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By: Jameson Ballinger, Z Networks Group

The process of link building can be both difficult and frustrating, and not just from the point of link builders, but perhaps more importantly from the viewpoint of the client. Search engine optimization costs a pretty penny—especially to hire a high quality firm—and it can be tempting for a client to compare dollars spent to links gained or traffic to a site. This is a dangerous game to play, however, and SEO experts will tell you, it’s impossible to guarantee links or traffic in any kind of concrete numbers. It’s in your best interest to shop around. Decide if you want a local SEO company, for example, if you’re based in Miami, or even Florida, is there a quality company in your region, or would it be better to reach out to a nationally based company?

So what are you spending money on?

We live in a world that thrives on instant results. Just look at cell phone use and twitter. With the virtual world at our fingertips some find it impossible to take a step back from social media sites or email, even long after they’ve left the office. SEO doesn’t work that way though. Although it’s a modern practice, the time, diligence and wait involved is more similar to past eras where time seemed to run on a different, slower scale. Unfortunately though, the rest of the world doesn’t slow down and companies waiting for SEO to “kick in” can feel like they’re left in the lurch while they watch competitor zoom by, so what gives?

First, link building is a process. If it was easy, you wouldn’t have hired someone to do it for you. Second, building links and seeing the results of those links takes time as well. As more (relevant and quality) links are added to your backlink portfolio it takes time for the Google spiders to crawl those pages and index the links pointing back to your site. Furthermore, a single month cultivating links won’t make a vast difference. SEO is an investment and like any investment it takes time to see returns.

Then why do some companies rise in the rankings much faster than others?

Not all link building practices are the same. There is more than one way to grow a backlink portfolio and some are considered shady and will eventually result in penalties from Google, but that doesn’t mean that some of your competitors aren’t still dabbling in these practices. Whatever their reasoning is, rest assured although they currently may be surpassing you in the rankings this won’t continue forever and although you may be tempted to engage in some risky practices of your own, the risk isn’t worth it if you want to build a sustainable brand and a solid asset.

When do companies escape the wrath of Google?

If you want to build a company that can stand the test of time, frankly, it will never be worth it for you to engage in black hat SEO. There are a few companies, however, that have been able to fly under the radar for a very specific reason.

As I discussed above, quality link building takes time, but consider the companies that only exist for a short time around the holidays or sell cell phone accessories for a model that will only be relevant for a matter of months. These companies can’t really invest in long term, quality SEO and by the time Google has gotten around to de-indexing them or dropping them in the SERPs, they no longer exist. I am not recommending anyone necessarily engage in SEO practices that Google penalizes, I am simply pointing out some companies are able to get away with it on a temporary basis.

The overarching point is; this is troublesome for companies that plan to exist in the long term and think they can get away with similar tactics.

Best case scenario: you don’t get punished by Google, but your links are eventually devalued or de-indexed and you nose dive in the SERPs and although you went the more ‘cost effective’ route, you now have to start back at square one building up your company all over again. Sure there will be another low-cost avenue you can explore, but to what end? You will be caught in an endless cycle of rising and falling in the ranks while your competitor who took the ‘slow and steady route’ will over time experience long-term sustainable results.

Worst case scenario: Google will smite you down and you will never recover.

Conclusion: it’s just not worth the risk if you want your business to be around ten years from now.

Jameson Ballinger is a writer, currently working with Z Networks Group, based in beautiful Miami, Florida. Jameson has written extensively about web design and marketing and works to help local Miami businesses create affordable, yet quality SEO backlink portfolios.

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