SEO — Can Trading Links Hurt My Google Rank?

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I’m more surprised than ever, after years of Google algorithm changes, that people–professionals still shy away from networking with relevant bloggers.

If you’re trying to land on page one of Google for any given search term, you know that Google’s algorithm determines who deserves to be on page one based largely on the quantity and quality of the links to any url.

If you know enough to be dangerous (to yourself) you may have watched a few of Matt Cutts’ videos in Youtube. He basically says that if you get links from spammy websites and porn sites, your rank will drop. Then he introduces the “disavow link” tool in Google. In other videos he says that Google will crack down on secret networks and private link trade networks that attempt to “game” Google results.

Well, knowing just this much is what makes more SEO Services companies dangerous.

Most SEO consultants and bloggers and social media consultants now recommend that you only link to and accept links from KNOWN and TRUSTED bloggers.

That’s exactly what Google wants you to believe.

It takes months to build trusted content partnerships. Essentially, this means you’ll never have enough time to earn enough high quality links to impact your rank by a single rung. The consequence then, as a professional? You have to spend money on Adwords.

So what’s the real story then?

Will Google penalize you for trading links with people you just met online?

Think about the question for one moment. That IS the assumption of most professional “SEO experts” and “social media experts” today.

How the hell would Google know if you just met a dude or if he was in your platoon in ‘nam?!

Let’s say you DID know the blogger you want to trade links with since primary school. How would you know that your definition of what makes a high credibility and high relevance site is the same as Google’s definition?

What I’m saying is that even if you think that a website’s reputation is high and that a link from said website is good for your Google rank, you could be wrong. So logically, the reverse also applies. Even if you think a website is spammy and that a link from that website is harmful to your rank, you could be wrong.

At this point, the professionals who know enough to be dangerous (to themselves and their clients) will say, “well, in Google Webmaster Tools, it tells me that this link and that link are bad for my rank.” I respond to that by asking a question–two: “Have you removed those links? Did your rank go up?”

You can guess the answer.

Has removing the links that Google Webmaster Tools recommend that you remove helped your Google Rank?

We tried negative SEO on several test urls. Nothing we did, even getting links from porn sites, damaged the rank of any of the sites we tested. In fact, adding spammy links actually made the rank of our test urls go UP.

Removing the links that Google says is harmful does not boost your Google rank. And adding links from sites and blogs that may be of questionable quality can actually raise your rank. I’d give you some test data to back up my claim but I think Matt Cutts saved me some labor: here.

If questionable links from questionable sites can actually raise your Google Search rank, isn’t it pretty clear that links from reputable blogs that are RELEVANT to your target keywords are worth getting–even if you just met the owner of said blog?

“Never miss an opportunity to network” — Harvard.

Remember: Networking and asking a blogger to write about you is organic too. It’s called PR.

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