Search Engine Optimisation for Mauritian websites

I actively monitor the SERPs on Google.mu for a lot of keywords and I can tell you that people in Mauritius do not invest in SEO at all. Many websites which occupy the top positions rank purely because of lack of competition. I can confidently say that search engine optimisation in Mauritius is non-existant except for a few people who are in the website creation business (I can count them on my hand btw). It is to be noted that an awful lot of businesses do not have a website in this day and age and they couldn’t care any less. You will sometimes be amazed by those who have an online presence because their websites are just not worth the effort. Take for example a popular furniture and electrical giant like Courts which have a single page website with an image flyer that links to their Facebook page. Customers want to see what products you have and what the prices are, not being forced to visit your fan page to see e-catalogues of your products. What, are you still in the 1990s era?

courts

There’s this driving school which has a website (maybe the only one in this business actually) and although it has some useful webpages with great information, the title of all its webpages is just the name of the driving school itself. Anyone in the search engine optimisation business can tell you the title tag is the single most important bit you need to optimise. However this site ranks for a lot of associated keywords because Google is inferring its quality from the url of the webpage and the content it has as a substitution for not having enough relevant websites to display. What I’m trying to say is due to the lack of info on this subject in the Mauritian context, the website is ranking despite being unoptimised – same as the one eye man is king in the valley of the blind.

We also have some individuals who think they know a lot of SEO and use black hat techniques to accomplish their goals. For example, there was this web design firm which managed to get a number 1 listing for a 2 keyword phrase I’m currently tracking but it was short lived because all the external backlinks came from blog comments on sites where there’s no moderation, which has led to the domains being listed as spam. Now you wouldn’t want to associate yourself with bad domains because you’d be considered a spammer too and that will definitely hurt your rankings. Anyway if you’re after rankings that last (or at least factors which have a strong impact on your rankings), you need to go white hat and invest more into branding.

Doing business online is still very new in Mauritius and now is the time to crush your competitors and set yourself apart and gain that trust which will benefit you so much more in the future. And if you’re planning to do SEO, then do it right through ethical ways or don’t do it at all.

Why my rankings dropped because of the Google Panda update

This website is a personal blogging space for me where I write mostly on SEO & Programming. I also tend to write about things which I’d like to remember, whether personal things or something that I think would be useful (reference) in the future. What I’m trying to say is that I shouldn’t have to worry whether people come on my site to read the stuff I blog about or whether Google sends me traffic because it thinks I have good content that addresses the queries of other users. However all that changed when they released the Google Panda algorithm. Not exactly since the beginning which was April 2011 but sometime in March 2012.

I was getting a steady flow of visitors to my site because the number of posts on the site was increasing and I’ve been doing this for at least the last 5 years. I’m in no way a regular blogger but I tend to write especially when I struggle to find a solution to programming problems so that I can reference it later and to help other people out there. It’s a good feeling when you see people coming onto your site and it makes you feel appreciated (even better when they leave nice comments!).

As I said before, I lost rankings on my site was a few keywords (some blog posts have stopped ranking where they were) because of the penalty imposed by the Panda Update. I know it’s that particular algoritmic update, not Penguin, because I’ve cross referenced the dates. Traffic to my website is now one-fifth of what it used to be. This affects just my pride to be honest because I do not make any money from this website (I’ve kept it ads-free since its birth). It just makes you feel sad that your once prized content has now lost all its merit.

I’ve never bought any links for this site (why would I anyway, it’s not like boosting my SERPs will make me more rich) and the backlinks to it are purely editorial. Some people have found my website (blog posts) helpful and decided to cite me on their site (or forum). I write from my personal experience so it cannot be duplicate/rehashed content. It’s all unique and original!

So why was I penalised?

After reviewing my blog, I found lots of thin content on the site. Sometimes I would write a small paragraph in a blog post because that’s what was needed. I am not writing as a researcher or to provide a complete and accurate information for someone else. I am writing for myself, for my own use primarily, and even a short note is enough to describe something fully for my needs.

However this is not how Panda works. It wants the best possible information regarding a certain topic. Obviously a couple of lines is not enough for them and you cannot judge quality from those. From what I gather, you need to exceed a threshold of low quality pages compared to quality ones before you get trapped in the Panda penalty.

There are 2 reasons why I was not penalised as soon as Panda was out. The first theory is that I did not have as many thin pages then to reach the limit of sinking in on the balance. As more shorter blog posts were introduced, the overall quality of my blog decreased and thus I got pandalised. The second reason is the crawling rate of my site. As I said before, I do not blog often and therefore it could be that Panda caught me out much much later because Google does not crawl my blog often.

My personal opinion about it all

On one hand, the whole concept of Panda makes sense because it takes out the weed from the garden. You will get less sites with inadequate results when you search on Google and that’s a good thing. On the other hand, it makes me frustrated that I have to change the way I blog if I want to be on the good side of Google.

Of course, I don’t need to please Google; it’s my website and I can do whatever I want with it. Nevertheless, blogging solely for your personal satisfaction is boring because you don’t get the interaction with other people. You do not want to become a lonely person on the web which has billions of users. Therefore I’ve decided to do something about it.

Fortunately, there was an easy option for me. I could mark all thin posts as “noindex” so that Google can ignore them. I did not want to unpublish the posts but wanted a way to strike a nice balance and that suits me. All I had to do was go through all the posts on the site and mark the ones with very low word count as noindex.

I’m quite certain that the changes will bring about a positive change next time Panda runs (well actually, after Google has recrawled all of my pages and Panda is updated). I just need to sit back and wait now…zZzZzZzzz

UPDATE : So Panda updated itself at least 3 times after I wrote this blog post but there has been no positive effect on my site. The Panda algo is a much bigger beast than I originally thought and you need to significantly improve the content of your webpages to get out of the penalty which is not something I have time for (especially for this personal website).

Google changing page titles in SERPs

While searching where one website was ranked for in Google for a search term, I noticed something really strange in the SERPs. Google has changed the title of the webpage by appending the site’s name to the end of the title. To give you an idea of what’s happening, consider the following:

Webpage title : Basic SEO Skills
Website name : My Website

You would think that “Basic seo skills” would be listed as the title in google search result pages but no, the title was displayed as “Basic SEO Skills – My Website”, so the suffix “My website” was appended to the real title. I checked the said webpage and the website name was not in the title which means Google was deliberately adding this to the title. Funny thing is that for a different search term (variation of the main keywords), the right title is shown.

So I did a little research and it turns out that Google reserves the right to alter your page title tag to show a more relevant result to the searcher (this depends on what search terms are being used). I knew they showed a more relevant snippet (text from your webpage where the search terms are found) instead of the description tag but this title thing was new to me.

Where does Google pull the additional words to append to your title tag?
Well it turns out that the suffix can come from anchor text pointing to your page, your website name or from text in your content.

When does Google alter your page title?
Seems like whenever your webpage has been deemed a good result to display for a particular search term but your title does not contain an essential keyword to make the search result more appealing, Google will spice up your title by appending the search term from, say, the inbound link’s anchor text.

If your page title is short or not descriptive as well (eg Untitled or no title at all), Google will most likely change it to better reflect your content.

Google PR Update 27 July 2011

The long wait for a major Google PR update is now over as the PageRank has been refreshed today (27th July 2011). I’ve checked my sites (30+ I’ve got at the moment) and can confirm that it was not a minor update but a full scale one. Most of my sites have been an increase in PR but some of them dropped as well.

Backlinks is what PR is all about and if you have been doing your link building well, then you would be happy today to see your PR going up the scale. If you haven’t though, there’s still time although you’ll have to wait a couple of months before seeing any result if you start your link building campaign today.

What I’d like to share today is that an expired domain which I purchased a few months back, dropped to PR N/A during 2 last updates but for this PR update that just happen, it went to PR4. Well it has many nice juicy links pointing towards it and it was about time anyway. On another expired domain (which is PR3) where I linked a new site, the latter jumped from PR0 to PR3. However there’s no real movement in terms of SERPs, so I believe expired domains do not count towards ranking but they will give you PR love, so all is not lost.

And another thing which I’d like to point out (maybe reminding myself as well) is that if you stop building links (as in acquiring new links to your site, then sooner or later, you will lose your PR and possibly your traffic. This happened on one site which has been PR3 for a couple of years now but because of neglect it has fallen to PR2 and the traffic is diminishing steadily on top of that. So it looks like I’ll be busy with more promotion and link building for this one now…

Using twiends.com to get more twitter followers and facebook likes

twiendsFacebook and twitter are 2 social networking sites which can increase the traffic to your website dramatically. However you need to have facebook fans and twitter followers first to benefit from them. So I started using twiends.com in an attempt to increase the number of twitter followers on my account as well as likes on my facebook fan page.

Twiends use the terminology “seeds” which is basically equivalent to points or money. The more you have, the better as it will enable you to get more followers. When someone follows you on twitter, your number of seeds decrease (mininum 2 seeds for each follower but you can increase that to 5 if you want to attract more people). When you join twiends, you get 15 seeds to start off with but if you complete your profile, you’ll get an additional 40 seeds.

So I had 55 seeds in my account and I decided to add my twitter page now. As soon as twitter was linked, I saw my seeds decreasing. In the space of a couple of minutes, I was down to 25 seeds. I checked my twitter profile and I saw I was getting new followers. However that was not what I wanted – I wanted twitter followers from a specific country so that it’s more targetted when I tweet. I searched quickly on twiends help page but had no luck. Google did not bring me any good results as well and within like 10 mins, I was at 0 seeds. This means that no one else would follow me as from now. I then performed another search to see how I could change my settings to get targetted followers and manage to find it. You have to click on Settings, then select Twitter from the left hand menu and edit your preferences. I specified the country I wanted to get followers from, gave 3 seeds for each follower, chose a Drop Rate of average and left the Membership Length at the recommended settings.

The Drop Rate is basically when someone follows you (you lose seeds because that person gets the seeds for it) and then stops following you after a short period of time. I’ve had a couple of people do that on my account. Out of 23, 7 stopped following me within an hour. So it’s a waste of seeds. The membership length should however be left at the recommended settings as new users are the ones who are more likely to follow you.

Since I had 0 seeds on my account, I couldn’t get more followers. I checked other free ways to get seeds and found out that if you join their newsletter, you will get 50 seeds. Referring other people to the site will get you 25 seeds if that person becomes a member that is. You can also buy seeds; for $30 you can get 1250 seeds.

With 50 seeds in my account and followers targetted to a specific country, I did not experience any bad/unwanted follower. Actually I did not get any followers at all because the country I’m targetting does not have many users at the moment. Anyway, let’s see what the future holds for twiends.

Buying expired domain names and making money from them

Going into the expired domain names business can be very rewarding if you know what you’re doing. Most people purchase expired domains as a quick way to make money from them while a few just want to get hold of a particular domain. Here we’ll be talking about how to get the most of expired domains.

How long after a domain expires do you have to wait until you can purchase it?

There are hundreds and hundreds of domains which get expired everyday because they are not renewed by their owners. However I’ll be concentrating my efforts on the .uk domains here. After a domain expires, there’s a 30 day grace period where the owner can still renew the domain. If the domain is not renewed, it goes into a 60 day suspension period where the name servers do not resolve. After that, there’s an additional 2-9 days before the domain becomes available again. So basically, you’re looking at 92-99 days before you can grab an expired .uk domain name.

Why would you choose an expired domain name over another?

There are two essential things to take into consideration when buying a domain that has expired. First is the Google PageRank (PR) and second is the traffic that it receives. There are ways for you to get a glimpse of the traffic for a particular domain like hitwise.co.uk but unless you keep all of the website’s content, the traffic will soon vanish. The problem with reconstructing the same content is that you will end up infringing intellectual property rights. That being said, traffic can also come in terms of referrals from other websites. For example, if there’s a link to that expired domain on a popular website, then you can get a lot of traffic from that.

Most people find it easier to work with PageRank though. The higher the PR of the expired domain, the better it will be for you because we will be able to sell links on that domain at a much higher price and that’s what a lot of link sellers do, ie, grab expired domains, and sell links on them. Link buyers will look at the PR and think there’re getting a really good deal when it’s not really.

If you can see the PR of the expired domain just before it expired, you can make your own decision on whether to get it or not. However PR is just a reflection of the quantity and quality of backlinks. So if the important backlinks are removed, the PR of the website will decrease as well. The best way to know if an expired domain is really worth buying is going to Yahoo Site Explorer and looking at the backlinks. Go to the webpages where the link is placed and check the corresponding PR of the webpage, if it has a high PR, then it’s good. Also check how far down the bottom the backlink is placed. The higher up the webpage, the better the backlink and the fewer the number of outgoing links, the greater link juice you will get.

Backlinks from .ac.uk or .org.uk or gov.uk websites are likely to have a higher PR than others. However sometimes sites with other extensions have high PR as well and that’s why you will need to check them all to make sure you’re not missing out. Somestimes you’ll get a decent backlink from bbc.co.uk and other newspaper as well.

How to maintain the PR of an expired domain?

Once you’ve got a expired domain with a decent number of backlinks, you can pretty much guess what PR it will get during the next PageRank update. This will depend on the quantity and quality of the backlinks. However there are some steps that you will need to take to ensure that the PR is not reset for that domain. Some people just buy the expired domain and throw in content which is completely different to what was on that domain before and then wonder why the PR has been reset to zero and become N/A (not applicable). If you want to preserve the PR, you will need to have a similar theme to what was there before. Go to archive.org and look at the website when it was live. Make sure you write content similar to what was there before and try to keep the title tag of the homepage as closely as it was before. It is important that you do not just copy the same exact text from archive.org as this would be infringing copyrights. And do not attempt to ressurect the website by reconstructing the website from archive.org’s copy.

How to get revenue from your expired domain?

You can get a decent income from buying an expired domain by selling blogroll (sitewide links), blog posts with links to sponsor sites or placing banners on it. You can also put relavant ads by using Adsense, in-text advertising like Kontera/Infolinks or Adsense for Domain. You will find a lot of interest on forums.digitalpoint.com Link Sales section and most people will prefer to pay through Paypal.

Expired domains and SEO

Many seo professionals will say that it is useless to buy expired domains but that’s not entirely true. For a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) point of view, the domain will lose its authority once it is dropped. That is why it is better to transfer ownership before a domain get dropped if you still want it to rank for its search terms afterwards. In the case of expired domains, what I’ve seen is that you will still get traffic from referring sites where your backlinks are placed and some organic search as well if you keep the same theme. You will need to check the raw log file access and see which deep pages are being requested from referring sites and try to ressurect these ones to preserve the pagerank and possibly get organic search traffic from it as well.

It is more difficult to make an expired domain rank for its search terms as it was before but you could try link building for the site and keeping the same content. And if you just want to make quick cash from it, then all you need is a high PR and some naive link buyers who do not take the time to research the domain onto which they’re buying links to see if it has been dropped before.

Adsense earnings down – Find out why!

Webmasters who have chosen to work with Adsense to generate income from their websites need to understand how volatile the whole Adsense system is. You cannot expect to earn a fixed amount of money with it and that’s in some way a curse and a blessing as well. This means you have the opportunity to get even more cash if you are able to grow your website’s traffic and conversion. However many times you will find that even though you are getting more traffic than before, you are either not getting any more money from the extra traffic or your adsense revenue is decreasing.

The hard work is not paying off and you’re getting frustrated and disappointed as well. This is why it is imperative to understand what may cause fluctuations in adsense income. Below is a list of the reasons why your adsense earnings might have dropped:

You have lost traffic

This means that your rankings as not as good as they were before in the SERPs. You will need to find which keywords have dropped from the search engine results pages and do more SEO work on them. If you have changed the content of your webpages (either by adding/removing text or changing theme/layout of your website), then you may lose your rankings as well. Many times changing the title tag could lead to drop in rankings.

You are being smart priced

Smart pricing is Google’s way to protect advertisers. If the clicks leading to an advertiser’s site are not converting for the latter, then you may be smart priced to compensate for the advertiser’s loss. For example, if mortgage ads are appearing on your site and the visitors clicking to the advertiser’s site are not filling out their mortgage quote form, instead of getting the usual $3 for a click, you may only get $0.50 for the same click. The advertiser defines the conversion that he wants to be actionable on his site and it can be anything from having a sale to signing up to his newsletter.

One way to combat smart pricing is to block the advertiser for at least a week. This works because smart pricing is reset or recalculated/re-applied on a weekly basis. If you do not tackle smart pricing, you may earn considerably less with adsense because one poorly converting ad can lead to your whole adsense account being smartpriced.

US dollars are getting weaker against your local currency

Many people do not realise that adwords accounts are managed in US dollars. So if you’re in the UK, you’re still going to pay in US dollars for the keywords you choose in your adwords campaign. As a publisher, unless you’re in the US, you are going to see your adsense earnings in your local currency, that is, the conversion from US dollars to whatever currency is local to you. This is done on the fly from exchange rates on the day you’re looking at your adsense report.

So if an advertiser was bidding $1.5 for a keyword and the conversion from US dollars to say British Pound was 1:1 (for the sake of simplicity), you will get £1.5 for that click. Now if the exchange rate changes and the British Pound gets stronger (US dollar weakens) and the new exchange rate becomes 1:1.5 which means you get $1.5 for each British pound, you will then receive only £1 for the same click instead of £1.5. Therefore as long as the US dollar remains strong against your local currency, you are fine but the time that it gets weak, you will see a drop in your earnings provided everything else stays the same.

You have seasonal content (Xmas, Easter, Mother’s day etc)

If your website has content which depends on the season, you will see a boost in traffic when that period approaches but when it ends, you will lose the visitors as well as the money. For instance, if you operate a site which deals with Chrismas, weeks leading up to Xmas will be really good for you in terms of keywords searches for Xmas but when that festival ends, you will barely see any traffic stemming from those keywords. Think about it – would you search for Chrismas presents in March? No!

Your website has content to do with trends

If you’re writing news articles, then chances are that when the news becomes outdated, you will lose the traffic. When something is hot or trendy, there are many searches for that particular keyword of interest. If you have content which talks about such things, then you would get a lot of attention from visitors which will nicely convert for you but as soon as the trend is over, you can forget about it all.

Adwords advertisers are stopping their campaigns or reducing their maximum CPC

Depending on what works best for advertisers, they may introduce new campaigns at different times of the year or pulling old ones out. If advertisers find that some months work better for them, they will stick to these months rather than having a campaign running throughout the year. For example, an advertiser will advertise only during March/April for Easter promotions and when that period is over, so will the revenue coming from these promotions. So if you don’t have the advertiser for the keywords for your content, you won’t make a single penny.

The second reason relating to advertisers is quite interesting. Since Adwords works on a bidding system, if there are more advertisers for the same keywords, you will get a higher CPC and if there are only a small number of competitors, then obviously, you will be paid peanuts. However sometimes advertisers may lower the Cost Per Click depending on the time of the day or country of origin for the click. This again has do to with what works best for the advertiser. A UK advertiser may reduce the CPC during night times because he knows there are not going to be any conversions at this time or he may decrease or reject clicks coming from outside the UK because ke knows foreigners will not buy anything from him.

Better conversion rate for the advertiser doesn’t mean more money for the publisher

Adsense tries to serve the ads which would give you the maximum revenue. This does not mean that the adsense ads which appear on your website are the highest paying ads for the keywords matching your content. Contrary to common belief, ads go through the bidding system to elect the highest bidder but at the same time are filtered down to the ones which have a better Click Through Rate (CTR). So you might be serving an ad which gives you 25% CTR but costs $2 a click rather than an ads which has a 10% CTR and costs $5 per click. A high CTR is good because it means the ad is contextually relevant to your content and will give you more money but if you get 100 impressions with a 25% CTR and making $1 per click, you’ll get $25 in adsense revenue compared to $50 for an ad which has a 10% CTR and costing $5 per click for the same number of impressions. So watch out for those supposedly higher CTR ads with lower value or placement targeted ads as they could be eating your income.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why your adsense earnings can drop and the reasons are the more common ones. I haven’t included targeting high paying keywords because I’m focusing here on why your revenue are decreasing rather than how you can make more with Google Adsense. If you’re in a niche with a relatively low CPC, it might be worth trying something else than adsense.

Reasons why MySQL table crashed and how to repair it

A few days ago, I was trying to update a record in my database and encountered an error message in the form of “Incorrect key file for table xxx.MYI”. Since the update was not really that important, I decided to ignore that warning but this was a very big mistake that I would regret later. I went out for the day and when I came back at night, I found that my traffic has plummetted and when I investigated, I found that the table that was having problems earlier has crashed. So I decided to find reasons why MySql tables would crash and they are as follows:

  • Unstable operating system
  • Problems with the hardware
  • Power failure
  • Corrupted data or index files
  • MySql server host was killed during an update
  • External program manipulating the data or index files at the same time as MySqlId without locking the table properly

There may be other causes for MySql to crash but the reasons above are more common.

How to repair a crashed MySql table?

Fortunately MySql tables which have been crashed can be repaired quite easily. All you have to do is use PhpMyAdmin or another MySql client program and run the repair command on that table (REPAIR TABLE employee). This will bring back the table in a consistent state. You can also use CHECK TABLE employee to see if there are any problems with the tables in your database. There are additional options that you can use when repairing/checking your tables but using the syntax without them should work just fine.

How detrimental can it be to have crashed MySql tables?

The MySql table in my database crashed around 15:00 and it was not until 22:00 that I noticed the problem. That’s the problem when you’re on shared hosting – you don’t get any notifications of problems and when you email support, it takes time for them to get the problem fixed. My website is database driven which means that if the database is down, the whole website is brought down. Running the repair command took less than a minute though and everything was back up after the table was repaired.

However I lost half of my daily traffic within that time and lost half of my revenue as well. Of course, having a website that’s not working is not good for your visitors and losing money is not something that you want but those are not the biggest problems. For the duration of the downtime, search engine spiders (GoogleBot) may be crawling your website and when they encounter problems with the site, they can quickly remove your webpages out of their index and that will cost you even more than 1 day of downtime. Your rankings might suffer as well as a result of the downtime.

Using Facebook to get more traffic to your website

Everyone these days seem to have a facebook account. Why shouldn’t they? Facebook has become a central point of communication in our daily life and helps us stay in touch with friends and family and see what they are doing without much effort. Holiday pictures, video albums and latest gossip are at out fingertips and as more people join the network, it becomes even more important for us webmasters to leverage the power of Facebook.

Use Facebook Connect to give visitors an alternative to registering on your website

Let’s face it – nobody likes having to register on websites to access a service, whether it’s for commenting on an article or asking a question on a forum. With so many websites out there, it becomes very difficult to keep track of the different username/password for each site and this is a major put off for a lot of visitors. By allowing the visitors of your site to login using Facebook, you’ll get more people to post on your site or better still engage more. You will get access to the visitor name, email address, friends and a lot more. All the essential details that you want to capture in your registration page will be made available to you with Facebook Connect. Of course this should be used to complement your own registration page because not everyone is on Facebook and you cannot just allow anyone to engage with your site without registration because that’s going to get the attention of spammers but using Facebook Connect will make users engage more with your site.

Let other people know about your content with Facebook Share button

Facebook Share button is a bit different from Facebook Like button and is meant to be used to allow sharing your content even easier. If you display a Facebook Share button on your site and a user clicks it, your content will be made available to all the friends of this user. This is viral marketing in its simplest. The average Facebook user has around 120 friends and that content will be read by that many people if not more. A count of the number of times the content has been shared is shown next to the button as well and this shows how popular was content is.

Facebook Like button is a great way to get more people to visit your website

When people click on the Facebook Like button on your website, it tells you how many people actually like your content and since this is syndicated to the user’s activity in Facebook, you will get other people to your site who want to check what it is all about.  Some people like using the Like and Share button alongside and it’s not that difficult to set up even for beginners.

Facebook API

If you have a website, you’ll need to get a Facebook API key to get the most of what Facebook has to offer you. You can use the Standard JavaScript SDK to enable Facebook features on your site but you’ll need access to that API key. Of course, if you’re a more experienced programmer, you can always code your own things and get more advanced features by querying Facebook.

What, PR6 .gov.uk sites selling links?

I was contacted by someone on a popular webmaster forum to buy a link on a .gov.uk site which has a valid PR6. The government site belongs to a council and because government sites tend to link to each other a lot, it has a lot of good quality inbound links. Getting links on such a site can really boost your ranking especially if you use a good targetted anchor text. However they are very hard to come by. Unless you’re a non-profit organisation or offering something unique which would be beneficial for the .gov.uk site and at the same time be relevant, you’re not going to get a link from them.

Part of me wanted to buy the link because I know that it will increase the PR of my site and boost my rankings as well. The price was $150 for 3 months, $250 for 6 months and $400 for 12 months. The link would be placed on the homepage and you get to choose your anchor text. I was curious and wanted to see if other people have purchased links on that PR6 .gov.uk site. All paid links were placed like halfway down the homepage as follows:

links

As you can see from the above example, all these links look like spam even if it comes from a reputable website such as this .gov.uk one. Placing your website’s link there could do you more harm than good. It is not worth paying $400 a year to get such a link. If you’re already receiving traffic from Google, why would you want to risk your organic traffic and be penalised?

I didn’t include the URL for this .gov.uk site deliberately but the only reason you can buy links on there is because they’ve got an immoral person working for them. Councils are not stupid to publicly do this sort of thing but a staff who has got access to the website (probably an IT guy who maintains the website content) decided to do a little business on the side. I’m pretty sure the council is not aware of this and the moment they find out, they will fire him.

The conclusion is that buying links can jeopardise your website a lot. You’re better off using whitehat techniques and moving up the SERPs slowly but surely than regretting the big mistake of thinking you’re purchasing once in a lifetime link deal to boost your rankings.