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Are backlink services worth the time and money?

SEO experts have struggled with a big, recent upgrade to Google that directly affects the way link building works, and how effective backlink services are.

That update, called Google Panda or Google Farmer, has only been in effect a few months. All the same, it’s created a revolution on online marketing thinking already.

That’s because it puts into action the credo that Google reps (usually chief search quality engineer Matt Cutts) are always saying: Search engines will reject content or links that are of low quality.

But that hasn’t always been the case. In the past, website builders have been able buy backlinks in bulk, thousands at a time, usually linking to all different types of websites, no matter their subject matter or relevance. And it would work; it was a legitimate way to build SEO strength.

But no more. Google’s smarter. With the new updates, it now knows a poor quality link from a good quality link, and it’ll rank your website accordingly.

With that in mind, then, is it even worth it to use backlink services anymore? Or should marketers focus their SEO efforts in other, more productive ways?

What still works

For good, all-around marketers who focus on backlinks as part of a larger SEO strategy, Google Panda shouldn’t be a very big deal. Because these guys know about SEO and don’t just send links to your site in bulk throughout the net, they’re really not using a strategy that would involve bulk backlinking anyway.

Instead, real SEO pros know to focus on building backlinks via:
Social media
Blogging and blog commenting
Article marketing

So, if you partner with an SEO expert that realizes that backlink services have evolved, and who can provide backlinks specific to your niche and to sites with high PageRanks, you’re still in good shoes.

The problem is that such services, comprehensive as they are, don’t usually come cheap. Marketers are often tempted to go with the cheaper backlink providers, then. But if you make that choice, keep the following in mind …

What doesn’t work

The more automated a backlink service is, the worse it’ll be. In the past, it was possible to create backlinks all throughout the internet in bulk. But that doesn’t work as well as it once did.

Those bulk backlink services, now called link farms, are specifically what Google is trying to eliminate with its Google Panda update.

And all those changes are designed to improve search quality. By reducing the effectiveness of bulk links to sites with low PageRank, the search visitor benefits, because the results they see are to higher-quality sites.

It’s hard to argue with that goal. And if it means the demise of link farms, so be it. Affiliate marketers who still rely on bulk backlink services would be well-advised to look to other SEO tactics. Stay tuned to the CAP Blog for advice on doing just that.

The final word is yours

Do you disagree? Maybe you’re still having decent luck with your old-fashioned backlink service provider, or maybe you’re an SEO engineer who can call Matt Cutts’ bluff. If so, sound off and share your expertise with the CAP community.