About a year and a half ago I wrote an article called TrustRank and the Company You Keep which offered an image showing how many of the cheesy "buy PageRank here" type general directories were not well meshed into the web. That same image can be extended well beyond directories. Article submissions, reciprocal links, press releases, and other low effort low cost links put your site in a community of low trust sites. Even if the source originally had great trust, if they offer much greater value than cost, market forces such as:
- other marketers using the same marketing techniques to promote low quality sites
- improving relevancy algorithms
are going to neutralize the value. And then all you are left with is the risk.
Worse yet, a new site which is heavily co-cited alongside low quality sites may never be able to build enough quality votes to offset all of the votes of non-quality. So after you gain too many garbage votes, even when you decide to splash out to put the effort in or spend the money necessary to get quality votes it may not matter. The site status may be beyond repair.
And as long as you think of SEO as I need links I need links I need links then you are going to be more inclined to pick up a disproportionate volume of junky links, especially if you are not thinking of the web as a large social network. If you know your market well enough to read market demands then it is much easier to get editorial links that will hold value, and perhaps even increase in value as relevancy algorithms evolve.
Nothing is absolute of course, but it is all ratio driven. If the first thing you do with your site is put it in a community of low trusted sites then you are going to need to work much harder to develop a trusting relationship with Google. If you go for quality first then you have more room for error down the road.
Each engine has its own values which determine the quality of a link. Google is typically the best at scrubbing link quality, and Microsoft is generally no good at it. If the market seems so saturated that you think Google will be prettymuch out of reach no matter what you do, then it might make sense to concede Google rankings and be a bit more aggressive with getting bulk low quality links to dominate Yahoo! and MSN.
When I started with SEO I ranked for search engine marketing inside of 9 months on like $300 just by getting whatever spammy links I could that had PageRank, but Google's algorithms have long since evolved. The fact that many votes count as negative votes means that you can't just pick off the easiest links pointing at competing sites and catch up that way. You have to get some of their higher quality links right away to have a good enough of a trust-to-junk ratio for the bad stuff not to whack you.
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