Is it worth buying a link building package from an SEO company?
My maibox is awash with spam emails from Indian companies selling me a link building service. But today, my daily does of spam was accompanied by a rather sad little Tweet saying a Nottingham search marketing professional had been made redundant from her local web design agency.
And she was contemplating the influx of cheap SEO services from India. Indeed, go to Google and search for SEO India and you’ll find dozens of companies advertising cheap link building packages.
Small businesses are tempted to buy these cheap services, but there is nothing new under the sun, and as they say “you get what you pay for.” Cheap service could well mean cheap links, which won’t help your rankings, and could possible do harm.
We all know that inbound links influence your rankings in Google. But it isn’t the quantity of links, it’s the quality that does the influencing.
Every week I see examples of small business web sites that are ranking well in Google for their desired key phrases, they haven’t been playing the SEO game, and the site has only a few inbound links. Lurking in that list of links, however, will be the one or two golden links that are doing all the influencing of the results: trustworthy, authoritative, relevant sites linking in. These links arise naturally because of the business’ position in the community.
Will an SEO consultant in India be able to get you links from your local borough council? From your local university? From your professional association or accrediting bodies? Will the get you coverage in the BBC or Forbes or your professional press?
Be as careful in making the decision to use an Indian SEO company, as you would be careful in buying any service in the UK.
They all describe themselves as providing “ethical link building” – which should alert you to the fact that unethical link building will do more harm than good.
A quick survey of clients listed on some Indian firms are showing potentially poor quality link building activities. I took a look at their reference sites, and here is an example of the kinds of reciprocal links pages they are currently building. Think nasty, cheap link exchanging at its worst:
My advice? Buyer Beware.
Google is looking for high quality links, and my first port of call would be to get a through understanding of the authoritative sites in your sector. Getting just a few perfect links will far outweigh dozens or hundreds of scammy, useless links. You are probably better off using a professional, local SEO for just a few hours than getting into a long term contract with an offshore SEO firm.
Use a PR agency that has a sound understanding of how Google works to improve your profile, and drive visitors and links at the same time. I believe PR agencies are better at link building than web designers and more likely to get you those all important quality links than a foreign agency.
And finally, remember that Google has a long memory. What might be considered “ethical” but sailing close to the wind might get you slapped or banned by Google as it tweaks and adjusts its ranking algorithm.