So I got a call today from a person who wanted to automate a large link network system. They wanted to find a way we could work together, but I think the bulk automated links are not the way to go forward for most websites.
It is fairly hard to automate a scalable solution that:
- search algorithms won't detect and
- search editors won't detect and
- people would want to link at
Sure you do not need people to want to link at it to have some value, but if you can't create something that people would be willing to link at it is going to be a constant battle trying to look authentic.
- More and more of the cheap links get bought up by sites trying to be hollow middlemen. After they are bought up, buying additional links gets logarithmically more expensive. You can't grow with the web, at least you can't if you value your time. Thus the value of links from some link networks would diminish logarithmically over time.
- Search algorithms get smarter and devalue more and more of the cheap & easy links.
- Other webmasters hunt out the cheap and easy links, lowering their value and making them easier for other webmasters to find.
- People are going to start mass pirating large quantities of RSS content to create semi authentic looking keyword net sites and link farms which will require algorithms to get much smarter at determining which links are legitimate.
A while ago I wrote that I thought if you had enough junk links that it could place a penalty on your site, but I am not sure how well that idea scales.
In some industries you can't help but get tons of scrapper links by just creating a site. Instead of trying to asign much of a negative weighting search engines may try to just discount the junk links as best they can.
Also, if people scrape the search results and link to all the top 20 listed sites it will not have much of an effect on the relevancy of those top ranked sites since they are all gaining the same links.
When you think about how the web scales, most every well ranked legit site in a competitive market will have many junk inbound links. Need proof? Look at the co-occuring links pointing at the top ranked sites for generic terms in your field.
The biggest way where I think junk links will hurt sites is if they do not have enough legitimate links to offset the effects of the junk links. It is especially easy for that type of effect to occur if you have few links or have not been mixing your anchor text.
- give away stuff; or
- give people something to talk about; or
- create content around linking opportunities
than it is buy ads, and that is a huge idea most websites seem to be missing out on. Instead of spending so much time figuring out what the latest spam techniques research is about many webmasters would be better off creating something people would want to link at.
Then again, some people who are uber proficient search spammers will always stay one step ahead of the algorithms. It is all about playing off of your strenghts and finding what you love to do.
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