Following the Penguin 2.1 update earlier this year and Google’s many claims, you might think link building as a technique is fairly redundant and isn’t worth your time and effort these days –but guess what? That’s just not the case.
While Google might claim they don’t put as much emphasis on a site’s backlinks when it comes to ranking factors these days, evidence from all over the globe suggests otherwise – so it might not be the time to hang up your link building boots just yet!
Yes, the emphasis on your site’s backlink profile might have shifted from quality to quantity – but that doesn’t mean building backlinks is any less important or essential if you want your site to feature highly in the SERPs.
That said, the rules for effective link building have changed significantly over the last 18 months or so thanks to numerous Penguin updates – so it’s time to bring you up to speed on what you should and shouldn’t be doing as part of your link building strategy.
- Relevance Is Key: Google have said it before and they’ll say it again – they want your links to be (and look!) natural – and the only way you’re going to be able to build ‘natural’ links is to try and get links from relevant sites within your niche. Ask yourself if a link from site A would actually make sense to Google and the site’s visitors – and go from there. If the answer’s ‘no’, at some point Google’s going to realise it’s a link you’ve probably manually built – so beware!
- Invest In Relationships: In the past, link building used to be a bit “wham, bam, thank you mam” – it’d be a one-off conversation/negotiation and a resulting backlink – but these days that doesn’t really work. In 2013, it’s all about investing time and effort into building relationships with other key sites within your niche. Yes, it might take longer but it’s worth it in the end if you can secure a number of links which are more relevant and natural in nature.
- Up Your Game: There’s no denying link building’s got a whole lot harder since Penguin was released, with everyone now fighting for those illusive relevant, authority links – so it’s time to up your game. Think about it – authority sites now have their pick of sites to link to – so it’s up to you to convince them to link to you – i.e., you don’t want to give sites a reason not to link to you. Invest in high quality, original content and build innovative, useful features into your website that will make you stand out from the crowd.
- Think Long-Term: When it comes to great link building, it’s definitely worth thinking about the future rather than just the ‘here and now’. What I mean by that is think about how valuable that link might be in the future, rather than just how valuable it is now. Look out for new up and coming sites that might like to link to your site – and try and get in touch and with them and involved before they become too established. Yes, they might not have that much authority now – but they might one day, so dismiss them at your own risk! Remember, just like SEO in general, link building is a marathon, not a sprint!
- Don’t Cut Corners: To put it bluntly, link building can be boring and incredibly time-consuming so it’s no wonder people give in and cut corners – but you need to try and resist the temptation. By this I mean you need to try and resist the urge to go for the lower hanging fruits eg. low quality, non-relevant sites, in a bid to increase your backlink numbers. Instead invest time and energy into building quality, relevant links that will not only act as powerful backlink but will also drive relevant, targeted traffic to your site too.
Similarly, it can be tempting to buy your way to a good link backlink – but do it at your own risk! Google’s given lots of warnings about how it hates this practice in the past, and with its algorithms getting significantly more advanced with every update, I’d say this practice is becoming more risky by the day – so beware!
Of course, link building is an incredibly complicated business which has lots of caveats and rules – so it’s fair to say the previous points offer just a small insight into the industry. That said, they should give you something to consider when it comes to formulating your link building and overall SEO strategy in 2014.