Link-building has created quite a bit of controversy in the digital marketing world. While it is a strong way to improve your search ranking on Google, many people fear that the practice of link-building is now dead due to the overwhelming amount of disingenuous practices. However, proper link-building and Google’s ever-increasing intelligence means that links are still relevant and valuable if they’re organic.
The History of Link-Building – And Link-Building Spam
When link-building was first discovered as a way to quickly climb Google’s search ranks, things went a bit haywire. To Google’s search bots, more links to a site meant more popularity, and the rank was adjusted accordingly. So of course, businesses naturally wanted a way to gain more links and often ended up taking shortcuts. We all remember those “link farm” pages that would come up in Google results, where the site was just a huge list of spammy links. At this time, links were bought and sold in the millions without any form of punishment. Since then, and since the Penguin update to Google’s algorithm, this practice has been cracked down upon heavily. Google is now better able to recognize inorganic links, which led to the penalization of sites that feature them. This is what stemmed the belief that link-building was dead.
Link-Building Is Still Very Much Alive
Link-building is now more valuable than ever. The fact that Google is able to recognize genuine links means that a lot of competitive sites will be cut out of the race, which is great for sites that have real links. Genuine links are a little harder to build, but the end result is worth it. In fact, good link-building is now critical to a ranked website. A ranking study in 2014 found that backlinks have actually increased in importance to ranking, and are even more important than SEO keyword relevance. Google still values links, it just analyzes them more thoroughly than it used to. So while the number of links used to be the only factor to determine rank, both quantity and quality are now important. As with all forms of digital marketing, quality of content is quickly becoming the forerunner for rank. This is a great way to target your content to niche markets, but only if your content means something. So once your content is ready to go, how do you follow up by building high-quality links?
Consider the source: Where is your link being featured? Is the website credible and visited often? Avoid link farms and spammy pages like the plague. Only pursue sites that haven’t been penalized by Google in the past. Additionally, you want to be sure the site is relevant to your market. Linking your site to a market outside of your own will reduce the overall quality of your campaign.
Consider the numbers: Stay away from pages with large numbers of links. The fewer links there are on a page, the more valuable your own link becomes. Directory sites are completely useless in this day and age, so instead look for sites that will feature just a few links per page.
Link-building isn’t dead, it just demands higher quality, like all forms of digital marketing. If you aren’t interested in keeping up to date with the latest and greatest link-building techniques, contact Infront Webworks today to learn about our marketing packages.