Few SEO topics cause the fear and anxiety that link building does.
Once upon a time, all a site needed was a lot of inbound links from other domains – the more links, the better. Then Google and other search engines got wise to sneaky search engine optimizers who were gaming the system and hampering search engine user experience. Sites with a massive quantity of links with no regard to the quality of the sites they linked to got a big, disheartening surprise in 2012 when Google rolled out the Penguin Algorithm to penalize sites that played fast and loose with their link building strategies.
Then in 2014, the next link-building drama unfolded around guest blogging. Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s web spam team, gave content creators a warning on his personal blog, “Okay, I’m calling it: If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice…” Then in March of the same year, Google dropped this bomb on publishers participating on a guest blog network site.
Fast forward to today, and the idea of building links still strikes fear into the heart of some digital marketers. Even when a blogger shares a link in his or her post, a site owner may ask for the removal of the link if the blog’s domain authority is low. However, it’s time for SEO pros and marketers to take a deep breath and get back into the link building game — but responsibly, of course.
Expert advice on link building
Rob Mead is head of marketing for Gnatta, a software platform that uses automated and AI features to bring customers, operators and systems together. Here’s what he told ClearVoice on the topic of link building.
Don’t listen to those who say links are dead. At the end of the day, just think: How do you get from the SERPs to a website? By clicking a link, Google still doesn’t have an alternative way of managing its index beyond the power of links. Authentic, white-hat link authority work should still be a key part of your strategy. Whether you do it via digital PR, traditional outreach, or any other method; relevant, genuine links are still key to improving your standing with Google.
But what about the ever-changing complexities of Google’s algorithm, the pervasiveness of RankBrain and emerging voice-search technologies?
As for what the future holds, Mead sums it all up with a morsel that’s as relevant now as ever before:
Google’s algorithm may be getting ever more complex, and with the increased pervasiveness of RankBrain, new voice search challenges, and more, it might seem tempting to forget the basics and chase new theories. These could all deliver value for your business, but don’t forget to keep your house in order. So long as you’re delivering relevant content, on a quick site, which people engage with, you’re on the right track.
2018 will deliver a host of new SEO challenges and opportunities, but as with every year before it, there will be no cheat wins. Get your fundamentals right, smash the basics, and you’ll continue to see search success.
Things to think about with your link-building strategy
Search engines no longer reward spammy link building or over-optimized anchor text, but they do still recognize and reward relevant links. If you stick to these tips, you will put your efforts on the right track. Here are a few other things you can do:
- Familiarize yourself with Google’s quality guidelines as outlined in its Link schemes.
- Consider your audience’s interests and buyer’s journey when you build links and guest posts. Is your content relevant to the site where you want to place a link? If not, then don’t build that link or write that guest post. Google has gotten very smart in understanding relevance.
- Create content that influencers, advocates, and customers will want to share and link to on their own sites. This takes time, research, preparation, resources, and budget. Don’t skimp on your content creation.
Are you crafting your content to keep up with search behaviors?
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