Like Me? Follow Me.
I made the statement to a SASCON audience yesterday that one high quality link could do far more for a website than a thousand low-quality links on pages that may never be crawled - something which produced some rumbles in the crowd, although only Neil Walker saw fit to call me on it, asking afterwards, 'So, do you never buy links or do any bulk link purchases?.'
My response to Neil, which I think is worth repeating here, is the same response I always give when asked about whether I buy links - 'No. I never buy links. I do, however, pay for advertising on relevant websites which may send traffic. Sometimes that advertising takes the form of text links which also may help with rankings.'
I think that is not only an entirely true statement, but also a fairly white hat statement. Legitimate businesses advertise in places where potential customers might see those ads. If a search engine also happens to consider those links a reason to rank my clients' sites higher, then it's even better value for us. It's really not my problem if a webmaster chooses not to mark my advertisement with a rel='nofollow' and a search engine isn't clever enough to work out I paid for the link. The link is there to promote my client's business. Search engines can do what they will with that link data.
In terms of bulk links - again, of course we perform some degree of low level link building via articles, online PR, and, oh yes, links on resources pages, etc. Why? Because it looks natural. If you only have high PR links, or only have directory links, etc., that is as manipulated a link profile as only having thousands of sitewide footer links, forum profile links and blog comment spam links. You should do a bit of everything.
I still stand by my statement about quality over quantity and here's why: if you're optimising a site in a competitive SERP where all your competitors are going to town acquiring low level, crappy, off-topic links in bulk and you match what they're doing to some degree, then taking the time to source some good, authoritative links via guest blog posts, charity affiliations, professional memberships and high quality niche directories will likely be the thing that gives you the edge over your competition.
It's never enough to do just what everyone else is doing to rank well - you always need to do better. If you do, you'll find that you not only improve your clients' rankings, traffic, but you'll also add value to their brand which will help grow their revenues even faster.