Links are the lifeblood of the internet. Every link pointing to a website, whether it’s from a directory, blog or website, can help build the site’s perceived strength to a search engine. The relevance of the link and the strength of the site that provided the link help determine the benefit (commonly measured in Page Rank).

The offer seems amazing – a company or individual will, for a modest fee, get your business website hundreds or even thousands of high-quality incoming links practically overnight. Huge traffic increases, a jump in Google PageRank, higher search engine placement – what’s not to love about this deal? Enter a credit card number and select a package, click the button, and wait for the customers to come rolling in!

Unfortunately, what is likely to come rolling in is a host of spam links, extortion attempts, and your site cratering in the search rankings as Google identifies you as a “black hat” site and throws you into the online holding cell with the other miscreants.

Are all link-building services scams? No – in fact, link building is a highly-valued service that many reputable SEO services or companies will highlight. But effective link-building is hard work that takes time and effort – anybody offering to do it for you on the cheap or with improbable stories of immediate success and huge numbers, is almost certainly lying to you.

What are the signs that a link-builder is trying to scam you? Here are three dead giveaways:

  • Sauce for the Goose

Look at the PageRank and incoming links for their site. If they have a low PR and/or don’t have quality incoming links for their own business, it is very unlikely that they can deliver any good links to you.

  •  Socially Dysfunctional

Many services claim that they will promote your site and deliver high PageRank by placing articles and stories on social network sites and forums. But nearly all forums and social sites place “No-Follow” tags on their posts – and no follow links have no impact on your website’s PageRank. In other words, they’re lying and assuming you don’t know any better.

  • Testimonial Bologna

Check out the glowing testimonials on the company’s own web site. Are there are a lot of hail-to-the-King testimonials that don’t come with a URL to an active website? Facts that don’t add up, like people saying they’ve worked with the service for five years, but linking to a website that was started just last year? The sites that they do link to seem to still have low PR and low placement on search results?

It’s often worthwhile to have someone engage in the hard work of link building for your business website. But don’t be fooled – it’s not easy to do. If a company is offering to build links for you on the cheap, be weary.

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