I have been in the linkbuilding industry for almost ten years and I have been hustled quite a few times before, and I know how destructive this can be for smaller companies, who usually have limited resources and time.
In this article I will try to give you some insights into how links are built, and why it is so important that you trust those you do business with – this is the case in most parts of life – but the linkbuilding industry is notoriously known for scammers, bad brokers and companies trying to hustle iGaming affiliates.
What Is Linkbuilding:
In short and in a non-technical term linkbuilding is the acquisition of backlinks to your website(s). Now there are quite a few ways to obtain links but usually I divide them into two groups:
- Earned Links
- Paid Links
Earned vs. Paid – the pro and cons
When speaking of Earned vs. Paid links the end goal is the same – to get as many quality links as possible linking to your website. The biggest difference is how you approach the situation.
Earned links are as the name suggest links that other website create to your site, quite simply because it makes sense for them to do so. A good example is me linking to “Moz” below: a site that contains many useful guides when it comes to SEO/Linkbuilding. You can find a beginner’s guide to understanding linkbuilding right here. The have created content of high quality for many years and are a trusted source of information, so it is natural for people to link to their site.
Creating and maintaining such a site with this massive amount of content is quite a task, which is why many smaller companies have a hard time creating Earned Links. You should always try to create the best possible content for your site, which over time could lead to free links.
Paid Links is to the go-to strategy for most companies including major companies in the iGaming business. To obtain the needed organic (high) rankings on Google in this industry – the sheer number of backlinks and the quality of these is the single most important ranking factor. This is also the reason why so many of our clients are spending considerable amounts of their marketing budgets on buying links. This leads me to the core part of this article – Why Trust is so Important when Building Links.
How does Paid Linkbuilding Work?
To keep it as simple as possible you can view this type of Linkbuilding as any other type of business transaction. You need a specific commodity and you need to find a supplier. The supplier in this case is usually one of two entities: the actual owner of the specific site you wish to acquire a link from, or a person who know the owner of the site – this person is what I will refer to as a Broker.
If you have a website within the iGaming industry, I am almost certain that you have received plenty of mails and messages on LinkedIn from Brokers who wish to sell you content/links leading to your website. Just to be clear – I know many professional Brokers who pride themselves in delivering a good product, but on the other hand for every professional Broker I am quite sure there is five times as many Bad Brokers and scammers trying to hustle you and the owner of the site.
How Bad Brokers and Scammers Usually Work:
Below you will find a short introduction to how Brokers usually work, and how you can avoid being scammed:
- The Broker contacts you with one or more possible websites, where the Broker can add content and links leading to your website.
- You find the offer attractive and agree to pay X amount for a publication on one or more of the sites proposed
- The Broker then contacts the owner of the site and offers to pay Z amount for the publication usually 20-50% percent cut in the Brokers favor – and sometimes more. (Which is one of the reasons why you should try to deal with the owner directly if possible).
- The owner of the site accepts the deal and adds the content to the site.
- The Broker reports back to you with the URL to the link, so you can see your content is online.
- The Broker ask you to pay the amount that you agreed upon. Brokers only using PayPal is usually a warning sign – ask for an invoice with bank details etc.
- You pay the agreed upon amount and the transaction for your part is done. (The owner of the site will of course ask the Broker for payment – and in most cases the Broker always pays after receiving their payment from you.)
If you deal with professional Brokers, this should pretty much be a clear-cut example of a business transaction that offers value to everyone involved. But what if you are dealing with a Bad Broker or a scammer?
This is when thing get dicey – I will try to explain how the scam works:
- The Broker now refuses to pay the invoice issued by the owner of the site. This usually takes place 3-10 days after your content is online.
- The owner asks repeatedly for payment, but by now the Bad Broker is not replying anymore. Depending on the setup most companies will begin to suspect something is wrong by now.
- Since the owner did not get paid, they now remove the content form their site that you paid a Broker to publish. Being the owner of the site, the worst part is having spent time dealing with the now Bad Broker and having to remove the content, cancel the invoices etc.
- This leaves you in a very hard spot. You paid the Bad Broker and your content is gone, and the owner of the site did not receive any form of payment. This means that not only have you lost your money – you have also spent a long time dealing with this Bad Broker. Time and money that could been paying off by now.
Since we own more than 200 websites we have been dealing with these Bad Brokers for many years – and I would like to share a few tips with you which I hope can help you stay clear of most of these scammers.
Five Telltales of a Bad Broker
- You are approached by person whom you have never head of or dealt with. Usually from a Gmail account or by LinkedIn with a poorly written profile.
- The way the person communicates is often with a very poor understanding of English, bad grammar and copy/paste replies.
- Once contact is established you are bombarded with a wide range of sites, with the best offers possible – often to good to be true. You are constantly urged to do this deal as fast as possible and they can handle everything for you.
- Payment is ONLY handled by PayPal or other services and never by bank. You will never get an invoice and even if you do get one it looks off.
- You have to pay before your content is online.
As you can see above it is quite clear that we are dealing with an unprofessional person, and even if this person is not a scammer I would think twice before working with people who come of as unprofessional. These five signs are not the end all be all guide to spot a scammer – but it should give you some idea of what to look for.
Finally, I would like to give you some general tips on how to approach Linkbuilding, and how you can try to take the necessary precautions in order to get the most value from your efforts.
(The first advice below is clearly biased as we own all of our sites – but I really think this is an important step to consider)
Five Easy Steps to Avoid Being Scammed
- Try to deal with the owner of the website directly. In many cases they can offer you better rates than brokers, and it also ensures that you have somewhere to turn to if your content suddenly ends up missing. A Bad Broker could care less about your content after he gets paid.
- Even if the owner will not deal with you directly at least you can ask if the Broker is to be trusted and get a feeling for the rates. (As mentioned earlier some Brokers will try to increase the cost by 100-300%).
- Ask around and see if anyone can recommend a specific person a company. Most people are eager to give recommendations if you ask nicely.
- When dealing with a specific person or company check their LinkedIn profile, company page or any other online information you might be able to find. Professional people are often easy to spot.
- Never commit fully to one person or company the first few deals. Try doing a few minor deals before committing to many resources to one single source. Once everything checks out and you have a good measure of the service, you can increase the budget.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
This is not a one-size fits all solution on how to approach Linkbuilding, but I hope this article have given you valuable insights to how Linkbuilding works, and what you can do to minimize the chances of being scammed.
Take it from someone who have been there and got the “I Got Scammed T-shirt” there is nothing more demoralizing than getting scammed.
If you have any questions, remarks or useful tips feel free to reach out and let me know.