Anytime you build a website you run several risks. You can risk losing your time, losing your money or even your long term rankings by making one or two bad decisions. Many of these risks can be minimized by playing it safe with strategies used to grow your website. For instance you may save some money by writing the entire website yourself. You may save time by outsourcing the content writing or web design. You can also save time by outsourcing your link building or utilizing private link networks to manipulate Google rankings. This post is dedicated to the last risk: Link Networks.
What’s A Link Network & What Does It Offer Me?
Before we go into details about what makes a good vs bad link network and the risks associated with using them let’s talk about what they are. A link network is a group of websites that are primarily set up with the intentions of linking out to other websites to increase rankings. Some individuals build link networks to help build links to their own websites while others build link networks with the intentions of selling links. No matter what precautions are taken – a link network that openly sells links to the public has a much higher risk associated with it. You simply never know who will be your buyer and that opens your entire link network up to being discovered and even being de-indexed.
What Makes A “Bad” Link Network?
Link networks are never 100% risk free. There are certain traits in a link network that make them even more susceptible to being discovered and potentially kicked out of the Google index. Below are just a few obvious points that need to be avoided at all costs when building or even analyzing whether or not to participate in a link network.
Not Using Separate IP Addresses.
All Websites on The Same Physical Server Locations.
Identical “WHO IS” data.
Irrelevant or Duplicate Content.
Outbound Links To Non Related Websites.
The points listed above are just a few big items that can get a link network toasted quickly. For instance, I had access to a link network that was fairly low value. All the domains were expired and re-registered. I have no problem with that technique but what was ugly was the fact that the owner was blatantly linking to other sites in his network through the “blogrolls” of each site. While this technique could potentially add rankings and linking value to each site within the network its one of the biggest footprints you can leave which risks discovering your entire network.
My Experience With A Poorly Built Link Network
Let me first mention that i’m not against link networks. However, I rarely use them as the ones I can typically afford are ones that I believe are just waiting to get killed by Google. For instance – just a few days ago I saw that the majority of the websites within this “private” network mentioned above got de-indexed from Google. While I didn’t place a lot of value from these links I did purchase a few to help increase the amount of linking domains to one of my websites. Alternatively, the other goal was to increase anchor text diversity and page authority by sending the network links to other high domain authority websites (also known as tiered link building) with the goal of increasing the value of the links from these pages pointing directly to my valuable niche websites.
What was my experience with this network? I used this network for tiered link building for my canister vacuum amazon sitebut to a much lesser extent than the Google Adsense site I mentioned before that recently tanked. My goal was to pump some new life into that website but the direct links in my opinion were too low value to make a difference. My amazon niche website was doing really well from the very beginning and I was really unable to gauge the value of the tiered linking as it sat firmly in the top 3 for its primary keywords. I can tell you that since that network went down that my rankings have jumped up and down. In fact i’m wondering if there is anything within Google’s algorithm that hurts a website which is linked to from a website caught and de-indexed as part of a link network. I know it sounds fishy and its probably shear coincidence but its been in the back of my mind lately. I’m hoping that a few moderately and contextually relevant links back to the website will put things back to “normal”.
Should You Use Link Networks?
With all of that said. Would I use another link network? Yes and No. If I were to build out a network of websites myself that are relevant to my niche I would have no problem linking them to my niche websites. Not only would I be able to cover my own footprints but I believe I could do it in such a way that would pass a Google manual review as well. I don’t say this in the fact that I could “get away with it” but in the sense that I would make sure that my other sites add some sort of value which also coincidentally has a link back to my website. I say “NO” to using networks in the sense that I wouldn’t use anyone elses link network in the future. It’s far to risky IMO. I’ve always been a believer in quality links > quantity of links and if your paying $10 a link like I was then you should automatically assume the links are of very little value.
So there you have it. I got a little lazy, played with fire and potentially got burned. Do I think it will be short lived? Yes. Was it a lesson learned? Absolutely. In the end that’s what is most important to me. I would never use these types of tactics with my SEO clients but part of what I believe makes my services valuable is that I run all sorts of SEO tests. Some of course work better then others but everything is always worth testing.
What is your experience with link networks? Would you participate in one? If not what level of risk are you willing to take to rank and or make some cash?
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About Nick LeRoy
Nick LeRoy is the owner of Back Breaking SEO LLC a SEO company offering internet marketing services to small business owners.
In his free time he likes to build and monetize websites that allows his family an extra few dollars each month to enjoy the little "extras" in life. To learn more about Nick click here