Link Building. The phrase that strikes the most fear into SEOs across the world. Link Building has always been a widely talked about topic for many reasons, mainly due to arguments about whether or not it is as important for SEO as people think.
So, today, we’re going to make a controversial statement…. Link Building is not all that important.
The History Of Link Building
Now, don’t get us wrong, link building did have its heyday. At one point, the website with the most links would rank the highest in search engines but as you can imagine, this caused a lot of problems for both Google and its users.
You could rank for a completely irrelevant term simply by purchasing thousands of links from a link farm. Great…if you’re an SEO or webmaster. But what about the users? Imagine your frustration when you search for ‘How To Improve Your SEO’ and the website you click on is simply a montage of pets doing funny things. Cute, but this isn’t going to help you become an SEO whizz!
Google soon realised that this was causing a huge issue that may lead to a big loss in its market share. So, along came Penguin.
Penguin was one of Google’s biggest algorithm updates that launched in 2012. The aim of Penguin was to help identify link spam and manipulative link building practices. This update was the beginning of the end for PBN’s, link farms and general black hat SEO techniques.
It brought around a radical rethink of strategies for SEOs all across the world in which we had to start focusing on the users.
To Link Or Not To Link?
That is the question. One which caused even more widespread fear. In a complete reversal of the industry, webmasters started to become afraid of both building links and linking out to other websites, in fear of gaining themselves a manual penalty from Google.
Suddenly, links became a taboo topic to ask other webmasters for. Now, before you start to think we’re completely against link building as an SEO tactic, we do strongly believe that links do play a part in ranking your website.
For example, if you’re looking to really excel at local SEO, you undoubtedly need links but it’s the type of links you get that really make the difference.
A common saying that almost all SEOs will say at some point or another is ‘it’s about the quality, not the quantity when it comes to content’. So why does it seem so hard to take this same approach to link building?
You have to be incredibly careful where you build links for your website, based upon the topic of the page you’re linking to and the overarching services/offerings of your website.
Having a link from Val’s Cafe pointing to your healthcare website is not going to be viewed as relevant by search engines, but it will be viewed as spammy. People will be asking; where is the relevance?
But My Competitors Have More Links And Higher Rankings
This is a very common thing for SEOs to hear, competitors have higher rankings and more links, so, therefore, it must be the links that make them rank better.
Unfortunately, this is a misconception that is all too common. The main reason that this ‘looks’ to be the case is due to the actions the competitors took in the past. These competitors may have been running before the Penguin update was released and therefore, amassed a huge amount of links to help boost their rankings.
This doesn’t mean it’s the reason they’re still ranking so high, though. Maybe they never got round to disavowing most of the links they built? Maybe they upped their SEO game from a technical and on-page standpoint?
The other factor to bear in mind is that every single tool available to check links to a website will give different results. All tools have different ways of being able to identify links and report on them. So realistically, how can you ever be 100% certain how many links any one website has?
Google Webmasters have recently launched their new SEO Mythbusters series and the first episode that aired has made a huge impact in the world of SEO.
It’s a well-known fact that Google holds its cards very close to their chest when it comes to ranking factors. After all, if they made it public knowledge, anyone could have a go at creating a new search engine, right?
Which is why it came as a shock when Martin Splitt (Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google) answered the question ‘What are the top 3 things I should do to make my website discoverable?’.
Instead of beating around the bush and not giving a direct answer to the question, he actually gave 3 things he would recommend. What was the most shocking part of all?
He didn’t say link building.
Now, this didn’t come as much of a shock to us but to a lot of SEOs, it probably made them stop and think.
The 3 factors he mentioned were content, metadata and performance. Now, we’re not going to go into too much detail about these in this post, but it came as a big relief to us to hear that our thoughts were correct.
The Future Of Link Building
We’re aware that this doesn’t mean link building isn’t number 4 on the list, it very well could be. What it does signify to us, however, is that many SEOs still have a fairly old school view on which tactics are needed to get websites ranking well.
We’ve actually learnt from our own experience that we can rank websites in number 1, for highly competitive terms, without having to stop and worry about link building – we even did it with our own website in one of the most competitive industries when it comes to rankings!
What does this mean for the future of link building? Well, to us, it means that people have to take a new view on link building within SEO. As we said above, link building still has its own role and functions within SEO but it can no longer take pride and place at the top of the pile.
In order to get websites ranking higher, we have to think about the user, not the search engine. One of the most overlooked things in SEO is the fact that search engines care more about the users who search on it than the websites it displays. Without the users, there’s no business.
What are your thoughts on link building within the current SEO landscape? Do you think it’s the most important tactic or do you think it’s starting to take a back seat?
If you’ve tried tirelessly to get your website ranking higher but had no luck, fill in our form to get a free quote right now and see how we can take you to that coveted number 1 spot!