Should you backlink your hubs?

Should you work hard to promote your hubs and get lots of traffic? Should you be willing to publicize your hubs, and even to shell out good money for this publicity? Or is this bad etiquette and something that could eventually get you unpublished on Hubpages? Listen to the official word on this subject as delivered by Simone Smith, of Hubpages.

The Hubpages Guide to Backlinking

A Picture of Links

Links in Chainmail Image Credit: Wikipedia
Links in Chainmail Image Credit: Wikipedia

How and Where to Get Quality Traffic and Backlinks

Backlinking Can Backfire

Having a lot of links is good, as not only will people come to your hub from the links themselves, the search engines will bring you even more people, if you rank high by the number and quality of links that you have.

So not only is it good to be popular, it is even better to appear to be popular! Being popular means you have lots of friends. But when people know that you are popular, they will want to be friends with you even if they don't actually like you.

Search engines are like social metaphysicians, to borrow a keyword coined by Ayn Rand. Search engines don't actually read your content and make their own independent critical evaluation. They depend on other people to do their reading for them. If you can fool them into thinking that lots of other people are impressed with your hubs, they will rank you high.

And guess what, real flesh and blood people also do not make independent evaluations of everybody's writing. Nobody can read everything. So human beings have delegated a lot of their reading to search engines. This is why, if the search engines rank you high, more people will come and read you.

But what Simone is telling us in her video is: don't do it! Don't pay for backlinks! That's cheating. If we find that you've done this, your backlinking days will be over. Backlinking can backfire!

Approach Number One: Do Nothing

I'm lazy. I don't like to work. I'd rather be writing original content than slaving away at backlinks. I like Simone's "Approach Number One: Do Nothing." I'd like to think that I offer something of value to readers and that eventually they will discover it for themselves.

Sure, I have a Facebook account, and Twitter, and I have a blog, and a homepage,and YouTube account, and I even post on Misha's "self promotion" bulletin board, for all the good it does me. I also have a Xomba account, but I usually forget to use it. I've written a lot more hubs than I have Xomba squibs.

And no, I have never, ever paid for a backlink. However, I can't say that Google hasn't tried to tempt me. Before I even got my first payout, Google sent me a flyer asking me to advertise with them. They promised that they could get me lots of traffic for my site!

Imagine that! Traffic in return for money. Who ever heard of that concept?

Paying for Links is Cheating

Paying for a link is cheating. It's like using money to get prestige. It's like a member of the bourgeoisie buying a title, instead of earning it on the field of battle, the way you're supposed to. But... isn't that the whole point of advertising? Isn't buying ads instead of depending on word of mouth a form of cheating?

Isn't that what all of us are depending on for our payout?

The truth is that I'm happy not to pay for backlinks. It makes me feel better about myself. The best things in life should be free, and I'm not paying for another person's esteem.

And yet... isn't that the name of the game? Isn't that what drives everything we do here at Hubpages? Just something to ponder.

Copyright 2010 Aya Katz

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Comments 34 comments

Misha profile image

Misha 6 years ago from DC Area

Aya, paying for links is not cheating, it is just a regular business. Like you pay for electricity, etc. You can generate your own of course, or you can use a candle - your choice. But being a purist candle may be still too much, so you can get up and down with the sun. :)

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Hi, Misha. Glad you noticed this one! I realize it's business as usual to pay for links. I'm not doing it myself, because I don't think I know enough about this business to make an informed decision about who or what is trustworthy.

But I'm also confused by the current Hubpages policy on this topic. I enjoy the Hubpages community and am grateful for the readership it has gotten me. I don't want to run afoul of the rules, whatever they happen to be.

Misha profile image

Misha 6 years ago from DC Area

Well, pclown is not Hubpages staff, and he does not define the policy - he is just very vocal about his personal illusions LOL.

I don't think Hubpages team is after regular backlinking, but they definitely are against spamming other sites. Sometimes there is a very thin line between those, yet most of the time it is pretty obvious. Just stay away from obvious spam until you feel the difference, and you should be fine. :)

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Misha, I wasn't referring to anything pclown may have said in this hub. I was quoting Simone Smith, who is on Hubpages staff. Did you watch her video?

sid_candid profile image

sid_candid 6 years ago

Hi Aya, great hub on backlink an important topic. Thanks a lot.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Sid Candid, thanks for your comment. Backlinking is a slippery topic.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA

Business or not business, I would never pay online for something that is not a product that I receive by mail. Maybe I am overcautious, but I have a habit to ignore any stuff that wants your credit card number in exchange for information, or for online service.

I noticed that when the hub has good keywords, backlinks just appear by themselves :)

I think this hub made a good point. Thanks, Aya.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, ReuVera. Backlinks do seem to appear all on their own, when a hub is well received. And eighty percent of my traffic is organic, anyway. I suspect that Hubpages have already given us a big boost of authority for being part of this site, and purchasing more just might be overkill.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida

I would never pay for backlinks. I would love to make more money, but can't really see spending money to maybe, possibly make money. I will work my normal job until I make enough money writing, so I can quit. It may take longer, but so what.

MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Backlinking is hard work, writing is easier, for me anyway. I do some backlinking on Stumble and She told me and maybe others but not all the time. Thanks for clearing a few things up Aya, I hadn't seen Simone's video yet and I like the idea of doing nothing - gives me more time to write. :)

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Anna Marie Bowman, thanks! That's a very sensible policy. One of the great things about Hubpages is that participation is free, so anything we make here is a bonus. But all that would disappear if we paid for backlinks.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

MPG Narratives, thanks for your comment. Doing nothing -- nothing but writing, that is -- sounds good to me, too!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

Good information and good advice. I would never even think of paying for backlinks. I agree with you, I like the holistic approach! :D

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Suzanne, thanks! I like this new term that you've introduced: the holistic approach. It turns out that I favor the holistic approach to lots of things, not just backlinking!

yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 6 years ago from California

Honestly, I feel paying for backlinks is more relevant to your website not hubs!

Hubs are for fun!

Good insight!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Yenajeon, thanks for your comment. You're right. It would make more sense to invest in backlinks for your private website. Here at Hubpages we get plenty of backlinks for free. And, yes, fun is the key. If it's not fun, why do it?

wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

Good Day Aya Katz

Great hub! I voted it up for useful and awesome. This is one of the few how-to articles, here on HubPages, that approaches what we do here sensibly. I'm sure you are aware of the dozens and dozens of articles written by our dear fellow hubbers, which seem to imply (I stress the word 'imply') that one can actually make a living doing this.

They always have this or that suggestion for SEO. You need to do this or that or sign up with this service or that to "increase traffic to your hubs," and the like.

What I always tell people is this: there are two ways to think about HubPages in the long-term. 1) Just remember, we are on the Internet (and if the content and writing is good), one never knows who may be reading your work at any time (so be consistent); you might find yourself being offered a writing job with a magazine or something [I tell people to think about HubPages as a natural platform for their talent, rather than for the $100 AdSense Google checks].

2) Just think. I see you, Aya Katz, has been with HubPages for at least two years (in addition to the other sites you write on) -- Do you know it is quite probable that more people have read your words than had read the words of Socrates, Shakespeare, Milton, St. Augustine (at the time they wrote them!)

Now, consider this. It is fifty thousand years from now. Our descendants have returned to the Earth to carry out their archeological and anthropological studies (if the planet is still around).

Remember, why do we consider Socrates to be such a genius? We discovered his work through archeology!

Back to our hypothetical. Suppose these archeologists/anthropologists wander around and a team finds their way into a Starbucks. They pick around the rubble and the pick up a laptop (and they have the means to retrieve the data somehow). Guess what? That laptop is yours, Aya Katz! The laptop is yours! You might have immortality for yourself, in a way.

Do you ever think of it? Your words might be meaningful to a plurality of people tens of thousands of years from now? Do you ever think of it?

In addition to all that, I agree with you one hundred percent. The best approach is to "do nothing," except write original, meaningful content.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

WingedCentaur, thanks for the great comment! A comment like this always makes my day!

I've been thinking about immortality, too, in the context of our web writing here on Hubpages. Here is a hub I wrote about it:

I don't think, though, that data on a hard drive of a laptop will survive long. That's why we need to generate lots of hard copies, too. Which is why I am looking into Print on Demand as a way to spread my words. Imagine this: other people paying for copies of my works to be printed out. Never mind if I make so much as a penny off it. Just the fact that others are pitching in their own money to spread the word is great!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

Yes, I generally prefer the holistic approach, too! :)

kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago

Great Aya. That's all I need on a Friday night is something to ponder! Seriously, thanks for being a voice of reason...and caution.

Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago

This is a good hub. I haven't written many hubs but have found that many people who are not on hub pages have found them by looking on Google. I have had many comments from people who live in the places I have written about.

So I don't think I would bother with back linking anyway. The amount of money I have earned in a year is so small that I wouldn't pay a company to send traffic to my pages.

My first aim in joining hub pages was to earn money because I had read articles from people who claim to be able to make a living from it. But in fact I enjoy the interaction between others and there are so many interesting things to read about. Too many to read. So I am not giving up my day job yet. This is really just an enjoyable hobby.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

JustmeSuzanne, I'm thinking of writing a hub about the holistic approach to learning. Studying is like cheating -- like paying for backlinks instead of letting them build themselves. I wonder if there would be any way to incorporate this hub into that one, as the principle is really the same: holistic is better!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Kimh039, thanks for your comment. Caution in this matter is really advisable. Many of the people who are now working hard to become professionals here on Hubpages and are coaching each other on SEO are on thin ice when it comes to what Google wants. Many a technique that has worked in the past for them is being targeted now as illegitimate. Thankfully, I never was a hard enough worker to take any of that advice, even when it would have netted a certain amount of gain.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Hummingbird, yes, it's very hard to earn anything comparable to a normal salary just by writing hubs, but writing hubs is still well worth doing if you enjoy it and like the Hubpages community. Personally, I think our day jobs should be fun, too. I've never liked the distinction that people make between hobbies and real jobs. But... you can't really ever expect to earn as much doing only what you love to do. That's why they thought up the term "starving artist."

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Hi Aya - If I was seriously thinking of making web-writing my main living, I'd start by emigrating to South Thailand or the Philippines - somewhere with a non-western cost of living. My present adsense earnings are peanuts in UK and Qatar, but would go quite far in some places.

Especially if I also made all of my own wine and beer.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Paraglider, so good to see you here! I don't live in South Thailand or the Philippines, but neither do I live in NYC or any other major city of the Western world. I've chosen to live in the rural Ozarks, because the cost of living is lower and personal freedom is higher.

All those social programs that progressives support -- "free" health care, "free" roads, "free" insurance -- are exactly what drives the cost of living so high in most cities. To live off Adsense earnings, we need to steer clear of those things.

It's also why most major manufacturers are outsourcing.

H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

Every body in general likes to be linked with like minded people. I am also not exceptional. I appreciate the guide lines of the hub.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

H. P. Roychoudhury, thanks for your comment. I think that in the long run we all benefit from these guidelines.

Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 6 years ago from SE MA

Hi. "pclown" here.

Misha is giving bad advice, as usual. Go with what HP and Google say, not the dishonest techniques Misha and his pals promote.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Pcunix, wow, I had no idea who Misha meant when he mentioned pclown! Sorry. In this case, I am happy to follow the HP staff's advice because it coincides with my natural inclinations.

Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 6 years ago from SE MA

Misha and a number of the other self proclaimed SEO "experts" dislike me intensely because I advise NOT playing the games they advise. They call me a fool and say I give "dangerous" advice.

I was SO happy to see that Learning Center page. If I am a fool and dangerous, then so is HubPages - but I don't think they are going to say that :)

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Pcunix, those games, I think, might work for a short period of time, but in the long run they are bound to fail. They will either be found out by Google or Google will go under because of the deception, and either way, it's not good, if we plan to make money off Google.

I like Misha, and I consider him one of my online friends, but we don't always agree about everything.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK

Hi Aya, I generally fall into either the 'do nothing', or the 'do very little' categories. I wonder if this is laziness on my part, or whether it will somehow pay off in the end. Only time will tell!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Hi, Amanda. Like you, I prefer doing nothing or very little when it comes to back-linking. I think "laziness" is a term that makes sense only in reference to one activity and not another. People who prefer not to do one thing will do something else, so that if you looked at all the things people do, nobody is really lazy overall. It's just a question of allocating resources. Those of us who prefer to write simply put more of our internal resources into writing.

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