The email came from an individual who identified herself as an “Internet marketing professional”. She said that my client’s site was not on the first page of Google for a particular keyword search and she could help as she and her partners own “1,000′s of sites” and were selling “high quality, one-way anchor links” through this network of sites. She bragged about how she could get them ranked #1 on Google for this particular keyword search.
OK, a couple of problems here. One, she was incorrect. For the keyword search she mentions, my client IS on the first page of Google, not the #1 result, but definitely on page one. Two, this client is a local nonprofit, so anyone searching for their services would most likely include the city or county in the search. So, for their keywords and the location, they are #3 on the first page.
And, most importantly, what this person was offering is known as “link farming”. This is where someone develops multiple sites for the sole purpose of selling links to another website, with the intent of driving a high volume of inbound traffic and manipulate the search engine results. You see, search engines take into account the volume of traffic sent to a website from other, high quality, legitimate websites. Now, here are the keys: “High quality” and “legitimate”. A link from the Wall Street Journal to your site would no doubt generate high volume and it would be coming from a legitimate, well known website. Even a link from another small nonprofit or business would count, as long as it was clear that there was a legitimate connection between the two entities.
Here’s the plain truth: Search engines, especially Google, do not take kindly to people who try to manipulate their results through these types of tricks. They consider this type of activity spamming and have taken aggressive steps to penalize the link farm sites. As a result, your site can also be blacklisted by the search engines for your participation in this type of “link building”.
Remember that link building IS an excellent activity to increase your search engine results, but do it with legitimate websites that have a direct connection with your type of organization and maintain high quality content themselves.