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Backlinks & Reviews: Things You Should Absolutely NEVER Purchase

Backlinks & Reviews: Things You Should Absolutely NEVER Purchase

When you ask a local search engine optimization company for surefire ways to improve your rankings, they will almost always tell you one of two things: get more backlinks and get more reviews. Sometimes, it can seem virtually impossible to get more of these crucial ranking signals, so we understand how or why it may be tempting to slip over to the dark side and consider purchasing them to boost your rankings, but we are here to stop you! Read on to find out why you will always pay dearly when you purchase backlinks and reviews. For more solid SEO tips, contact Smart WSI Marketing today!

Boycott Purchasing Backlinks

You Actually Can Get in Trouble For It!

Google actually has several guidelines in place against buying backlinks, and when Google says no to something, it’s a good idea to take that seriously. Otherwise, you will get penalized, and your website can end up being blacklisted. All of the hard work you’ve put into building and optimizing your website, and then growing your traffic can be ripped away in the blink of an eye.

They Will Likely Be Poor Quality & Irrelevant

The majority of the backlinks that are available for purchase aren’t actually going to be beneficial anyway. Quite often they will be in no way related to your business, or in another language. Neither of these will help your authority score nor will they bring relevant traffic to your website.

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How are you going to build trust and authority in your business if nothing linking to you is remotely related? These links just confuse search engines about what your website is actually about. Imagine your home improvement business is being endorsed by a jewelry retailer. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it? Not only are purchased links often irrelevant, but they are also often from spammy, low quality websites that will just drag your site down with them.

They Will Cost You

Buying backlinks, whether you are able to track down quality ones or not, is not a cheap endeavour. Not only are the cost of even low-quality backlinks themselves expensive, but consider what you will end up paying if your website is penalized and you have to recover it? Believe your local search engine optimization company when we say you are much better off investing your money into creating content that people actually want to link to in the first place!

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Short-term Gains, Long-term Losses

Sure, you might see a quick boost in your rankings, but remember, the risk of being caught looms eminent! Search engines are continually evolving to detect unnatural linking practices, and Google does not appreciate being cheated. Buying backlinks is essentially trying to game the system. It undermines the organic nature of search engines, which are designed to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality information. You won’t be getting that with subpar purchased backlinks! Once you get caught, it’s a long, expensive road ahead to recover from the repercussions from the search engine overlords.

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Resist Purchasing Reviews

Most business owners have received a message on Google Business on some point offering “HIGH QUALITY REVIEW SERVICES $99!” Do not fall for that. Google’s not going to allow that… and they take the idea of disingenuous reviews very seriously. You may think that a hundred bucks is nothing to spend on some reviews to boost your ratings, but in reality, fake reviews will cost you so much more on the long run!

Serious Trouble!

In addition to Google’s guidelines against buying backlinks, the search engine giant has even stricter polices around paying for reviews. Google is not the only one either. Nearly every major review platform (Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.) has incredibly strict policies in place banning the practice. You could potentially face fraud or false advertising charges for being caught purchasing reviews! This could result in the removal of your business listing, hefty fines, or even jail time.

What are You Talking About?

Purchased reviews often seem unnatural and just look out of place on your website. They’re usually either too intense, or too generic, and leave your potential customers thinking one of two things:

  1. “What are they even talking about?”
  2. “Who talks like that?”

That kind of defeats the whole purpose of a review! Online reviews are like digital word of mouth, and potential customers read them to find out what people have to say about your products and your business. They can tell pretty quickly if it’s not genuine, and once they do, they will not want to interact with you.  

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Trust Issues

These days, people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendation from a friend or family member. If they feel that a review is fake, that’s equivalent to being lied to. Why would they put their trust in your brand and give you their business if you’ve lied to them? How can they believe your product or service is a good as your purchased reviews claim? If it’s that good, why would you need to buy reviews to make yourself look good? Once you’ve lost your audience’s trust, you’ve also lost Google’s. If you’ve managed to skirt Google’s policies on buying reviews, but your user base can still tell they aren’t genuine, Google will still likely shun you.

Slap on the SEO Wrist

Keep in mind why reviews are great ranking signals; they are full of naturally keyword reach user generated content. But if they’re all wonky because they’re obviously fabricated, your rankings are going to tank. Search engines are constantly getting better at detecting patterns in fake reviews, and it’s only a matter of time before you get caught. This means all of the hard work you put into your SEO, even the honest work, goes down the drain!

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Short-term Gains, Long-term Losses

Like with purchased backlinks, you might see a quick uptick in your online reputation, but it's a ticking time bomb. Once you're caught, the damage to your reputation can have long-lasting effects that are incredibly hard to shake off. The money you spend on buying fake reviews could be better invested in improving your product or service, which would naturally lead to positive reviews and customer loyalty, or into your customer service. And before you argue that your customers just don’t leave reviews, let a local search engine optimization company let you in on a little secret. Most of the time, they are more than happy to do so, they just need a little nudge. So don’t be shy to ask for that review, and you will probably get it! Sometimes your review management strategy just needs a little revamping. That is also a much better investment than purchasing reviews outright!

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Black Hat Band-Aids

When you are desperate to improve your ranking, paying for shady black hat SEO techniques can seem like a quick and easy solution, however, the risks that come with that hefty price tag far outweigh the benefits. Black hat SEO tactics are band-aid solutions at best, and you will always get penalized for them when (not if, when!) you are caught. Not only do these practices violate various guidelines and policies, but they also put your reputation and hard work in serious jeopardy. Instead, focus on ethical and sustainable white hat strategies like creating high-quality content and delivering exceptional service. These are the keys to improving your online visibility and conversion rates in the long run. For more expert SEO advice call Smart WSI Marketing for a consultation today!

Lynne team member
Lynne Motkoski, Digital Marketing Strategist
Specialty: Digital Marketing Strategies
Education: MA Communications & Technology, BComm [U Alberta]
Author: The Online Marketing Handbook for Busy Entrepreneurs (coming soon)

Lynne is known for her strategic approach to marketing communications, technologies, and lead generation. She has a passion for education, keeping up with current marketing trends and practices, and helping clients keep ahead of their competition.

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