Link Farm: How Does It Affect SEO?

Link farms are one of the most controversial methods in search engine optimization. It is also known as link networks, are groups of websites that connect to increase search rankings artificially. These link farms are not a recommended or ethical practice.

They are employed to manipulate the system and get an unfair advantage in search engine rankings.

While link building is a legal and encouraged SEO technique, link farms’ controlled and artificial nature has serious consequences for a website’s search performance.

Websites can temporarily increase their authority and relevance in the eyes of search algorithms by exchanging or buying links in bulk.

However, since search engines have improved their ability to detect and penalize link farms, these manipulative practices increasingly threaten rather than improve a website’s popularity.

Link farms have been one of the “black hat” strategies most targeted by Google updates such as Penguin and Panda, thus knowing their mechanics and hazards is important for anyone performing SEO. 

So let us discuss everything about Link Farming.

What is Link Farming?

Link farming is the process of artificially creating inbound links to manipulate search engine results. It involves building a network of low-quality websites and cross-linking them to improve linking metrics.

This strategy is referred to as black hat, which shows it is manipulative. It is also considered spam, and sites that search engines like Google identify as being active in link farms get penalized for it. Usually, the owner of a link farm sells links by adding them to existing posts or creating guest posts. 

Characteristics of a Link Farm

  • A large network of websites designed primarily to link to one another. These are referred to as satellite websites or private blog networks (PBNs).
  • The sites often use thin, automatically created text only to host links.
  • The sites have no organic editorial function; they exist just to provide links.
  • The links are meant to affect search rankings rather than provide contextual relevance.
  • Link farms are against search engine guidelines and may result in penalties if identified.
  • Link farms were more common in the early 2000s before search algorithms developed.
  • Google, Bing, and other search engines can now easily detect and remove link farm networks.
  • While links are still a ranking component, link farms provide manipulative links that can cause more harm than benefit.

Example of Link Farming Using an Expired Domain

Some search engine optimization (SEO) specialists use a highly common method: they gain expired domains with a high domain rating (DR) or domain authority (DA) score and then convert them into a link farm.

SEO tools Moz and Ahrefs created DA and DR scores to measure a website’s authority and relevance on a scale of 1 to 100.

The goal is to mislead SEO beginners into believing the link farm is a real and authoritative site. However, the fact is that these sites do not receive any consistent traffic from Google and were developed primarily to sell links.

Why Do Link Farms exist?


Google’s algorithm for ranking websites takes into account the number of backlinks a website has. This helps to increase a website’s authority since more sites connecting to its content make it appear more authoritative. These hyperlinks are regarded as an endorsement of that site, allowing it to rank better in organic search results.

Link farms were formed as a way to influence this aspect of the algorithm, and many of the larger link farms have already been taken down, with the sites they connected to receiving heavy penalties.

Does Google hate link farming?


Google has strong link-building standards and does not tolerate link farms. Link farms give no unique value to users and are comprised of low-quality, spammy links that can harm a website’s overall SEO performance.

In December 2022, Google released SpamBrain, an upgrade that removes incoming links from link farms. This means Google’s ranking system fully ignores and penalizes reciprocal linking from link farms.

Google’s ranking system now prioritizes backlink quality over quantity. According to them, operating link farms is now forbidden.

  • They generate spam links specifically to trick search engine algorithms.
  • The content elements on which they host the hyperlinks are thin and of poor quality. As a result, they give little benefit to online visitors.
  • Bots create hyperlinked sites in a bad manner, with little concern for user experience.
  • Websites connected by link farms frequently deal with unrelated topics.
  • A link farm does not have a logical flow channel connecting all the linked content pieces.

As Google is the world’s most popular search engine, following its SEO rules is important.

How to Identify a Link Farm?


While some link farms are simpler to detect, others appear to be authentic websites. Here are some of the primary indicators of a link farm.

a. A simple or templated design

Link farm owners often devote a lot of time or money to the appearance of their websites. They frequently use a simple page design from their hosting provider, with a few changes.

High-quality websites, on the other hand, usually include a customized design that improves the entire user experience.

b. Posts on unrelated subjects

Link farms are ready to send backlinks to any site that pays them. The result is a collection of papers on a vast variety of themes.

Be especially cautious of websites with many articles from competitive niches that are difficult to gain inbound links from.

c. Articles that are poorly written

Guest posts on link farms are not meant to be read. They’re designed to hide links to other sites.

This means that the persons providing this content will usually write it as easily as possible, resulting in low-quality, generic pieces.

d. Anonymous writers

People do not want their names affiliated with this sort of website. The author will frequently use an anonymous name, such as “guest writer,” “guest post,” or “Team [website name].”

e. Very little original content

People who run link farms do not devote much time to developing high-quality content for these websites. As a result, the majority of their work will be based on guest posts.

f. Ambiguous ‘about page’ information

Link farms often offer little ‘about page‘ information. You are unlikely to uncover the site owner or their contact information. If there is a contact page, it is mainly only a mechanism to inquire about buying links.

g. Many External Links

Link farms will have many external backlinks. Look for links awkwardly placed to unrelated sites with keyword-rich, descriptive anchor text.

Link Farms vs Private Blog Networks

                            Link Farms              Private Blog Networks
A densely connected network of sitesNetwork of authoritative niche sites that link out.
Link farms work only to influence rankings. PBNs attempt to create authoritative sites to get links.
Link farms include thin, low-value content. PBN sites frequently provide good-quality content.
They often have very low domain/page authority. Properly designed PBN sites can have significant authority.
Link farms regularly violate Google’s standards. White hat PBNs try to follow Google’s policies.

Is Link Farming Legal?

The Webmaster Guidelines for all search engines prohibit link farming. According to Google, breaking its link scheme criteria will have “a negative impact on a site’s ranking in the search results”.

This means that engaging in schemes like this may result in your site ranking worse in the SERPs owing to fines imposed by the search engines. These penalties are time-consuming to get rid of and can have a long-term impact on your site, so avoid link farms and similar methods.

Is Link Farming Worth the Risk?

Link farms are often created using automated scripts or programs and contain little to no unique content. Link farming may be harmful to your site in many ways.

Here are a few strong reasons why link farming should be avoided completely.

1. You can be penalized

One of the most serious implications of link farming is that Google and other search engines may penalize your website. If you are detected using link farming, your website may be permanently deleted from search engine results pages , which would be bad for the business.

If Google detects link farming, they may delete your site from their index, making it nearly impossible for people to find it. Link farming is a dangerous approach that has disastrous effects. If you want to boost your search engine results, prioritize high-quality links above quantity. 

2. You cannot trust the quality

Never assume that one backlink is equally effective as another. Google and other search engines are extremely proficient at determining the quality of a link’s source, and low-quality links will not be rewarded.

Remember to use high-quality backlinks:

  • Are natural, authentic, and organic.
  • Come from a reliable and trusted source.
  • Cite a source that is related to the linked information.
  • Are connected to the surrounding information in a manner that makes sense.

Backlinks from link farms lack all of these characteristics and are likely to impact your SEO efforts in the long term negatively.

3. It wastes both time and money

Link farming is a huge waste of time and money. Creating all of those false connections is time-consuming and expensive if you hire someone to do it for you. Not to mention that link farming is an inefficient approach to boosting your search engine rankings.

4. You can’t trust longevity

Even if the link farm’s owner maintains a tight operation to prevent being shut down or penalized, there is no assurance that the links will remain live indefinitely.

Link farms often go down just as quickly and unexpectedly as they came up, which means that all of the backlinks you paid for may simply vanish. Even if the link farm is still operational, there is no guarantee that your connections will not be withdrawn or modified without notice.

5. It is against Google’s guidelines

The Google Webmaster Guidelines specify that “participating in link schemes” is a violation. So, if you are detected link farming, you are not only violating Google’s guidelines, but you may also face a penalty.

6. It can lower your rankings

Link farming is not just a waste of time and money; it may also harm your search engine results. That’s because search engines are becoming more successful at spotting link farms and penalizing sites that engage in them.

7. You might end up with a bad reputation

Link farming is the systematic creation of backlinks to a website to boost its position in search engine results pages. Link farms are often created by spammers and may be penalized by search engines. Link farming may harm your website’s reputation. If you are detected link farming, you may end yourself on a blacklist, making it difficult for people to locate your website.

How to Know If Your Link-Building Service Uses Link Farms?


Unfortunately, some SEO firms use link farming to generate inbound links for their customers. They use this to avoid the time-consuming and costly process of properly creating links, such as publishing excellent content and performing manual outreach.

Instead, they might simply create hyperlinks on link farms they control or work with to artificially boost your DA. The problem is that it is impossible to predict which websites backlink-building services will use to generate links. Here are the warning indicators that should cause you to think twice.

a. Guaranteed links: There are no guarantees in link building; it is up to website owners to determine whether to connect to your website. If a provider offers links to a specific site or kind of site, it may be engaging in link farming.

b. Fast links: Creating backlinks requires time. You must first identify appropriate websites, negotiate with their owners, and then develop relevant, high-quality content. Look for services that offer speedy outcomes.

c. Low cost: Effective link building costs money. Manual outreach and guest posting may be costly. If the price is suspiciously cheap, it indicates that the provider may be using shortcuts such as link farming.

d. Lack of results: Farmed links are ineffective. If the service is unable to produce specific testimonials or case studies showing how it has affected other sites’ search rankings, it is a clear red flag.

Unfortunately, there is no way to determine whether a service would create spammy backlinks. When it comes to link building, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

What Should You Do Instead of Link Farming?


Link farming may appear to be a quick way to achieve SEO success, but it does not pay off in the long run.

The only way to achieve long-term success is to manage your website ethically and make the proper optimization decisions from the outset.

Here are some tips to get you started!

a. Check your link selections carefully

When picking outbound links for your content, make sure the site you’re connecting to is reliable. Choose websites and information in your niche. Make sure they are relevant, trustworthy, and well-ranked. Remember that an outbound link represents a recommendation from you to your readers. Choose wisely.

b. Know the difference between directories and link farms

At first sight, a link farm and a directory may appear to be identical. However, they are vastly different. Directories are organized and well-curated, whereas link farms are unorganized.

Directories also exist to help information seekers find what they’re looking for. In contrast, link farms do not give any meaningful service to their visitors.

Focus on acquiring organic links


Although there is nothing wrong with seeking or trading links with trustworthy peers in your industry, there is no replacement for 100% organic backlinks. The easiest method to achieve those is to focus on creating a cache of well-written, useful content that adds true value to your website’s users.

Investigate a range of topics connected to your area, as well as other types of media. Approach your audience’s queries from distinct perspectives. 

Why is link farming not effective for link building?

While participation in a link farm may result in a high number of backlinks, the sites themselves are not useful for gaining backlinks owing to their spammy character.

They can also result in your site receiving penalties for attempting to manipulate a search engine, which means it will not rank well or will slide down the rankings as a result of this attempt to improve DA through links from irrelevant or spam websites.

Google’s Penguin update was designed to make sure that backlinks were high quality. This upgrade penalized people who used link farms, leading their Google rankings to decline. This meant that SEOs had to start rebuilding their link profiles, removing poor backlinks, and seeking high-quality links to recover their ranking.


Link farms are a major challenge to ethical and successful SEO. While link farms may temporarily modify search rankings, they ultimately harm websites due to high risks and limited rewards.

It is not the most effective way to get links to your website. Instead, your site will obtain low-quality links, which will result in low-quality traffic.

There is also the possibility of being penalized by search engines such as Google for participating in link farms. This poor link-building strategy will result in a decline in rankings, so instead focus on creating high-quality content that gets linked to because you are the voice of authority in your field.


1. What is a link farm?

A link farm is a network of low-quality websites created solely to link to each other and manipulate search engine rankings through artificial links.

2. Can link farms boost my site’s rankings?

 Link farms offer temporary ranking advancements. Google regularly upgrades its algorithms to remove link farm networks. Don’t rely on them for long-term SEO.

3. Is link farming legal?

While it is not illegal to break any laws, link farming violates the rules set by search engines such as Google. Engaging in such activities may result in penalties, such as decreased site ranking or even full removal from the search engine index.

4. How do link farms harm SEO in the long run?

They spend valuable time that may be spent building your content and user experience. Over-optimization also limits organic growth and traffic.

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