The dynamic effects of link buidling

by Steen Öhman on 12. September 2009

We have always wanted test the dynamics of link building, as the dynamic effects sometimes can be rather dramatic, and even get you penalized by the search engines.

So we decided to use a little time on a small scale live test of link building to a new site. The results were quite interesting, and somewhat surprising.

The Link Building test

We did a small scale test on link building to a new Danish domain (.dk).

The links were build organically by making comments on random blogs covering the same topic as the site. The comments we did were on topic, and made individually for each comment – so no blog-spamming. We made comments on both nofollow and dofollow blogs.

During 2 months in the spring of 2009 we build 257 links to the site. The maximum number of links build in one day was 17, but most day’s five to ten links were made, and some days we were really lazy and nothing was done.

Link building test

Search Engine link reports

We monitored the link building process with Yahoo Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools.

The link reports from Google and Yahoo are as you all know not always very accurate or consistent for that matter. So we wanted to check how these tools performed in a relatively controlled test.

Link building test – Results

The graph below show the links reported by the two tools. The first observation is that the links to the site increases very quickly after one month.

Our research showed this increase was indirect effects of the link building, as most of these links were additional links from the sites were the link building was done. The main source was links from “recent comments” widgets on the blogs, where we almost got a link per indexed page of the blog.

Link building test results

Actually the number of backlinks topped at 3500 links, where only 257 links were build, and only a few other links to the site were found in the link reports.

The graph also shows that Yahoo reports the links quicker than Google, but this is mostly due to the fact that Google only made a weekly update of the report in Webmaster tools. It also seems like Yahoo keep the links longer in the index, after the links are removed from the sites linking to our site.

Take Away

The most important take away is the dynamic effects of the link building i.e. the extra links created on the blogs in the form of links from “recent comments widgets” and other site wide links.

These links can really create a balloon effect in your link building, where you create 200 or more links by making one comment on a blog. These links are not permanent and could create problems with the search engines. Getting 3500 links in only two month on a new domain can easily catch the search engines attention, and get you penalized.

It’s therefore important to check the blogs out before you make the comments. If they have links in a “recent comments” widget then be careful, as you might get a link from every indexed page on this site, just from making one comment. If your site has many links, and is established then there is no problem, but if your site is new, with very few links, then 300 links from one site could get you into trouble with the search engines.

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