Last time out, you found yourself trapped in a “Saw IV”-style maze way back on Page 4 of the search engine results page (SERP), with no way out. Link building has helped you get closer to an exit. Your goal is to reach Page 1 on the search engine of your choice.
Your head is pounding as you try to force open your eyes. The smells surrounding you are stale, humid, and putrid. The room you find yourself in appears to be a rundown laboratory filled with old, rusty medical equipment. Scalpels are on the floor among other foreign medical implements you’ve never seen before. They have an ominous, deadly look to them. Before you sits an old gurney that no longer appears to be sturdy enough to hold a human form.
On the gurney table, you see a note. You struggle to stand. Your legs are wobbly. They could give out any time. You slowly move to the gurney to read the note, hoping for a clue to help you to understand what the hell is happening.
The dim, gray light from the overhead bulb makes the note hard to read. Slowly you put the words together. “If you want to make it out alive, you must pick the right box.”
“What box?” you wonder. You turn around to find four small wooden shipping crates. Each is labeled. The labels read:
- Free Directories
- Reciprocal Links
- Buying Links
- Link Bait
You understand those labels! You recently read a column on your favorite search engine resource written by an SEO mastermind. Your mind fuzzy, you try to remember the title. Was it something like: Solving the Link Building Puzzle: Do or Die? You quickly try to recall what you learned about those four topics.
Did the writer put you in this room? Did he write the note? He couldn’t have. You’ve seen his videos. There’s no way he could be capable of something this dastardly.
“If you want to make it out alive, you must pick the right box.”
“Which box?” You begin to panic. Each seems to have value. Each one should help with search engine optimization. Suddenly, you notice a digital timer sitting to the left side of the boxes. It’s counting backwards. It reads “10 minutes, 34 seconds.” A label on the timer reads, “Don’t let time be your demise.”
While cryptic, you understand this is all the time you’ve got. You must hurry!
Calm down. Think analytically. You systematically analyze each labeled box.
Free Directories. They’re free. There are tons of them. Maybe this is the answer. But wait. Why are they free? Have I ever used one of these directories myself? No. I just visit them to submit my sites. Maybe most of them are just shadowy Internet back alleys with no real value.
Reciprocal Links. You’ve never read that these can hurt you. This is something you’ve done for years. Maybe this is the box you should pick. You think for a second. You’ve seen those kinds of pages on peoples’ sites. A huge repository of meaningless links. They don’t look like the site owner thought for half a second on what links went into this page. Maybe they can’t hurt you. But how much could they help?
6 minutes, 13 seconds.
Buying Links. This is promising. How could the search engines know you bought links…particularly if you cover your tracks. You don’t use brokers. You visit each site directly and try to make deals. You get great one-way links from super sites for a very affordable rate. You have a private Rolodex of sites that will sell links any time of the day or night. This is easy. This must be it! You start to go towards the lid. Before you open it you think, “Wait! Perhaps this is a trick. Would this menacing force want me to choose the easy route? Is it possible they could actually find out that these are purchased links? If they could find out, would they still give me credit for the links? You quickly back away. This might not be the box for you.
3 minutes, 59 seconds. You have to hurry!
Link Bait. This sounds dirty. There’s no way this could be the box. You think back to what Sage said about link bait. Link bait is any kind of content you create that entices people to link to you. People link to you because you have good “link bait.” You aren’t artificially manipulating people to link to you. They link to you because you have good content.
2 minutes, 45 seconds. What should you do?
You don’t feel like the best choice is “Free Directories” or “Reciprocal Links.” On the other hand, “Buying Links” or “Link Bait” could be either of those. You still feel strongly about your ability to buy links. There’s no way the engines could know you’re buying links. Or is there? If the search engines found out, would they be happy? You suspect not.
1 minute, 39 seconds. Oh God!
But link bait. That’s hard. How can you think of something creative enough to link to? What if you create something…something like a witty article spoofing a movie that opens in theaters this week, and no one links to it? What then? What if you go out on a limb and take a risk and people think less of you? What if you take a risk, put yourself out there, actually hurt your business?
Maybe it’s “Free Directories” or “Reciprocal Links.”.
Only 45 seconds left. You need to choose now! Make a decision.
Your head is pounding. Your hands are shaking so hard you aren’t sure you can even open one of the lids.
You lunge towards the boxes.
Which did you choose?