If you’re dealing with SEO, chances are you’ve encountered ‘those people’ that proclaim that link building is dead, and have chosen to focus their efforts elsewhere.
They’re ‘content marketers’ now, crafting that perfect article to entice social sharing and..gasp.. linking!?
Link building is meaningful, it’s incredibly valuable, and yes, it still works.
In fact, building links and authority is smart marketing.
As long as webpages exist and information isn’t simply assimilated through some sort of robotic interface connected to our brain, link building is going to be around awhile.
Sure, the link building landscape has shifted and changed a lot over the years, including types of valued links and how they should be built.
But while certain types of links have lost value and structured link schemes can potentially destroy your site, it’s important to remember that there are quality links that remain and still have incredible value for increasing your search engine rankings.
Why Link Building Matters
We’re now at a point where Google has finally created a method that prevents bad links from being valued within their algorithm.
The SEOs that we’re relying strictly (or mostly) on sketchy links and/or backlink structures and have been penalized, those are the ones that have declared link building dead.
From a quality standpoint, Google has simply eliminated the worst links that provided no user value. This is actually the opposite of killing off link building, it’s focusing on making good link building more valuable.
After all, if a link is easy to get, it’s probably garbage.
Good link building has always been hard! So keep that in mind.
Anatomy of a Quality Link
Before you begin building links, you need to ask the question, “What is a quality link?”
If you can do that, you can create a method and system to build quality links. Take a second to think about what a quality link is from a user perspective. Its:
- On a website within the same or very similar niche
- On a page with content that’s relevant to the content it’s being linked to
- Adds value for the reader
- Has a high likelihood of being clicked on
- The link text should vary in comparison to other links going to that page (brand names being an exception)
It all comes back to what the visitors want to experience: relevancy.
If the link and your content aren’t relevant, there’s no way search engines want to pass value to your link. Stick with relevant, on point links and plan for what happens beyond a click.
This is a perfect way to not only build a relevant link profile, but relevant, targeted traffic back to your site.
Isn’t that the whole point of SEO?
Future-Proofing Your Link Building
With Google’s algorithm constantly advancing, you have to consider potential ‘upgrades’ that make take place in the future.
A big one is link tracking.
If Google began analyzing analytical data of users clicking links, do you think they would pass value to a link that doesn’t get clicked? Probably not.
In fact, they would likely decrease the link value based on visitor interaction and user segments (a topic for later).
So if you’re link building knowing your link isn’t going to be clicked, you’re not building a sustainable framework.
Eventually, you can bet that Google will be analyzing link click-through-rates and feeding that into their algorithm, then all your hard work from 2014 on could be irrelevant. Don’t take shortcuts!
Yes, Social Links Matter
Backlinks are an important part of Google’s algorithm and always will be, it’s how the web is structured and mapped.
The question to ask is about relevance, and how other signals will be weighted in the future.
You’ve probably heard a bunch about social signals and shares, they’re pretty buzzy right now. The socialization of content is certainly significant, and it most certainly impacts search engine rankings.
The weight of social signals may or may not yet be as heavy as backlinks, but they remain an important part of a SEO strategy. The social sharing most definitely compliments a link building strategy.
And, surprise, it ain’t easy!
Relationship building and creating engagement can take time, which is directly related to social media strategy. Remember that engagement goes both ways, a quick link isn’t the right approach here either.
Look for relevant relationships that have the potential to grow.
The Relationship Circle
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a link on a popular blog, engagement on Twitter, or working with inbound marketing to draw in relevant visitors from other sources.
What it all comes back to is creating content and building relationships that add value.