Some people claim that link building is no longer worth the time and the effort. But those people have most likely failed in basic optimization and they lack the skills and the tools necessary to adapt to the changing and evolving rules.
The fact is that white hat link building is a difficult process to understand and perform. But it’s also very rewarding if you do it well. Click here to learn more about its history and development.
Most people prefer to focus on on-site SEO since it’s easier. However, neglecting links is a mistake and there’s much to explore and learn in this area. Google even confirmed that links are important. And in all truth, why wouldn’t they be?
They are similar to the real-world word of mouth and they can make or break your reputation. Alongside providing quality content, this is a crucial part of your SEO strategy. One of Google’s updates, Penguin, changed the strategy and use of backlinks forever.
Before this update to the algorithm, you could simply pay for your ranking position by buying and selling links, adding more and more. A bit of this, a bit of that and you could be the first one to rank without even investing proper time or thinking things through. Google took notice of this problem and that’s how Penguin was born. It’s a spam filter of sorts and it works in real time, meaning there’s no way around it.
Links don’t come without their risks either.
But the origin of this is simple. A link is what takes you from the referring page to the final page and it has always been like this, even before SEO became this strict and relevant. Today, link building takes a professional hand, as this The Ultimate SEO Link Building Guide says. You can’t spend time on links that can only hurt you in hindsight. This is why it’s possible to simulate the effect that the link would have on you before you even build it.
It’s also important to remember that outbound links and backlinks are not the same. An outbound link is a link that points from your website, to another site while a backlink is a link that points from another site to your site. Backlinks are used to determine your authority and popularity by crawlers.
They are important for many reasons – from Google being able to find your website, to the ability of your audience to find you and so on.
Even Google confirmed that the most important factors of your ranking are content and links that point to your site. In some cases, it has proven impossible to rank without backlinks.
And the fact is that quantity doesn’t beat quality here either. You have to vet every link properly, check how risky they are and so on. A few targeted, high-quality links are far better than thousands of weak ones. And those from untrustworthy websites can lead to penalties and loss of traffic.
A link could be bad because of the industry, if it’s completely unrelated to yours, the country and the language if it doesn’t make sense for your website and of course, the keywords. But rules are not set in stone and different things work for different websites.
One of the most important factors is to build links in a way that your business and your customers will find useful and relevant. Associate yourself with great content and with useful resources. That’s the most basic concept.
The links should be natural and not manipulative. If you try something weird in Google’s eyes, you can end up with a penalty. This can include link schemes, guideline violations or any similar behaviors.
Link exchange is not a good idea either, unless the links make sense and they stay on topic in the eyes of a user. If the anchor text is too optimized, this could be a bad thing to, especially in guest posts. Of course, it doesn’t have to be bad as long as linking is natural and not stuffed with keywords.
Adding your site to a directory is not a good idea either. If you do add your pages to a directory, make sure that it’s relevant and provides help for users.
If you think that commenting and posting on forums or on blogs could be the answer, you may be in for a surprise. Unhelpful answers and posts can harm your ranking. Especially so if it’s evident that the comment is posted only for the link.
However, with a bit more effort in terms of participating in discussions and staying on point of your business, these links could be useful.
Buying links is a huge no-no. It’s unethical in Google’s eyes. It could be a waste of money and if the quality of links is bad, then your ranking will suffer. Instead of wasting resources on that, it’s best to invest in creating valuable content that can be linked to. It requires patience, that’s true, but it’s worth in the long run.
Even if you stopped buying links but you still have a few old ones out there, this could harm your ranking.
What to do instead?
Here are some useful practices for building high-quality links for your website:
- Ask for it – If you’re a beginner, this is a good place to start. Think about people in your community that have a website of their own. Can any of them link to your site? Ask for links in the content and make sure that the website where the link will be is relevant to your industry.
- Relationships – Instead of buying links, try the warmer approach of getting to know someone, gaining their trust and attention and finally, the backlink that you want. You can start with forums and blogs, social media and so on. Add interesting comments and answers. This will give you the credibility that you want and need.
- Testimonials – Another fun way to get a backlink is to give a testimonial. Many businesses love getting testimonials from people who used their services, and this gives you an opportunity to shine. And both parties get something great.