Is Link Building Dead?

This question has been asked many time on the internet.  John Mueller from Google has provided the following answer:

“In general, I’d try to avoid that.

So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.

We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.”

So what does this means?  Basically this means Google only your website to obtain backlink naturally.  Huh!!??  Natural backlinks are backlinks from other websites linking to yours where they are not paid in any form either in dollar or reciprocate links, etc.

Below are some examples of link building where Google considers spammy:

  • Link Directories – 99% of the link directories online will be considered spammy by Google.
  • Anchor Text Links – This include those “Website developed by” link.
  • Guest Blog Post – This was consider one of the remaining link building method which was allowed.  Writing a nice article with some good content and link by to your website by stealth.  Google now has upgraded their algorithm to discourage this.  I say there will be instances where this may still work.  If you can find a website with good authority, and it is in the same niche as yours, it should still work.  However, putting a guest post on a website which is not relevant to yours will most likely get penalised by Google.
  • Press Releases – The value and impact of press releases has dramatically been reduced.  Just like guest blog posts, it will depends how much authority the website has, how relevant the website to yours.
  • Link Networks – Stay away from this.  It will cost you thousands later to try to get your links removed if you can get all them all removed.
  • Paid Links – Google hates this and will try their best to detect paid links.  They don’t want to share their revenue with other webmasters.  Paid links should only be on Google and no where else!

OK, that sounds like it’s impossible to build backlinks then?  Yes, that is how Google wants it.  In my opinion there are two reasons they do this:

  1. They want all backlinks to be natural, meaning you must have some awesome contents which another webmaster will go through the trouble to link back to you and give you the credit.  An example of this will be if you have created some excellent online tool and others find it useful and link it back to you.

Google is trying to push website owners to use Adwords (PPC) instead of spending their time and money building backlinks.  Before the Penguin update 99.99% SEO companies relied on link building.  One of the main measurable KPI was backlinks.  You used to pay a company to build your backlink portfolio and can be confident with enough backlinks your SEO will improve.  Now, you will pay an SEO company to remove these links they have built for you from the past.  In say this, do you notice even if you get #1 for a keyword in Google, your link may still not be viewable without the user scrolling down the page?  The top 3 ads together already covers 50% of the page, and if Google decides to display location, even if your ads is #1 it may still not be viewed without scrolling down the page.

 

Ok, “so what should my link strategy be?” you may ask.  The answer link building strategy should be around building useful contents which others will want to pass on to their colleague, friends and family.

Below are some of the areas to focus on:

  • Product / Case Studies – Do a thorough research of your products and services and compile all the information anyone will ever be searching for.  What is the Pros, the Cons, the value for money, durability, social coolness, etc.  Most online consumers will spend some time doing online research before committing to a purchase.  Beside the chances of building natural backlinks, these are the type of contents Google wants.
  • Make use of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other Social Medias – People love social media and love to see pictures of beautiful things.  Try to create beautiful pictures of your products, and users will naturally link to them.  Mobile usage is increasing by the day, and mobile users prefer to see images over reading actual texts.
  • Forum posts – engage in forums related to your products.  DO NOT SPAM the forum.  Be nice and try to help other out at the same time showcase the expertise you have on your product.  Again, do not spam the forum.  Once you build up trust, other users will link to your website.  Even if they don’t, you may get some new customers this way.
  • Sales – Everyone loves a sale, and it is very likely people will pass on the link to the sale product if the discount is genuine.  Google also loves social media links.
  • Create a cool online tool where others can use for free.  You may even create some fun and/or silly online survey where users can pass it around to their family and circle of friends.
  • Ego Bait – Let’s face it, most people love themselves.  Create an article about a certain individual and contact them to see if they will link back to you.  You will be surprised how often this works.

Link Building with Social Media

 

As you can see, link building really involves a lot of hard work.  Do not get fooled by someone promising you “Quality” backlinks.  By definition, if someone can get you a lot of backlinks quickly, they will 100% of them time considered to be bad by Google no matter what PR they have.  Backlinks should be obtained naturally through quality contents, and there is no guarantee you will get any even if you do spend the time to product the quality contents.

Link building has actually turn into a risky SEO strategy because you need to make sure the company you have hired will do it the right way.  Make sure you like a lot of questions of the link building strategy from the company you intend to hire for SEO.  Do not trust those who promise to help your website build links without creating any contents for your website.