How to Compete with Link Spammers and Win

Published May, 28 2013

In many ways it’s still the Wild West out there when it comes to SEO, despite the latest Panda & Penguin updates. Unfortunately some of our clients suffer from spammy competitors, more widely referred to as “link spammers.” That’s why we figured a post about how to compete with link spammers was a good idea. Link spammers are sites that benefit from a high number of low-quality inbound links from numerous low-authority domains. As a result, search engines sometimes get the impression that the site being linked to must be of some value, even if the linking sites—usually laughably awful blogs—were set up for the sole purpose of creating that link.

How does this affect you? Link spammers can result in the frustrating situation where a high-quality site with few inbound links is outranked by a lesser site with numerous low-quality inbound links. Google is getting better at seeing through the ruse with every Panda update, making it easier to compete with link spammers, but it’s understandably difficult for bots to spot the difference between your average launched-and-forgotten blog and one specifically intended to manipulate search rankings.

So what are you supposed to do about link spammers? Linkbuilding is hard, tedious and ultimately may not be the most competitive mindset. I’m a real-life SEO, and just the thought of linkbuilding makes me want to take a snoozer. And on the other end of the spectrum, a strategy of link “earning” or creating relevant, authoritative content that people want to link to and share is exciting and highly advisable, but it is also difficult and resource intensive.

What’s left is a cross-functional opportunity to better integrate your normal business activities with your web presence and in the process help you compete with link spammers. Ask yourself, who in your industry vertical values your relationship? Which organization’s followers would benefit by knowing about your offerings? What other businesses can you team up with to promote a worthwhile cause? What nonprofits are you passionate about that you can sponsor with your time or dollars? What resources can you offer the local library? What kind of small event can you organize that the local paper and/or area blogs would cover, with pictures people would tag and share on Facebook?

This smart, marketing-first approach not only helps your search performance, it also reflects well on your brand and creates new opportunities for referring traffic. That’s something link spammers can never accomplish, but cross-functional SEO can.

Additional reading:

Link Building vs. Link Attraction

Screw Linkbuilding, It’s Called Relationship Building