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Link Building, is it dead for SEO?

Link building may or may not be dead, depending on which SEO “expert” you talk to. Link building used to be dominated by black-hat techniques like paid link systems, link farms, hidden web links as well as spammy web content. A few SEOs suggest that any type of positive web link building is a waste of time at best and a planned offense at worst. While others claim it needs to be a valuable, reputable part of any type of SEO method. So, who is correct according to Google?

Ever since the Penguin algorithm updates were launched in 2012 to punish those black hat spam tactics, Google started looking at quality content and white hat SEO as a legitimate way to build backlinks for a domain.

Why You Should Never Buy Backlinks

A common SEO recommendation is to create high-quality content for individuals rather than for search engines, as this may make it more likely that other sites will want to link to yours. You NEVER pay to have backlinks built on another site just because it may produce a certain value for SEO, as this can destroy most, if not all, of your web traffic if Google finds out (which they will). There are websites out there that claim to “effectively” use these strategies, but in the long run, they run a high risk of Google devaluing their links.

Is it really feasible to think Joe Schmoe building a link network with this small set of 50 domains is going to out maneuver a multi-billion dollar organization with a resource pool the size of Google? No. To think so would be delusional, but many webmasters hold to this belief even to this day. Many still build link wheels & try to find “clever” ways of hiding backlinks so that it takes longer for them to be found, but eventually they are found, and their clients’ domains are the ones who are burned and destroyed because of it. The entire process of buying links has scumbag written all over it, with webmasters who implement these techniques just trying to make a quick buck off of manipulating the algorithms, regardless of whether or not the business survives at the end of the day and how many jobs are lost by their victim companies.

Spam produced by web link building techniques along with the post-PageRank rise of scorecards (IE: Trust Flow and Citation Flow) has created confusion between what is effective and what is not effective, but the bottom line is that nearly every black-hat technique used to take advantage of this system is eventually discovered, fixed, and those are who found to be using it, either wittingly or unknowingly, are penalized heavily for their attempts at manipulating Google’s search rankings.

For the survival of your business, you cannot allow yourself to be pulled into the marketing scam that offers “quick gains” through buying links. Nearly nothing in legitimate SEO is instant, other Google bringing the hammer down on those who attempt to bypass their algorithms for a quick boost.

If your team doesn’t have a budget or staff for SEO, then you should at the very least spend time in producing high-quality content, instead of building inbound links that are either junk or low-quality. Focus on investing in your website for a superior user experience (UX) and what the user’s intent is on the page from search. The top priority should be to offer the most effective web page result in Google search. Your web page should be so good, it should strive to be the “Authority” in your respective area. Terminate building links and begin gaining them through natural linking from high-quality content.

Organic Search Exposure Through Grey Hat Backlinks

Numerous SEOs and digital marketers use “grey hat” techniques to build website backlinks in order to separate themselves from other competing sites in high-competition niches.

Without breaking Google’s guidelines, a webmaster or SEO can reach out to the same websites that are giving backlinks to competitors to see if they are willing to link to your site as well. In some cases, a few of these backlinks are easy to attain and certainly wouldn’t hurt the website if they have enough trust & citation flow, as measured by a service such as Majestic.

Improving Rankings Through White Hat Backlink Building

The other tactic is building links through high-quality content. If a user likes the content on your website, then they would technically link back to you and share it with others on social media, forums, chat platforms, websites, etc. However, this may not be enough if your competitor is also doing this as well.  If you are going to build a lot of content on your website, then you should also invest in promoting your content as well.

In the end, building website backlinks is a difficult skill and is a big investment of time and money, but it can provide huge benefit to your website & business when done properly.

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Ty Carson
Owner at CaliNetworks
Ty Carson, Owner of CaliNetworks. Ty has over 20+ years of experience in the digital marketing industry. Leading and executing proven digital strategies and delivering positive results for large corporations to small businesses. Tracking Search Engines since 2003, and engaged in digital marketing / online marketing, IT and web development since 1999.