Linkbuilding can be creative, interesting, strategic, subtle, and fun. It can also be tedious, as when you’re filling out forms for directories. Many of us, when doing this type of linkbuilding, have been tempted to try automatic submission software.
I would never do this for my own site, nor for a client’s site. But when a free copy arrived in my mailbox, I figured it was time to check it out, using our lab site. I felt some trepidation, even so. FreshPlans, the lab site in question, is a nice website. We have good traffic, good content, subscribers, and just about 600 links (836, according to Webmaster Tools) growing from half a dozen we placed early on.
But the site has been up for about five months now, so it’s time to do a linkbuilding campaign, and that made FreshPlans the perfect guinea pig for the software test.
The software in question is GSA Auto Web Submitter. The company that makes this software also makes software for genetic analysis, security, and accounting. This particular program asks you to fill out a form with personal information (address, phone number, stuff like that) and the URL and description of your site. You can customize the submission experience to limit the countries, but FreshPlans has visitors from 118 countries and territories, so I went ahead with the default options.
You can also specify how many submissions you want; I agreed to the suggestion to stop after 100 successful submissions. The software attempted 171 submissions and succeeded with 64 before it stopped. Math issues, maybe. The submissions were attempted in alphabetical order.
- Is it fast? Yes. A good five hour campaign of linkbuilding by a skilled human linkbuilder can achieve 50 quality directory-type links. This software achieved 64 in about half an hour. I spent the time filling in the letters for captchas , confirming submissions by email, and resolving questions about classifications, a feature that certainly improves the results of this software over 100% automatic systems.
- Is it easy? Yes. While my extremely sketchy German was taxed a bit in reading some of the confirmation request emails, the interface was very simple to use. If you know nothing about linkbuilding, you might need to read the documentation, but no one should find this difficult to use.
- Are the links high quality? No. When we run a linkbuilding campaign, we seek out the most useful relevant directories and specialized search engines, make sure they’re quality sites, and craft highly optimized descriptions. We’re rarely turned down, and many of the links will bring traffic. The software submitted to scads of PR zero directories with foreclosure ads on the homepage, places like Adultwebcam (this submission fortunately failed), and the Australian music directory, a great choice for some other site. The software gives you the PageRank of the sites, but when I went and checked, I found that sites claiming a PR5 were actually PR0. There were perhaps two submissions that I would have considered making myself –and I could certainly have done that in the half hour I spent on the automatic submissions.
- Is it cheap? Maybe. I used a free trial. Pricing ranges from $52 a month to $518 for a lifetime purchase, or $1350 for a web submission service. Professional linkbuilders cost more than $52 a month. However, $52 is a lot to pay for something that doesn’t benefit your website, and I think that’s what we have here.
Three weeks after the experiment, we see no increase in the number of links Yahoo recognizes, and no traffic from the links the automatic submission software claimed to have gained for us. Our webmaster tools are showing 1,218 links; this is an increase of 382 links over the number listed before we ran the software.
FreshPlans gains hundreds of links a month on its own, through having good quality content. A lot of these links are in blogrolls, which may not be high value but which can certainly send traffic. Others are from school websites and others which nofollow as a matter of policy, but which can again send significant traffic. My auto submission experiment claimed that it generated 64 links, all of which were of such low quality that the search engines don’t recognize them. From where I stand, it doesn’t look like a bargain.