • Backlinks are essential to rank well with Google. It's therefore easy to imagine that the more backlinks the better. Perhaps they work like helium balloons? Fill enough balloons with helium and they will carry you to the top of Google's ranking.

    This used to be true. However, as Google have evolved and introduced new algorithms, it's no longer the case. Low quality backlinks act like weights and if you have too many of them, Google is far more likely to penalise you than reward you.

    This article explains why bulk link building is a black hat SEO strategy that no longer works and what the alternative is. It takes into account:

    • Google’s guidelines on quality links.
    • Google algorithm updates (Particularly Google Penguin and RankBrain).
    • linking patent that Google was awarded back in May 2014.
    • Evidence from a wide range of SEO forums and blogs.
    • Our own experience in managing SEO campaigns in six different languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch).

    As Google has evolved, quality is more important than ever.

    Note, when talking about bulk links, we’re only considering SEO related links and not links from Google Adwords or nofollow links which don't pass link credit.

     

    Why are bulk links a problem for SEO?

    An old advertising motto is “Create Once, Publish Everywhere”. Understandably, webmasters and marketing companies applied the same approach to SEO. This resulted in a vast number of spammy sites and a reduced quality in articles that ranked with Google.

    In order to improve their search results, Google had to take steps to stop spam sites (or the sites they linked to) from ranking. Recently, Google have also penalised sites containing bulk content written by AI, for much the same reasons.

     

    Google Penguin

    Google Penguin was introduced in 2012 and changed the link building game in a major way. Since then, Google have rolled out several Penguin updates and these are now incorporated into Google's core algorithm.

    With Penguin, Google lowered the benchmark for spam or toxic links and this meant more sites received manual penalties. They also introduced negative links or ‘link weights’, as in the image shown here, so now high-quality links continue to move you up the search results, just like the helium balloons, but low quality links move you down.

    This means that if there are two sites with the same number of high-quality links, the one with no spam links will appear far higher in the search results than one with even a few bad links.

    Bulk link building

  • Spam stamp

    How Google defines spam backlinks

    Google’s guidelines on spam links include various examples of black hat link schemes that can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:

    • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank.
    • Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”).
    • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.
    • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site.
    • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank.
    • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
    • Low-quality directory or bookmark site links.
    • Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.
    • Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites.
    • Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature.
    • Excessive links from foreign language pages (e.g. links on French pages to a German website).

    If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, this may seem like a daunting list. It's worth noting that many of these categories have provisos added. Words like "automated", "excessive", and "large-scale" indicate that a handful of low-quality links won't hurt you. Neverthless, the more spam links you have, the higher the risk of a manual penalty and the more high-quality links you will need to counterbalance it.

  • Free yourself from toxic backlinks

    By focusing on high-quality links in much smaller volumes, you will be free of negative links that weigh you down. As a result, you'll soar up the search results.

    Quality links are defined in two key ways:

    Quality content

    Google reviews how long visitors spend on a page, the bounce rate, and numerous other factors to determine whether on-page content is high-quality or not. They complete the same process for off-page content too. They are therefore perfectly capable of determining whether articles or other content that links back to you are well-written. The Google Panda SEO Algorithm measures the quality of content.

    To produce quality text, hire qualified, native speakers to write helpful, SEO-friendly content and incorporate original images.

    Quality websites

    The other thing that matters is the websites the content is placed on. For each link, ask yourself:

    "Would I still want this link if search engines didn’t exist?"

     The kind of sites that are high-quality include

    • Leading blogs and news sites – A Moz SEO study showed that 78% of SEO experts felt that guest blogging on relevant high authority sites is the best link building strategy.
    • High authority, high traffic sites – When providing guest posting services, we ensure every site has a high Domain Authority, TrustFlow, and traffic. This way, no spam sites slip through the net.
    • Social media sites – Developing your own social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn profile, or sharing in relevant groups on social media sites is a good way to build backlinks. Even though these sites add nofollow to all outgoing links, Google's algorithm still takes social media links into account. Indeed, Google own over 40,000 patents that contain both the words 'SEO' and 'Social media'.
    • Specialist directories – Submitting your site to the best specialist directories in your field, particularly the directories that appear high themselves for relevant searches.
    • Infographics – Sharing infographics that capture people’s imagination and are either educational, inspirational or fun, so that other people will then share them in turn.
    • Video platforms – Sharing videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion and other video sites.

    By creating great content on your own site, you will receive a certain number of incoming links without having to lift a finger. For the rest of the backlinks, you will need to invest effort into writing helpful articles and designing engaging infographics and doing outreach to place them on leading publications and prominent news sites.

    Quality link building strategy