Lately we have had quite a few clients who did not know that their sites are link farms. They were kept in the dark by the fraudulent SEO companies and freelancers cheating them about the links created. We at Lowcostseo always tell everyone not to take any shortcuts in getting to the top as its easy playing safe using White hat SEO techniques and harder to cheat their way to the top. Google and other search engines do not like sites that artificially increase their page ranks by simply buying and adding lots of links to it. This is what we call Link farms. People who do not know, please understand that linking to such farms will lower your page ranks and also lead to your site getting devalued and penalized too.
Now, one client asked me how to check if a site has been linked to a Link farm? and he said this is from an inexperienced individual.point of view. I told him an easy trick in doing so, download the Alexa toolbar or visit Alexa.com. Here enter the domain name and you will see the links there and also the Page rank too. If you notice a site with hundreds of backlinks and zero pagerank and see that the site has been there for a while then its a sure sign the something is wrong here. You will then notice despite that many backlinks that site's pagerank is still zero and that will give an indication of foul play on the site. Also i suggest to install a toolbar to keep an eye on the page ranks on various sites so that you will understand how Google sees those sites with regards to importance and quality links too.
The higher the pagerank the less likely the site will be a link farm so keep this in mind. You may want to link into sites that have higher page ranks then yours. The rule of the thumb is that if the site has a pagerank of zero then simply don't link to it. In most cases when the site has page rank zero, it could be due to several factors:
1. Either it is a link farm or a bad neighbourhood
2. The site could be a new site and not yet ranked
3. The datacenter used to check the page rank must be down.
if you are unsure whether you site is a Link farm or not then contact us and we'll have a look for you for FREE.
Here is an image from Techgyd showing what exactly is a Link Farm.
We all hopefully by now know the detrimental effect Link farms can have on one’s site, but the question is how can you identify if a site is a link farm or not? There are a few tips such as when they ask you to post 100-200+ links on your site, please do not do it. They are indirectly asking you to turn your website into a link farm, which will have a negative effect on your site and eventually get you banned from Google.
We sometimes term Link farms as “Poison”. Many of our clients talk about getting requests for reciprocal links which some ignore and some sadly fall for it. We never advise to ignore it but check if the person writing has a good page rank and the content is unique too. Then only you can somewhat consider, otherwise bin them.
Some people do not understand the severity of getting attached to a Link farm, Google will pick right away that the links seem to be automatically created and that there seems to be no control over them. However there is one other debate that goes on: we comprehend that linking to a web farm can hurt you but it may not be the other way around. I mean a webmaster simply has no control over who is linking to them and in this scenario search engines will not obviously penalize for that.
A webmaster once told us that in some countries it is easy to get away with web link farms then others because Google does not really have that much influence or presence over it so it does not really monitor it. Well, this is surely a false statement, because when Google sets the Algorithm changes it’s done worldwide not just for UK or USA. If that was the case then many companies would have used the domain names associated with those countries to get a higher stake in Google’s rankings.
Some people do not even know about the “Link farms” or ever heard it before. I do not blame you as only the SEO experts or people interested in learning about SEO will have come across this terminology before. So, as a good suggestion please avoid at all cost otherwise your Page Rank will disappear very quickly. Talking from experience, we have a few clients who did not even know their sites were linked to a Link farm until we told them so and explained to them what had been done to tarnish their site’s reputation on the search engines.
I noticed a worrying trend with Link farms in relation to those websites that had got SEO outsourced abroad. Everyone wants results on Page 1, yet when asked about their SEO budget, they want to pay as little as possible. I do not understand those customers who want to earn thousands via their site yet pay a few quid a month for SEO. They need a reality check here as SEO is the most important aspect in marketing and creating visibility for your website. I have noted people paying as little as $50 for SEO to offshore companies and ask myself If they (customers) know what exactly is being done on their website?
Another customer told us “Why can’t Google and other search engines just ban the Link farm sites”? Well, we all webmasters want this too but you simply cannot stop people cheating can you? I have always said in all my blogs that it is easier to play fair and harder to cheat.
There is a debate going on about what exactly does Google penalize! It surely penalizes the farm, more so then the links on it. Most of the farms that we have heard of or seen have been set-up so that the links are constantly added by the link holders. This is all done pretty much deliberately so that the site owners continuously get more incoming links. In case you are wondering that you site was added to someone’s list of links and that site is not a link farm then that incoming link will not get you anything worthy (if page rank is zero or below) nor will it be detrimental for you.
For real quality link authority, you can try to find a top quality site which in your desired industry then simply purchase a contextual link or banner advert on the site. This way you get a good link which will be adding positively to your SEO process and also generating good traffic too.
All in all, I advise everyone to stay clear of any Link farms out there. Be fair and get ranked or try to cheat and get penalized. Choice is yours!