In the ongoing fight to get your website ranked highly by Google, many folks look to backlinking as one of the best options to achieve this result. But, is it a good idea or not to employ this sort of tactic?
Before we start anything, I will state categorically, “Do not buy Links!”
The reasons for this will be self-evident as you read on.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink is quite simply a link from a website back to your website. For example, your company is listed on your local Chamber of Commerce website and they place a link on their site back to your website. That’s a backlink!
Here's another example of a backlink from the Yellow Pages.
So, why is it important to get backlinks? A simplistic overview, without going into too much detail and boring the life out of you, is that quality backlinks from high ranking domains give SEO juice (credibility) to your website. And subsequently, Google looks to rank your website higher in the organic search results.
It’s similar to a business referral. If you get a referral from someone you know and trust, then you know that the referral is worth a lot to you. Get one from someone you don’t know, and the trust factor diminishes substantially.
But what about placing backlinks in the blog comments section of a website?
Why Is It A Bad Idea?
As SEO tactics go, placing backlinks in blog comments is not necessarily a good or bad thing. However, if you are using the tactic solely as a way to gain more SEO credit, then you are wasting your time and will ultimately hurt your website’s credibility. Some of first things to keep in mind when making comments on a blog are: “Is the website and discussion related to my own business?”, “What value are you bringing to the discussion?” and “Are you furthering the discussion by offering alternative viewpoints or information. In essence, “Are you bringing VALUE?”
In this example, the original discussion was about using cloth diapers vs disposal diapers on a pregnancy website. You can tell from the comment that they are not adding any value at all. Because this particular website has a high domain ranking, they simply placed so text and a link to their own website home page to try and garner some seo juice. While the tactic may work in the short term, Google's algorithms will catch up with you eventually and ding your website in a way that you may never recover from.
Just placing a link in a blog comment does nothing and you should get nothing out of it if that’s all you bring to the table. Writing comments like, “Wow, great article you really nailed this one, link,” also serves no purpose for the reader. If you sell Pink Dresses and place links on websites that deal in Nuclear Fusion or Casino Gambling, why should you get credit for this when it has nothing to do with Pink Dresses?
To illustrate how these tactics can affect you, a 2011 article by the New York Times concerning J.C. Penny shows just what can happen if you use “black-hat” tactics to try and subvert the ranking process.
J.C. Penny hired an SEO firm to help them try to get their website pages to rank higher in Google search results. After a period of time, the tactics seemed to be working. Many of their website pages started to rank very high in the search engine results pages (SERPs). In fact, they started beating out their own supplier’s website pages in the SERPs. But what J.C. Penny did not know was that the SEO Company was placing hundreds of links all over the internet to influence the rankings.
When information came to light about how J.C. Penny (their SEO Company) achieved these results and the information was reported to Google, their rankings plummeted down faster than someone wearing a pair of cement shoes in a body of water. This is what Google did:
“On Wednesday evening, Google began what it calls a “manual action” against J.C. Penney, essentially demotions specifically aimed at the company.
At 7 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for “Samsonite Carry On Luggage.”
Two hours later, it was at No. 71.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was No. 1 in searches for “Living Room Furniture.”
By 9 p.m., it had sunk to No. 68.
In other words, one moment J. C. Penney was the most visible online destination for living room furniture in the country. The next it was essentially buried.”
You can see that just placing links on websites with no relevance to your product can cause you massive problems. J.C. Penny fired their SEO Company and worked hard to correct the problem.
When is it a Good Idea?
As we mentioned earlier, placing comments on blog articles is good when you have something of value to offer. The reader will be further engaged, informed or educated about the topic. The process should be looked at as one of building social influence, rather than one of link building. Developing a relationship with particular websites and making regular contributions via comments in blog articles will have a better effect on your social influence than getting a backlink. You must also keep in mind that many influential sites that allow blog comments have “rel-nofollow” attributes assigned to them. So, you would get no SEO credit for the backlink anyway.
If you do leave a link, make sure it has good anchor text. Don’t leave link looking like, http://businessname.com/pinkdresses, put “Pink Dresses.”
So What Should You Do?
Backlinking is still an important part of gaining website online credibility and getting yourself ranked in Google’s organic search results. But it is hard work. Here are a few things you can start to do:
Develop Relationships. If you find a site that has influence in your industry, start to develop a relationship with them. Ultimately, if you bring value to them, they may give you value back by giving you a backlink.
Guest Post. Some people say this method is dead, but I disagree. Getting original content onto influential websites not only provides them with additional value to offer their audience, but gives you a powerful backlink. Don’t forget to ask them if they provide a backlink before you submit anything to them.
Directory Listings. This is still a good method of getting a free backlink. It is especially helpful if the directory listing site has a high domain rank.
It’s not easy to build quality backlinks. There are companies that charge thousands of dollars to maybe get just 4-6 top quality backlinks for you. It takes time, patience and the desire to do things the right way! Do it the wrong way and like most things in life, you’ll pay for it!
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!