Why Buying Followers and Backlinks Hurts a Website

You are here: HomeSearch Engine OptimizationDon’t Buy Followers or Backlinks!

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Avoid Buying Backlinks or Followers and Do This Instead
Trying to buy “high quality” backlinks or followers is a bad idea if you’re trying to rank in search engine results!

If you’re reading this, you probably know a little about website ranking and backlinks but not entirely sure how they can help one another.

You’ve also probably discovered that taking shortcuts on the above items is a bad idea. To add, the same goes for buying followers on social media!

Speaking of shortcuts (and social media), have you ever come across an ad that markets “a possible solution for lack of social media followers?” Other examples: “Buy 1000 followers for $5!”, “Buy 1000 Backlinks for $5!” etc.

If so, lets hope that you didn’t go for it.

If you did, then hopefully you’ve learned a lesson and are now looking for a solution.

Anyway, if you’ve already been down this road and ‘made the purchase,’ then you know that those tactics can mess up and inflate social media results. Not only that, but if you bought backlinks, then your website rankings could get totally skewed.

This post will help explain how buying backlinks and followers could mess up social media marketing and ranking results so you can avoid them in advance, and we’ll throw in some tactics to consider instead.

Let’s get to it!

Why is buying followers is a BAD idea

It’s understandable why some may think that buying followers is “no big deal.”

The illusion seems to stem from the reasoning that doing so will save a ton of time and somehow improve SEO. Simultaneously, it gives an illusion that an account is more “popular” than it is.

However, doing so does the complete opposite! Not only do fake followers dilute stats to the point that you’ll have no clue what REAL followers need, but it’s also against the rules of many social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Meaning, accounts that buy followers can get permanently deactivated! Plus, purchased followers don’t usually interact with posts in a beneficial way to your business. After all, they’re fake!

Bought followers can also harm an online reputation by posting or tagging your profile to spambots. Plus, your REAL followers tend to be curious about the type of followers your brand has. Would you want to be associated with a company that fools its audience? NO WAY! On top of that, it’s super apparent as to which profiles/accounts follow those types of practices and which ones don’t!

Even worse, you’ll eventually have to fix this issue. (Huge waste on time!)

What to do when choosing future followers (vs. buying followers)?

Create an internal checklist that qualifies who you’ll follow or follow back in the future!

First things first, though, be sure to do a social media audit on your account before unfollowing anyone. Performing an audit will help you better understand who your followers are vs. who you want to attract in the future.

The next thing to do is to make a checklist of your ideal followers. So you’ll know how to spot a follower in your perfect target audience and avoid those pesky spam accounts in the future.

Ideal Follower Checklist Example ↓

Ideal Social Media Follower Checklist
This checklist is an example of what to look for and consider when targeting followers and other businesses on social media.

On a side note, most social media networks have set limits on how many accounts you can follow/unfollow each day. Don’t worry, though; the numbers are pretty difficult to hit (unless you’re a spambot!)

Tip: If you’re looking for tools to help make this process a bit more manageable, check out tools like UnTweeps or Crowdfire.

Backlinks are a powerful piece of SEO! However, the misconception is that quickly gaining as many backlinks as possible is good for your site.

Link schemes don’t work!

Buying backlinks might seem helpful to a new site that doesn’t have any, BUT has anyone told you that Google (and other search engines) track how fast sites accumulate backlinks? In other words, if a search engine detects a massive influx of backlinking to any website, it raises questions. Plus, if the links aren’t legit and earned over time, they’ll flag a site for the sudden spike. Search engines get even more suspicious when those links have nothing to do with your target audience, industry, etc.!

Remember: Backlinks need to occur naturally and over time. If your content is valuable, it’ll resonate on its own (with the help of marketing, of course!)

All backlinks are unique, and each one has a different ranking value (validity) based on a multitude of SEO factors, algorithms, etc. One example of a not-so-helpful backlink would be if a computer parts store pointed toward a food delivery service website.

Here are some other examples:

  • Irrelevant backlinks
    • If it comes from something that has nothing to do with your industry, it’s no good.
  • Backlinks pointing to your pages with 404/410 errors
  • Coming from sites with low-value content and low amounts of quality material
  • The site has duplicate content issues
  • Written in foreign languages outside of target countries
  • Violates Google Webmaster’s Guidelines
    • Includes illegal activities and substances
  • Websites that are easy to link to
    • Link farms
    • Social bookmarking sites
    • Blog networks
  • Hacked websites and contains malware

If you’re looking for a free backlink checker, go with Google Search Console > Search Traffic > Links to Your Site. It’ll show you your site’s backlinks, along with a few other options.

Getting rid of useless/spammy/bad backlinks can sometimes be a daunting task depending on how many you have.

The good news = you have a couple of routes.

First, you can go to the website (if the site looks safe to visit) and ask for the web developer to remove your link from their website. Always ask nicely, and if they ask you to pay for the link removal, use option #2.

The next option is to use the Google Disavow tool. Note: it doesn’t remove backlinks from websites but only asks Google to “ignore” them, so they don’t hurt your site.

Next, add those backlinks to a text (.txt) file, and be sure to double-check that you aren’t adding any valuable backlinks to the disavow list. (TIP: make sure to update this list in the future, in case you ever need to use the Google disavow tool again. Plus, it’ll help to keep your disavowed backlinks separated from the ones you want to keep and track them over time.)

Next, when you upload the .txt (disavow) file, it replaces the previous data and can take a few weeks to take effect. Don’t worry if it doesn’t show right away or even within the next week or two.

That’s it!

We’ve gone over why buying followers and backlinks do more harm than good, how to avoid doing so and how to fix them if it happens to you. Overall, you don’t want to appear “spammy” nor participate in practices that make you that way.

In summary: don’t risk it!

Final Words

If you’re looking for more social media tips, check out our post on 10 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies and social media marketing apps to use in 2018! Alternatively, if you want more info on website optimization, here’s a post on how to fix duplicate content on your website and how to avoid over-optimizing.

Until next time!

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