21 Nov 2008

Jim Boykin: Paid Links Aren’t Worth It To Me

Two days ago Matt Cutts said, “The reality is that accepting money to link to/promote/market for a product without disclosing that fact is a very high-risk behavior, in my opinion.”

And I believe him€¦.big time€¦.I can tell you from first hand experience that buying links can be a “high-risk behavior”, and it can have very strong consequences.

In the past I always felt I was one step ahead of Google….for years I’ve tried to “be one” with my vision of the Google Gods, thinking that I was always one step ahead of Matt because my links were “under the radar”.

Years ago I used to worry about Google finding my links through connections in their algorithms… today, I’d worry more about my competitors “turning me in” to Google.  Even a Ninja-obfuscated paid link had better pass the review of all your competitors, otherwise, you could be put above the radar and possibly penalized by Google…. one wrong move today, or a technique used today and caught in the future, could spell your downfall tomorrow. I remember once Matt asking at a conference if anyone in the audience was working with sites that they could afford to burn….not many hands went up…and I can’t think of any of my clients handing us a site that they can afford to burn either.

So, the best thing for my company to do, if we want to stay out of the fire, is to make sure that We Build Pages adheres to the Google Guidelines, and that means we won’t be getting any more paid links for manipulating search engines.

On top of that, we’re also doing a major audit of our clients’ paid links (some we got, some the client/others got [done to client specifications, but any we feel could be construed as paid...now or later, we're suggesting be nofollowed or removed]), and we’re sending emails out to lots of places that are linking to our clients based on the data we’ve collected from our own audits, and from the clients data, seeking to have these links either nofollowed or removed.

It actually feels great to be following Google’s Guidelines. Any fears I once may have felt for Google, are now gone with my outlook on the future.  I can now bring We Build Pages to the level where I don’t have to worry about Google looking into anything I’m doing, and being upset…because I’m playing by Google’s rules now.

Oh, we’re still building links…that’s still the cornerstone of our business right now….we’re just not paying for any of them and are working on several techniques for getting links without even having to ask (create great content and they will link), as well as putting great resources in place to help people find out about this content.

The We Build Pages team has embraced this change and I have been lucky to have the right people, in the right positions, at the right time for this adjustment in our link building strategies. This can be evidenced by how many ninjas put in grueling hours over the past couple of weeks. It’s midnight on a Friday and four of us are still here getting the job done and done well!

We’re more than links though…oh, so much more. Why do you think I hired Patrick Sexton, the Google guideline guru and best Google gadget developer that I knew of? And Rhea Drysdale,  the person who I felt had the perfect balance between SEO and SEM skills? Or Lisa Barone, my favorite SEO blogger who can also assist our clients with community building? Or QualityGal, who brings the quality rater eyes to everything we publish….not to mention a team filled with all-stars in my eyes.

A few weeks ago we announced that we’re going through major changes at We Build Pages with our services, and today I’m happy to announce that We Build Pages has stopped buying links that are not within the Google Guidelines and are doing an audit, as well.

I plan to make We Build Pages the ultimate Internet Marketing company, and I don’t want to risk my business’ future by buying links…and if you’re worried about your site’s future, and you’re buying links, you might want to think twice. Buying links passed the tipping point long ago… you must get over it, and evolve, or be ready to face what might be coming your way.

I’m Feeling Lucky,
Jim Boykin