A few bad backlinks can hurt your organic search results and you may not know it.
Yesterday I was having a conversation with a competitor. Due to a rules change in California and the Covid mess our costs went up and so I had to make the decision to raise prices. Our competitor had done the same thing and we were discussing the possibility of working together to reduce costs.
Admittedly they have a solid SEO automation system. The problem with automation systems is they don’t understand context. Backlinking to websites with articles or focus that are out of context doesn’t work. Google has been fine tuning the search algorithm for many years. They run supercomputers that now understand context.
What does that mean and isn’t all backlinking good?
Backlinking is the practice of putting content on another website and linking it to your website. If you click on the hyperlinked word “backlinking” you went to our SEO website. That is a proper backlink because it connected to a site selling backlinking services and came from an article about backlinking. The source and linked site are in the same context.
There is a lot of discussion about what makes a bad backlink. The most popular is the DA ranking of the source website. If your website already has a higher DA, then many say the post and link on a lower DA site can lower your score. Only engineers at Google know this for sure, but I disagree.
If you post thousands of backlinks to very low DA websites, I don’t think it really hurts. It is just a waste of money and doesn’t help. The bigger problem is that most of those websites are also completely out of context.
From time to time we experiment with subcontractors and our competition on our own projects. This helps us understand what is working and what isn’t. It also makes sure we don’t miss out on a new SEO technique somehow. While rare it has happened.
We Experiment On Our Own Websites So You Don’t Have Too
COOLTOYS® TV is one of those sites. We hired different subcontractors for “high DA” backlinking campaigns. What we got was hilarious, sad and outright wrong. Yes some of the websites had higher DA that CoolToys.TV did, but the CoolToys organic placement dropped.
The reason was the “expert” subcontractor posted articles which had nothing to do with CoolToys or what the series is about. The articles were out of context. The next one we hired did watch the show and write articles that were in context but placed them on websites that were not.
The web series is all about the cool toys that guys find and wives hate. It started with a set of LED headlights for my Jeep® that my wife thought were stupid. 150,000 views later, maybe not so much. Posting an article about the new roof rack on the Jeep on a cooking website is totally out of context. My bet is that Google ignores the article and so the link gets zero credit or worse, you get dinged for article stuffing. Something like getting hit for keyword stuffing.
The discussion came up with my competitor because we had each picked up a small business challenge. The challenge is that many small business owners go to websites like Fiverr or UpWork to hire out jobs they don’t do regularly. SEO is one of them. Without knowing how to hire, they buy a “backlinking campaign” from an “expert” in a foreign country for a few dollars.
The Small Business Challenge
The small business challenge that came my was was a local business that actually disappeared from google search. If you put their name in the search bar they wouldn’t show up. You needed to know the url and type it in correctly. It turned out that an automated backlinking program posted irrelevant content on thousands of low da websites that were out of context.
The small business owner showed me the “report” of all the “great backlinks” he had. When I ran the report in our software and showed it to her, all 2500 backlinks came up red. Bad location, out of context. Google had “sandboxed” her website. It didn’t take long to fix it, but it was no easy task. First we had to remove as many of the bad backlinks as possible. Next we needed to create 40 or 50 really high quality links.
To do that we needed a dozen well written articles about her business. Those were then cut, edited and tweaked to insure they were all different. Finally we had to find websites within the range of context and get the content posted with the proper links. We threw in a couple of good press releases for good measure.
Don’t pay for bad backlinks. It can cost two or three times as much to fix than it would to just do it right the first time.