Linkfarming is something that people used to do and rely on for years with SEO. Linkfarming is something that worked but now it isn’t that effective, and if Google finds it they can and will penalize you. Although I don’t ever recommend link farming and don’t think you should use an SEO firm that does, here are three ways that you can get caught and penalized by Google for link farming, even if you didn’t know it was a form of link farming.
Linkfarming is building a network of sites that all link to each other or throughout each other to build authority, backlinks and pagerank.
1. Placing your company name with text links in the footer of all your sites. Although you may not realize it, if you have 20 web properties or even just a few and all of them are linking to each other and you have your company name there (with a link), it is easy to map the group of sites together as well as the brand that owns them. This could be seen as a link farm and could potentially penalize you. This is a very common type of link farm to see with media companies that own a lot of properties, and the reason they do well with it is because they already had the authority. Another common place to see this is on as seen on tv products pages where they link all of their products and keywords together in the bottom of the page with the digital agencies name in the bottom of the page with a keyword link.
2. Using your footer for something other than helping your readers. Some companies will take their web properties and add in a keyword rich anchor text footer that interlinks all of their properties to rank them. Not only can this look like a spammy link farm, but it can cause you to get penalized when Google maps it out. You should be cautious of trying this. Years ago it worked well, now it can penalize you. This is also true about putting all of your blogs in your blog roll and interlinking them through the same keywords or names. You have to change it up and make it legit if you don’t want to risk being penalized or labeled as a link farm. You may also want to remember why people go to a footer and actually build it for them. User experience is just as important as SEO because if you’re site isn’t functional or easy to use, users will leave and Google knows this. Put your become an Affiliate link, contact us, sitemap, etc… in the footer which may help to provide a better user experience and probably won’t look like a link farm.
3. Linking all of your sites on one page as a directory of all of your properties. Some sites will list all of their properties with links to each of them on one page without changing copy, content or even adding or removing sites. Although they may do this as a media kit to show where you can advertise, etc… it could be seen as a link farm. One way to help prevent this is to no index each of these pages so that Google won’t crawl them. Google can still see them through the Chrome browser, analytics, etc… at least it may know that you are making an attempt not to rank and link them. If you just nofollow, you could be saying that these sites aren’t trustworthy enough to link to. One other option is to make the media kit downloadable and blog the spiders from ever being able to see it.
Although there are other ways to accidentally create a link farm like tons of reciprocal linking (when someone links to you and you link back to them), joining an actual link farm, using a link building/trading service, etc… it is best to build natural one way links to your site and avoid penalizations. You will also want to try to split up the links or make the pages and links not crawlable so that Google can see that you aren’t trying to build a link farm and are legitimately providing value to the website visitor.