So I figured it was just about time for me to sit down and finally write another post and just when I started to think about this I happened across a debate at the Keyword Academy forums about link farms and offered my two ‘godly’ cents.
First off I’ll start with the disclaimer:
I do not personally use, nor do I advocate the use of, link farms or any other link building method that seeks to manipulate Google’s system.
And I suppose with that disclaimer I should add another:
I do know there are many people who use link farms that make a lot of money and are very successful doing it. But what works today may get you banned tomorrow. So, proceed at your own risk!
With that out of the way let’s start with defining exactly what a link farm is:
- Traditionally: A network of self owned sites from which one links to another self owned site. Basically you buy a bunch of domains, post content on them, and use them to send anchored links to your money site in order to climb the SERPs.
- Self hosting domains
- Modern: A network of sites which you have paid access to from which you can post links to your sites. Basically you pay some money to someone for access to their large network of sites, you write articles (some spun, some 100% unique), and in those articles you can link to your own sites.
- Build My Rank
- Postrunner at The Keyword Academy
- Broad: Any site that allows people to post content in exchange for anchored ‘do-follow’ links back to their own sites. Basically you give us something we give you something, so no matter how you slice it that does fall in a broad definition of link farming.
So anyway now that all that preliminary junk is out of the way, the first assertion that I was arguing against was that Google could algorithmically sniff out link farms easily and either a) devalue their links or b) deindex the farms completely. I suppose this is not an unreasonable assumption, Google works with an algorithm as the base of their search and they do that pretty well. The problem for Google arises because allowing a few link farm websites ‘costs’ (in creditability, algorithmic accuracy, annoyance of people) them far less then the alternative of wiping out all link farms and causing some collateral damage as well. I agree that Google has an interest in getting rid of bad links, and getting rid of programs like BMR is one of Matt Cutts’ goals as spam king. I don’t think Google will ever be able to wipe out these types of farms completely, but if they can get rid of even some of the sites these programs use then there is some devaluation of the linking power over time so people who use these techniques need to know that over time rankings will slip if they don’t keep building links and therefore their income isn’t truly passive.
The other argument that ensued was the debate over whether or not the postrunner system constituted a ‘link farm’ of sorts. Let’s not kid ourselves about the difference people, PRN is designed to manipulate googles system therefore it’s always at risk too, which is why high standards are maintained and people need to be sure to keep the junk off their sites or some of them may be devalued or deindexed as well.
Anyway the point is that if you use link farms I wouldn’t suggest relying on them solely and you should always be trying to grow your natural link profile. It’s the only safe way. And remember the best way, and the only completely risk free way, to get any backlink is to get them naturally by providing high quality original content on your site!
–Justin (and Trent)