You know the saying about links, that it’s about quality, not quantity? I believe that. But sometimes, quality be damned, you just need to go out and get a bunch of new links!
A quick client history
I’m not a fan of garbage SEO which includes link building and everything else, but a few months back we were needing a little extra push for a client site. The site had sunk from #3 to #6 for two of its core terms and had been there for over a year. With the busy season approaching the client asked us to do everything we can to push them back up to the top three.
Now granted, the client’s business had been doing well with year over year growth in sales and conversion rates. We’ve been successful at getting hundreds, if not thousands, of keywords into top spots for a wide range of products. But still, to the client, these two keywords represented the success of our efforts. For whatever reason, they couldn’t see anything else other than the traffic they were missing by “not being in the top three.”
Looking for solutions
With all our educational efforts about rankings not being all they crack up to be falling on deaf ears, I knew we had to do something. The pages that were optimized for the two terms were solid, no doubt about that. We’ve fixed many architectural issues over the years and knew that the site was pretty solid there as well. After looking at just about everything else, we were left with one conclusion: we needed links.
They had fallen behind in raw link numbers compared to some of their competitors. I knew they had some quality links but those were not doing enough to pull them up. I mean, they were only on the first page, and they wanted top 3!
We were desperate. So we recruited a firm to help us out.
I’m always leery of link firms; you never quite know what you’re gonna get. We did our research and found one that look respectable, not too expensive and appeared to do quality work. So we threw down some cash and let them at it.
Since this was essentially a trial run we requested no more than 30 links. Not exactly a representation of “quantity”, which isn’t what we were going for any way. We wanted a handful of good links that would allow us to analyze the results and see if we wanted more.
Quality? Who needs quality?
Once the link run ended we spent some time analyzing what we got for our money. We were not impressed. Most of the links were on sites that we determined to be of very low quality. This trial was a failure.
As we kept researching for other firms to help us out, we noticed something peculiar and completely unexpected. Our client’s rankings started to climb. In a matter of days they were in the number 1 and 2 position for one keyword and number 2 and 3 position for the other. This was a far cry better than the single number six and seven ranking they had before. A few days later they held the first and second spot for both keywords!
We were stunned. How could this be? The links were not that great, and we only got a little over two dozen. Is this really happening? Surely this can’t be for real.
I started watching the keywords closely. Almost daily I was making sure they they stayed put in their new spots. After a few weeks I started to feel better. Almost confident that our little experiment actually worked, despite everything else.
Prepare for blowback
For several weeks the rankings held and then all of a sudden, one of the keywords dropped down to the number eight spot. Uh oh. Here we go!
But I didn’t react. I didn’t go out and purchase more links or better links or do anything else. I just waited. The other keyword held the #1 spot, but a lot (and I mean a lot!) of other rankings dropped as well. But still, I didn’t want to rush and do anything drastic.
Again, I’m checking rankings almost daily. Watching and waiting. Hoping that this is just a glitch. A fluke. A hiccup. And then suddenly, all was restored. Both keywords were back in the first and second position and the other phrases were back in their places as well.
Can quantity produce quality?
While that was going on, something else happened that I didn’t know about until later. Somewhere along the way the client managed to secure a very high-profile, quality link. By being in that #1 spot the client was contacted by one of the top news organizations in the country. They wanted to test out one of their products and asked the client if they would send it to them. They did.
The product was then reviewed on a national morning news program. That was then followed by a write up on their news website. The online article provided a link to the client suggesting readers go there to get more information!
Was that new link responsible for the return in rankings? Maybe. But regardless, here is a case when a bunch of garbage links helped the client shoot to the top of the rankings. Those top positions led to at least one very high quality link and very likely many many other natural links. Those links solidified that client into the top position for their keywords.
So I come to realize that it’s not always about quality links. Sometimes getting a bunch of low quality links can have an affect that allows you to get more of the high quality links you’re after. Our client’s backlinks are still significantly lower than the competitors, but they are outranking them all over the place. Overall, quality is still trumping quantity, but it’s nice to know that sometimes a quantity of low quality links can be all that’s needed to push you over the edge. Just make sure you know which edge it’ll push you over.