What are Link Farms and How to Avoid Them

Simply put, a link farm is any group of websites that all link to other sites in the group for the purpose of increasing SEO rankings.

Link farms used to be very popular in the early days of Google and provided automated registration, categorization, and link page updates to member web sites.

The importance of Backlinks in SEO

In theory, the more sites that link to yours, the higher your ranking in the search engine results will be because the more links indicate a higher level of popularity among users of the Internet.

Search engines used to be very vulnerable to link farming because they primarily operated on the reasoning that a page has greater authority if many other sites link to it.

Now a link from a site with trusted content or similar content to the page to which it is linking is worth more than random links from many sites.

So, what is a Link Farm?

Back in the day, building your own network of sites designed to link to each other and build link popularity was an easy way to help boost your rankings.

Rather than spend time making a useful site, and then making a bunch of purposeless sites to all link to their own site, they dispensed with the useful and began to create nothing but useless sites for the sole purpose of hosting links to other sites as a paid service, of course.

The process of building links should not be confused with being listed on link farms, as the latter requires reciprocal return links, which often renders the overall backlink advantage useless.

The only purpose of a link farm is to manipulate search engines.

The use of link farms is targeted by Google and considered spam. This is because link farming is unethical behaviour.

Search engines can detect link farms easily and they shouldn't be seen as a legitimate long-term search optimisation strategy.

How do I identify a link farm?

There are a number of ways to identify if a site is a link farm:

  • If the link is the key feature of the listing its a link farm.
  • Customers land on a page which is not relevant to their query, resulting in a high bounce rate and most importantly, a low conversion rate.
  • Link farms can be created by hand, but many are built using automated programs.

What to do if you have a link from a Link Farm

Links from high quality sites counted for more but just about any link counted for something, hence why people used link farms to get cheap links from.

If you already have link farm links, they should be identified and removed.

This requires first a detailed backlink analysis and then all malicious links have to be manually removed.

If in any doubt, speak to an SEO expert on the matter.

SEO Consultant

This article was written by Gaz Hall, a UK based SEO Consultant on 11th September 2007.

Gaz has 20 years experience working on SEO projects large and small, locally and globally across a range of sectors.

If you need any SEO advice or would like him to look at your next project then get in touch to arrange a free consultation.