It seems to be a common song and dance in SEO--once the search engines give the thumbs up to particular link building tactic like blog commenting or guest blogging the spammers come out of the woodwork to use and abuse that tactic for as long as they can. As the old adage goes, if you build a better mousetrap someone is bound to breed a smarter mouse. It often feels like it's Google versus the spammers and I'm not always sure who comes out on top. With Panda, Penguin, the page layout update, the EMD update and many others, Google is definitely trying to put the kibosh on "easy" link building tactics that many site owners have taken advantage of. But even with all the algorithm updates and refreshes it still sometimes looks the spammers are dominating the SERPs and keeping the deserving sites out of the top spots. So what's a site owner to do?

I know that it's very easy to get tempted to invest in some of those "easy" link building tactics because, after all, if it worked for that guy and he's getting away with it why can't I, right? But in my experience those sites that "get away with it" tend to be the exceptions, not the rule. In my opinion it's not a question of will those guys get caught; it's really only a matter of when.

In a recent interview I did with Internet marketing expert Jordan Kasteler we were discussing the idea that Google might come out with some sort of guest blogging penalty, seeing as that's becoming the "easy" link building tactic of the moment for some site owners (even though if you do it right it's far from it!). He mentioned that;

"Some SEOs out there fail to realize that no individual algorithm metric or tactic works alone. There are many signals that all interact together with varying levels of importance based on your mix of signals. There's no one size fits and gone are the days of trying to fool search engines with an array of tactics. I mean, it still works, you can still spam but it's just not sustainable. So unless you're a spammer trying to make a buck, focus on building quality content and a quality brand."

Speaking as a site owner and not an SEO professional, I know how frustrating it is to try and "play by the rules" and do everything outlined in the Google Webmaster Guidelines and feel like you just aren't getting anywhere. SEO is a long term process that builds on itself and sometimes it can feel like you're just spinning your wheels, especially when the competition is doing things with their SEO program that you've always been told not to do AND they're being rewarded for it! It's enough to make any site owner wonder if maybe the competition knows something you don't; that they found a way to slip past the algorithm and exploit the loopholes for their own profit. Maybe if you revere engineered their SEO program you'd find the loopholes too...

But here's my take on it--if you really, really want to invest in the "easy" link building tactics (the ones that get used, abused and spammed to death) test it out on a site that doesn't matter and not one that is your livelihood. If you're a small business owner you can't afford to take the chance that you might get caught. If your website is penalized and you lose 1/2 your traffic overnight how will you pay your mortgage? Your car payments? Your college tuition bills? In my mind, putting my family at risk isn't worth any short term gain that might be had from a spammy SEO program. Is three months at the top of the SERPs worth 6-9 months or more of trying to dig myself out of the hole after Google catches me in the act? I don't think so.

Yes, link building is time consuming and sometimes frustrating and definitely never-ending. It's better to accept that fact now and move on than spend the next 6 months trying to stay one step ahead of the next algorithm update and keep your website flying under Google's radar, only to spend the next 12 months after that desperately trying to recover from an algorithmic penalty. As Jordan pointed out, spam is just not sustainable. Personally, if I'm going to be investing any time in my link building and SEO program I want to make sure it's going to be worth it in the long run and keep pushing my online business along for years to come and not just the next few months.

February 26, 2013

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, one of the premier full service SEO firms in the United States. With over 12 years of experience Nick Stamoulis has worked with hundreds of companies small, large and every size in between. Through his vast and diverse SEO, search engine marketing and internet marketing experience Nick Stamoulis has successfully increased the online visibility and sales of clients in all industries.


This is good! I am currently looking into better link building strategies for my company. Question, which strategies do you recommend? Whenever I've tried to look into new link building strategies that aren't penalized I haven't found an exhaustive list on anyone's website. Can you point me to some blogs/articles?


Its a really interesting point here. The way I see it is that the SEs can do one of 2 things going forwards. To ignore all links and rely on the site itself or to let it become a free for all on links. Or a third, and heaven forbid - introduce only list paid-for and approved sites on the SEs and effectively ban organic search. If the SEs continue to fine tune their algos for organic search, they are chasing a losing battle - spammers will always find a way around the latest release. And perfectly legit sites will continue to get penalised....

As long as your competitors rank before you with easy link building tactics and your google spam reports do not seem to do anything to them, you are forced to duplicate them.

Since personalization and localization are making SERPs more and more irrelevant as the days roll on, is it time to shift the conversation towards PR and not link building? If guest blogging is seen as an "easy" link building tactic, that doesn't mean that it still doesn't have a ton of PR value. And isn't that what we're trying to do for our clients at the end of the day? Gain exposure for them that leads to conversions?

Food for thought. :)

There's no such think as "easy" link building. Your article is really informative, but I think that most of the seo specialists and most of the users are aware of the fact that SEO is a long process. You can't just wake up one morning at the tor of the SERPs. Or you can but you'll be penalized shortly after that.

Good advice for webmasters. However, your article is not complete. What advice do you have for webmasters who painstakingly build links the right way, yet get penalized. It happens. What if Google decides to penalize for guest posting. How will they decide that a link is from a guest post. What if my website, for example, gets a link because I have great content?

Personally, the temptation to use the easy link building tactic is very high, because, like you pointed out, others are succeeding with it. So while Google is doing her dance, I will be building websites with the easy link building tactics, and dumping them when they get caught. Then start again with new sites. The gain I make for these kind of sites will equal the gain I would have made when I use the "play by the rules" kind of websites in the long run.

The reason I'm doing this ? I'm not absolutely sure that when I play by the rules I will not get penalized.

What do yo say to this?

I completely understand how playing by the rules and seeing your competition who are using spammy tactics reap all the rewards can be frustrating. However in the long run you will be better off and I agree that these webmasters who seem to be slipping through the cracks will get caught out eventually. Focus on building your brand, leverage multiple marketing channels not just search engines and the results will come.

Hi, although no SE expert, I know content marketing. I my opinion, one should have less of a problem if one writes and submits posts (blog, website, articles, social media, etc). for the benefit of those whom one is trying to help, and therefore positioning oneself in conjuction with suppling good content (i.e. content rather than KWord focused) is, what in my opinion, will keep you on good terms with the SE's.

As we all know Google has changes it's algorithm to penalize those websites whose have low quality backlinks and copy content. Still most of the seo companies are doing the same link building process what they were doing before. I think they all are fool because if they continue with the old method, then they have never gotten the best rank for their targeted keywords to attract more traffic and sales.

Invest in future , not short term link building.

I think some of the guest bloggers are abusing this guest blogging side of link building way too much now days and trust me it won't be too difficult for Google to punish them or remove their content using their author name or tag.

Not really every person would certainly want to consider performing hyperlink developing manually while that is a difficult along with exhausting work. Although this can be a vital element of search engine marketing along with should be performed in every charge. Your skill is actually obtain a outsider firm generally known as a third party to do the hyperlink developing meet your needs.

Also, another ultra important fact to know is that at the top, where you are trying to be, there are tons of black hats waiting to drop your website 6 or more pages with in a couple of days if you get too close to the sun. They have all admitted their different tactics to me and that the top is a carefully guarded thing with ultra defensive tactics by black-hats which there will never be a cure for just like Google can not cut out one black be in an infinate swarm with out cutting down legitimate ranked websites because black hat seo is just a spin and combination that employs white hat methods as the framework. It is also obvious that Google has its own Black hat teams and methods from China and India ot they are employed by large companies that have been on top for a long time.

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