Spammy Link Building

Spammy Link Building

Link building is a key SEO strategy. It is the act of spreading hyper-links which contain keywords or website URLs through as many niche markets[1] as possible and pointing the URLs back to the original site. Abuse of this link building strategy is called "link farming"[2] and is created through aggressive reciprocal linking.[3] Link building has the capacity to greatly impact a SERP ranking. It used to be an effective strategy for improving search engine ranking in the past but it is no longer working since Google changed its algorithm and gives more awards for the quality of links rather than the quantity.[4]

In Seikaly & Stewart v Rainmaker Institute,[5] Seikaly & Stewart, a law firm in Michigan, brought a proceeding against Rainmaker Institute which is a SEO company specialising in online marketing using "spammy" techniques that did not comply with the Google Optimisation Guidelines. The plaintiff argued that the defendant knowingly performed the "spammy link farms" techniques in order to increase the website ranking of the plaintiff's law firm website.[6] They sought to recover $49,000 for their SEO service and also damages. Even though the plaintiff failed, this case is particularly important for not only small business owners but also legal practitioners in Australia. This is because there were no law suits regarding spammy link building techniques in Australia until Oneflafre Pty Ltd v Chenih [2016]. It opened the gate for small business owners and warned against the use of BHSEO.

Australia's most recent SEO case is Oneflare Pty Ltd v Chernih.[7]  In this case, the plaintiff, Oneflare, ran an internet business which provided a matching service between services providers and potential customers. The plaintiff solely depended on search engines, primarily Google to obtain business. The plaintiff hired the first defendant, Mr. Chernih, a SEO expert, to run SEO to improve the plaintiff's website's "page ranking" so that their website would appears on the first page of Google. Later, the plaintiff also sued the defendant's company, Linkbuild. The plaintiff argued that the SEO techniques implemented by Mr. Chernih were contrary to Google's guidelines, and as a result the website was penalised and damages incurred. Despite the loss, Oneflare’s claim against the defendants failed as the plaintiff's counsel could not persuade the judge that it caused significant damages to the plaintiff’s business.

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[1] In the Cambridge dictionary, the word “niche market” is defined as a small area of trade within the economy, often involving specialized products.

[2] Link farming techniques breach the Google Optimisation Guidelines and have a negative impact on the online market. They can also lead to de-indexing, which may result in the owner of a website receiving a penalty from Google.

[3] Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer and Jessie Stricchiola, The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization ("O'Reilly Media, Inc.", 2015) 316.

[4] However, many people still believe that the quantity of links is an important part of SEO therefore, they still use software to leave 'spam links'.

[5] Seikaly & Stewart, P.C. v. Fairley, 2014 WL 1911881 (D. Ariz. May 13, 2014).

[6] Approximately, 6720 backlinks appeared and created for oaklandbusinesslawyers.com. However, all the links with the exception of approximately 188 links, were worthless links built with link farming techniques, and many backlinks were not forwarding to the plaintiff’s web pages at all. 

[7] Oneflare Pty Ltd v Chernih [2016] NSWSC 1271.

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