Link Farm: How It Affects SEO?
We all know that a well-established backlink catalog is a must, especially when it comes to building authority. Backlinks also help improve search engine rankings. However, it is equally important to resist the urge to take potentially harmful shortcuts to backlink success, like a link farm.
Note that link farm is one of the shadier tactics marketers sometimes use to build an extensive backlink catalog quickly. Knowing that link farming does far more harm than good in the long run to your website is crucial.
Link Farm: What Is It?
As a website owner, you know how important link building is to your ongoing SEO efforts. Backlinks are valuable signals telling search engines that your website is worthwhile.
Link farms are not there to get a message out or provide valuable content for the people. Instead, they are just sham websites that people explicitly create to add to the backlink catalogs of legitimate websites.
Backlinks are valuable signals that will tell search engines your website is helpful. They are proof that people not only visit your site and read your content but also like it enough to link to it. They also recommend it to others.
But with time, Google and the rest of the search engines are getting smarter. They know the difference between an organic backlink you have genuinely earned and a shortcut with no actual value behind it.
Link farms are perhaps one of the shadier tactics marketers often use to build an extensive backlink catalog quickly. Note that link farming can do more harm than good to your website. So think twice before you make a move.
What is link farming?
A link farm is primarily a group of websites that all link to the other websites in the group. Their purpose is to increase rankings in search results or SERPs. Mainly, this technique is a black-hat technique. Meaning it is considered as a manipulative technique. It is also considered a form of spam, and search engines like Google usually penalize those websites involved in link farms.
It is essential to know that farms often contain websites that were created for the sole purpose of linking to other websites. They aim to boost their positions in the SERPs. Even though these websites’ content is unrelated to other content, they rank higher. However, they do not provide any value to users. In short, such content exists to give a backlink to other websites.
Link Farm: Why Do They Exist?
Do you know that link farming is an old search engine optimization or SEO tactic? Some SEO agencies still use it today. This link-building technique is less reliable and clever than those who use it would claim.
People created link farms as they thought it was a way to manipulate this part of the algorithm. In reality, many of the most significant link farms have already been taken down. However, the sites they linked to also suffered severe penalties.
To understand that it is not an effective link-building technique, you must first ask what link farming is. What are the means to identify a link farm, and why do people generally use them?
Why do link farms exist? When ranking websites, Google uses an algorithm that checks how many backlinks a website has received. This complete process contributes to a website’s authority. Once a website is seen as more authoritative if more websites link to its content.
In short, these backlinks are considered to endorse that site. It helps the website to rank higher in organic search results.
Using this concept, link farms were created as a way with the sole purpose of manipulating this part of the algorithm. It is essential to know that many of the most significant link farms have already been taken down. As a result, the sites linked to these farms have suffered severe penalties.
The Beginning of Search Engines
In the beginning, there were web directories like Yahoo. They were the equivalent of Yellow Pages for the Internet. Then came search engines.
When search engines began roaming the earth, they were stupid creatures. The first known Internet search engine was Archie. As a user, you could submit a search query to Archie, such as “brain,” and Archie would return any files – text files, images, etc. which continued the word “brain” in it.
The journey was long from Archie to the earliest Web search engines, such as Excite, WebCrawler, and Lycos. All of these search engines were simply expansions of Archie.
But then came the dark days of the meta keyword tag. During that period, keyword tags told search engines what your web page was all about. So as a website owner, you can insert several keyword tags. The intent of the keyword tag was good but was misused by the website owners.
With time, website developers of search engines began to realize that the power to determine the usefulness of a website should no longer rest in the hands of the owners. They discovered that the whole world or the end user should hold power. The entire world should judge the sites that were good or bad.
But how could a search engine know which websites are helpful? Search engine makers became more cautious. They realized that when people think something on the Internet is good, they usually want other people to know. And you do that by posting links to these exciting sites on your sites. Thus, came the age of the backlinks.
How to Identify a Link Farm?
You can quickly identify a link farm by the shallow content they contain. You can also judge them by the vast array of topics they cover, which are also unrelated.
There are other ways too. Such pages may also contain pages that are just lists of links. Moreover, their domain might have a name that is a nonsensical series of numbers and letters.
There are several ways you can make out a link farm.
1 Evaluate the overall quality of a website
Note that websites within a link farm always have poorly written or computer-generated content. They usually could look better. Moreover, they use a template design with little to no customization. They also have a cheap Top-Level Domain or TLD like .top or .xyz.
2 Look for the website’s“about” information
Note that link farm websites will have anonymous authors or otherwise they would display fake author profiles using stock photography. Moreover, these websites will not offer contact info.
3. Check the anchor texts
Another important signal for a link farm website is unnatural anchor texts within its webpage content. The website’s SEO is probably manipulating links if most of the anchor texts are keyword-rich. Hence, the website is likely part of a link farm.
Link Farm: Important for SEO?
When you get a link from a website – first and foremost, make sure that the site does not belong to a link farm. There are a few methods you can check for the same.
It is a way to introduce links that SEO professionals in return for cash arrange. Link farming is vital for SEO as it is one of the quickest ways to promote a business quickly. Note that artificially ranked websites are often products of link farming, which do not have quality content.
You may have several questions as to how it will affect SEO.
Are link farms important for SEO?
By now, you understand that link farming is a manipulative black-hat SEO technique not supported by search engines. However, Google is only sometimes able to catch unnaturally built links. Therefore, many SEOs still make link farms.
Note that the tactic is prevalent in industries where it is generally hard to build links naturally, especially in the loans, gambling, loans, and adult industries.
When Google recognizes a link farm, it can penalize not just the websites within the link farm but also the websites the link farm is linking to. The whole network can be punished. That is the reason webmasters and white-hat SEOs need to learn how to detect them and, at the same time, avoid getting backlinks from them.
Is link farming legal?
A question many of you may ask. It is important to note that link farming is prohibited by all search engines’ Webmaster guidelines. Google has clearly stated that violating its guidelines with link schemes – will have a negative impact on your website’s ranking in the search results.
Keeping this in mind means that participating in schemes like this may make your site rank lower in the SERPs. It is primarily due to the penalties imposed by search engines. These penalties will take a lot of work to remove and can impact your site for a long time, so it’s best to avoid link farms and similar schemes.
Link Farm: Are They Worth The Risk?
Considering the risk of a penalty, it is recommended not to depend on those existing external domains. Their only purpose is to manipulate search engines. That is the reason why search engines hate link farms with a passion.
These domains have become typical offerings from thousands of good and bad SEO companies. If you pay for bad backlinks, you will surely pay someone else much more to remove them.
These domains have become common offerings from thousands of SEO companies – both good and bad. If you pay for bad backlinks, you are surely going to end up paying someone else much more money to remove them for you.
If you are lucky enough, they can fix the problem. Otherwise, you will spend thousands of dollars to have your old site burned to the ground. In addition, starting from scratch – a new location on a new domain with zero backlinks is a long story. All your work to build your site up will be gone.
Do not do it. Refrain from falling prey to the temptation of easy and cheap backlinks. Run far away, and earn your backlinks the right way. Earn them through digital marketing, social media marketing, networking, inbound marketing, and other proven and simple strategies.
Are they worth the risk?
In the end, you should be aware of the risks. The risk of penalty is enormous if you depend on those existing external domains. If the webmaster takes those domains down, your website might experience a temporary drop in rankings.
Experts believe it is less painful than recovering from a penalty that Google may place on your domain – once they discover this practice. Unfortunately, you will not be able to predict how far that drop might be. However, it is enough to know that you will be far below the site rankings before the link farm was created.
It is always best to stay ahead in the game and get results. Your audience does not say the same over time, nor does Google. Meaning if you are serious about staying ahead of the game, then your SEO strategy can not stand still. It means you should stay on top of the emerging trends in marketing, SEO, and evolving consumer needs.
Keep an eye on the SEO trends to know what is the latest. You should also know how to optimize your website and create compelling interactive content experiences. All such activities will propel you to the top of Google SERPs.