LinkHelpers SpamHaving established links are like votes it's not too hard to understand why links are important. Just like a politician wins an election by securing more votes than other candidates, web pages secure the first position in a search result by securing more votes than other pages. However, unlike a political election where all votes are equal, where search engines are concerned this isn't the case, and this is where most of the confusion arises.
In order to explain this further I'm going to stick with the voting analogy and expand on it. When thinking about links as votes it's useful to consider the term block vote or block voting. Most commonly associated with unions a block vote infers upon one person the voting rights of all members of an organisation. Let's say there are 4 people in a room each representing one group of people.
A proposal is put before the group and Mr Smith, Mr Jones and Ms Samson all vote in favour with Mrs Collins voting against. On the face of it that's 3 in favour 1 against and the proposal would be carried. However, Mrs Collins represents a group of 5000 people, 500 more than the number represented by Mr Smith, Mr Jones and Ms Samson so in fact, the motion isn't carried, it's defeated by 5000 votes to 4500.
This is pretty much the same as the way links work. Simply put links carry different voting rights and it's perfectly possible for a page with only 3 or 4 links to rank higher than a page with several hundred or even several thousand links. It's this aspect of link building that's so badly misunderstood and the reason there's a whole industry offering to build links on the basis of X number of links for Y number of dollars.
There are two clear paths to go down with respect to link building, link spam and merit based. It should be clear link spam will require less effort but won't build long lasting links where merit based requires more effort but builds links that will stand the test of time. The path you choose will depend on many factors not least of which the resources you have available and your appetite for building a business that will stand the test of time.
The search engines are continuously trying to purge their search results of pages employing link spamming techniques although it's clear they have a less than 100% success rate. The link building methods you adopt will depend on your view of how effective the search engines will be at detecting link spam in the future. If you believe they have the resources to overcome it you are left with no option but to build merit based links. If you believe as many do, that the search engines are fighting a losing battle then you might throw your hat in the ring with the link spammers.
Hopefully now you've read this article whichever route you choose you can make an informed choice. If you take nothing else away from it you should understand that links that require minimum effort will likely bring little benefit in the long term. Link building is a cause of much frustration even for SEO specialists and it's easy to see why so many spam techniques are employed. The web is awash with poor quality content created for no other reason than to create a link to poor quality websites that can't attract links based on merit. Indeed many website owners simply can't see a way of creating anything worth linking to on their sites and resort to link spam out of desperation. This author believes there's a better way and ultimately taking this road less travelled will create a website that will stand the business it represents well for the future.