Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam Team posted a tweet that should fill users of link networks (and those who employ them) with dread:
Thinking of ghost-related puns for a spam network. “They try to look super natural, but using them will dampen your spirits.”
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) August 29, 2013
That seemingly innocuous tweet has given rise to widespread speculation that users of a massive Russian link network, SAPE, will soon be penalized by Google. There’s no guarantee that this will happen, but the wording of Cutts’ tweet has many people thinking that this veiled threat might not be idle.
SAPE certainly wouldn’t be the first link network to feel the wrath of Google’s ire. But that’s not the point. The most important question to ask yourself is this: do you want to subject your web presence to possible extinction every time the powers-that-be at Google wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Does horse racing figure prominently in your investment portfolio? Did you build your dream home on a pile of sand? Do you vacation every year on Krakatoa? If you answered yes to any of those questions, using link networks like SAPE might be worthwhile.
Heavy-handed metaphors aside, using link networks to boost your search ranking leaves your site vulnerable. There might be short-term benefits to using link networks like SAPE, but there’s a clear downside – you’ll have a web presence so volatile that you’ll be left reading between the lines of each of Matt Cutts’ tweets to determine whether your site will be penalized.
When faced with a significant amount of work, it’s human nature to look for shortcuts. Contrary to popular belief attorneys are human, and therefore are subject to the same temptations as everybody else. That’s why networks like SAPE exist. For some, the temptation of SAPE’s forbidden fruit will be too great, but most would do well to avoid it.
We consistently emphasize to our customers that creating a great user experience with high-quality content is the best way to sustainably improve their search rankings and web presence for the long haul. There’s no denying that this method requires some hard work (unless you hire a Pro), but you’ll ensure that your site isn’t subject to every punitive whim of Google’s search algorithm.