The Art of Eluding Google: Is It Even Possible?

by Paul Teitelman July 1st, 2008 

OK, I’ve had it with link building; I’m done. Tossing in the towel. Waiving the white flag, no fight left in this link ninja. Google, you win!

Ever feel like your link building efforts are going to waste? Are you worried that the latest link you worked so hard to build might prove to be DAMAGING to your site? Trying hard to get ahead in the SERP’s but confused by the massive amount of backlink offers and other "automatic link building software" readily available on Digitalpoint and other webmaster forums?

Well you’re not alone! Link building as we all know it is one of the most important factors in SEO. If you want to compete on Google and show up in the SERP’s you will need the right quantity of QUALITY links. (Notice how the emphasis is on QUALITY) Oh and did I mention that you can’t take a break? Well, maybe a quick one just to stretch your wrists. But since link development strategies are always adapting, a good link ninja needs to consistently develop their arsenal of weaponry.

Now this brings us back to the grand ol’ debate of blackhat vs. whitehat SEO tactics but we’ll save that discussion for another time. Either way, at the end of the day it’s all about whose on top of the SERP’s, and more importantly, how long they are able to maintain their position over their competitors.

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This brings me to my beef with the big kahuna, Google, and their constant efforts to penalize ‘text-link ads,’ or other paid links or reviews.

My question is this:

What’s the big difference between directory submissions and “paid” text-links? I mean, Google penalizes both directories and bloggers, but they generally seem WAY MORE lenient with directory submissions as opposed to ‘text link ads’. I examined the underlying reasons for this and became even more puzzled. Consider:

Google wants Links to be Niche-Related

Directories have categories for absolutely everything, so eventually you’ll find your niche and then you can scroll down to ‘submit URL’, pay a few bucks and within a few days your site will be “approved” and listed in the directory. Pretty tough right? Didn't think so…

Whereas blogs are far more niche-focused, and there isn’t a magical “submit here” button that allows you to include your link after paying a fee. Yet Google favours directories, hmmmm interesting…let’s continue:

Google insists Directory Links must be Human-Reviewed and Approved

Google insists that the human review is one of the most important processes involved with directory submissions. They say that this should deter spammers and should increase the credibility of the sites. Well I for one just don’t buy it. I have yet to be rejected by a directory. However, webmasters and bloggers reject me on a daily basis and vice versa. I even got this message today from a high authority site that refused to place my link although the client is a high ranking authority site with Google:

“The client behind that firm has had issues with the SEC before according to our research”.

According to their research??? They took the time to do research!?!?!? Do you see the point here? Bloggers and webmasters CARE about their site; they simply won’t risk being penalized so they can satisfy a crafty link ninja and make a quick buck or two. They know that Google is trying to penalize their activities so they take EXTRA precaution as to not accept any spammy or un-related links whatsoever.

Google wants Sites to provide Unique, Quality Content to their Visitors

How many people actively subscribe to directories? How many people bother to search through directories? Better yet how many people even SEARCH for directories? My point exactly= not many!

Now how many hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of blogs are there online? How many RSS subscribers are there?

The point here is that directories don’t attract visitors; they don’t provide unique content… HECK they barely provide any content at all! On the other hand, a blog with lots of quality content can literally attract hundreds of UNIQUE visitors each and every day if the blog is promoted well via social media.

In conclusion, the underlying fact hidden in this argument is that most directories and text-link ads both require a monetary investment, a human-edited approval system, and a requirement that the link be “niche-related” in order for the link transaction to be beneficial for both parties. But for some reason (unbeknownst to me) I find Google penalizing these link building strategies very differently.

So who made the rules of this link building game anyways? Do we have to follow them? The answer is that they are constantly changing, and YES you should follow them: but don’t just follow them aimlessly, PLAY HARD AND COMPETE!

Paul Teitelman

I'm a SEO Manager here at SEP and am responsible for overseeing the organic ranking of clients for their major keywords. When I'm not in front of computers my main passions are drumming, hockey and hanging out up north at my cottage in Muskoka.

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25 Responses to “The Art of Eluding Google: Is It Even Possible?”

  1. Interesting post. Your start and close are a bit mystifying though! You throw the towel in and ask us to play hard and compete! Well, we are plodding along and while not quite in the big league, we are not badly off.

  2. Well written Paul. Niche blogs seem to offer the most authority in my eyes and for that they must be given the most authority, especially over the useless directories. Bloggers are passionate about the blogs and realise the importance of authority and SEO. Directories, or directories here in South Africa are data capturers that dont "know" that much about the whole SEO & Authority process, its just another link that is added to the 1000's of other links on their sites.

    Who made the rules, directories did, so as not too loose the business after many sites got penalized for selling links.

    But in fairness we still are not 100% sure which is the best way, which forces us to do a combination of everything while ensuring Niche Quality.

    Thanks again, have an exseollent 2008

  3. Yossarian says:

    Link building has definitely caused me the most stress than anything else in the past 6-12 months.

    I understand Googles stance, they are constantly fighting to keep the quality of the SERPs up but it is just so frustrating to see so many sites get away with dubious link building techniques while if I tried to do the same I know Google would just bitch slap me down the SERPs within a week.

  4. Paul says:

    @Comparison Shopping- I was only kidding when I said 'throwin' in the towel= we all know we can't give up!!

    @Marketing Man- you just summed up my frustrations to a tee! exseollent year to you too!

    @Yossarian- you make me laugh… "if I tried to do the same I know Google would just bitch slap me down the SERPs within a week…" Couldn't have said it better myself!

  5. Tianyi says:

    what about submission of articles to article directories, will Google count that as a quality link or spam link?

  6. GadgetsGuy says:

    Thanks for your article, it's full of useful information .. i think link building very difficult nowadays. specially with the fact of nofollow everywhere :D

  7. Thank God for that! I was a bit taken aback. Yes indeed, we can not give up.

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  9. Yossarian says:

    @Tianyi I believe Article Directories are a bit of a grey area on how useful they are. Mass article syndication is supposed to have limited results.

    However creating a great article and submitting it to a handful of good directories (maybe even rewording each submission a bit) can have decent effects.

    I think the main thing is one good article that gets republished by many people because of its quality is much better than 10 crappy articles.

    Though I guess the next problem you may encounter is will Google decide that the link in your signature box is spammy or not and that it should be nofollowed. Who the hell knows when it comes down to their policies on linking.

  10. Paul says:

    @ Tianyi- You just opened up a whole new can of worms…but in general= quality link as long as you don't submit to dozens of different directories.

    @GadgetsGuy/Comparison Shopping- Never give up; never surrender! Keep building those QUALITY links!

  11. Joseph says:

    There is one thing for sure as far as link building is concerned.

    Its frustrating, painful and time consuming. Yet we have no choice.

    Google says so. So we got to do it until another authority figure comes along.

    For now Google calls the shots, they know that, we know that…

    Maybe this social aspect may change the playing grounds

  12. Lily says:

    Don't you think Google wants too many requirements???

  13. Well put indeed! The goalposts keep on moving. Focus on creating quality content, which will bring in the links & you should be OK.

  14. Mike Dammann says:

    Don't ever surrender to a corporation. Don't ever surrender to a human being.
    Surrender to God.
    Surrender to the law.
    That is all that I can say!

  15. Wii Boy says:

    I have almost an obsessive fear about taking a break from link building. It took me 14 months to get some decent rankings, if I sat back and did nothing, how long would it be before I dropped off of Google's radar?

    Considerably quicker I imagine.

  16. Utah SEO says:

    Link building doesn't have to be frustrating if you think outside the box on how you can naturally get links and get relatively close to the anchor text you want/need.

  17. Paul says:

    @Yossarian- great points you made!

    @Joseph/Lily/Jacques/Mike:

    Link building is frustrating yes, but I do agree with UTAH SEO= it can be FUN if you have the right attitude towards it and are doing research to constantly stay ahead of the game!

    @Wii Boy- You'd be surprised actually. Once you rank well for a keyword you won't just "disappear" from the rankings if you stop your link building efforts. Yes you will drop hard (also depends on your keyword competition) but you will drop over time; it's not an overnight type of thing.

  18. Link building is quite a complicated field, but I think if you stick with a few proven methods, such as article submission, you can succeed.

  19. Its fairly difficult to understand as to why Google penalizes some ideas more than others. Probably they want to be unpredictable.

  20. Dev Basu says:

    Hi Paul – The difference in the way Google treats certain directories versus the issue of paid links is one of devaluation of link juice vs. a human review (prompted by automatic detection of boilerplate code and text such as 'sponsored links'). Over the last year, directory submissions have really taken a beating and probably provide the lowest ROI in link building these days, with regard to free directories. Here are some of the reason's they just don't work as well anymore – http://www.searchengineguide.com/david-wallace/do-directory-submissions-still-hold-any.php

    That said, crafty paid links still work well as to trusted directories. If you want a list find one over at VileSilencer – http://info.vilesilencer.com/main.php?rock=seo-friendly-list.php.

    As to your question regarding whether it is possible to elude Google, I would ask my friend Mike from SlightlyShadySEO ;) .

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  22. search tool says:

    there doesn't seem to be any short cuts on the deliberate slow building of links that link back to your site. Some have been successful at buying links and not getting caught, some have not. Its probably a bad idea to try to out smart big brother this way.

  23. Link building is a skill and what i can advice is to break away from the thought about building lots and lots of links within a timeframe. Most of the time, it is this thought that got webmasters into buying paid reviews and links. Writing excellent articles, comments or even have something special can attract quality links(Link Baiting). Don't rush for time, be constant.

  24. A common problem with many of the sites that have been analyzed by us is that most of them have links coming from unrelated sites, mainly due to poor link building in the past. Build links that are relevant to your site content, this is important.
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  25. Qubix says:

    The problem with building links I find, is ensuring that you are linking to sites with relevant content – like Singapore Internet says above, a poor link can work against you.

    I also worry that if I stopped link building, what would happen to my site! It takes so long to get a PR – im sure it'll drop off quicker than it took to get it!