When asking if Link building is dead, this tends to mainly relate to forms of link building so in that manner, certain forms of link building no longer become useful, as it tends to get overused, abused and pushed beyond Google’s ethical link building limits. So in that sense, that form of link building does die to a certain extent. In late 2013 early 2014, Google HummingBird targeted Guest Blogging and this once hot go to link building tactic is no longer as effective.
Looking for that quick link fix to the top is not always the best route. Designing a good/ethical link strategy for your company should be a top priority. For most people, your website is your business, and for many, their lifeline for work. So, careful consideration should always be taken. The links that your website is associated with affects your site, so the goal should always be quality sites related to your industry/field.
In its simplest form, links in one fashion or another help connect the web and users to each other, and helps us discover new and interesting websites. Just think about how you find and discover certain websites and pages. Many times it is via a link from some website (or shared), and at times, you accidentally discover a new and interesting site. More so now days, sharing links/pages via some share button helps us show which sites/pages that we like and what others to find out about. Not always will these links pass on any Link Juice, (PageRank), but that should not be the main reason/purpose of the link, connecting and getting your site found/noticed by your intended audience should be. Identify good quality sites that can provide traffic to your site and help you with sales/leads should be first while aiming to increase non-google traffic. Link sharing is much easier now, and you don’t need your webmaster to make the additions to your website, and the implementation of sharing links online is far easier than years ago.
Content is King (Mostly)
The slogan Content is King is an old one and a good one for good reason. Good quality content will naturally help attract people to your website/page and can also help with naturally gaining incoming links to your website. Naturally gaining links is one of Google’s favorite link building tactics and lets you know what articles/topics people like about your site. With naturally gaining links, the links were in no way bought or paid for in any manner, and the person choosing to post the link did so because they liked your website/article. This is one of the things that Google and other search engines link about this form of link building.
With the focus switching to Content Marketing (Content is King), is in itself a form of link building. Pushing out good quality content that people find interesting and want to share or link to. While Content is King is an old and tested tactic, certain f0rms of implementing this will not always be effective. Guest blogging and Article marketing are two good forms where it will not always work.
Article marketing is a type of advertising in which businesses write short articles about themselves, their company or their field of expertise as a marketing strategy. A primary style for the articles includes a bio box and byline about the business.
The problem with Article marketing is that the content and links tend to come from lower quality sources. Content at times can seem spammy and getting syndicated across the web. With recent Google algorithm updates, this tactic is less effective now than it was a few years ago.
Guest blogging is someone who posts an article on a blog that is not their own site/blog. Their motivation for this is to obtain back-links to increase their own website search engine rankings.
High Quality Guest blogging can still be worthwhile, as it is bringing high quality content and insight on a topic from well known and also unknown great writers. The problem is when taken to extremes, offering the same blog post multiple times or spinning the blog and the articles are of lower quality etc. (notice the similarity with Article marketing?). Quality content on quality sites will still be helpful.
A Press Release is a written or recorded communication aimed at members of the news media for the determination of announcing something presumably newsworthy.
Press Release sites are now less likely to provide benefits to a website/page rankings. Typically the main goal of a Press Release is for publicity, using it solely for ranking purposes will not always turn the desired results as it once did, especially with PR syndication. (Notice the similarity with Article Marketing and Guest Blogging yet again?). Links from PR sites should be set to nofollowed, and many of the top PR sites do abide by this. One thing you can do to help your PR posting is to optimize it for some targeted keywords. The goal is to get the PR noticed by as many people, so working in standard optimization procedures will help with obtaining this.
With any form of content and the site the content is hosted on, it depends on the quality of the content, and the quality of the website.
So, Link Building is not dead, forms of link building do get overused, and link sharing is easier for all non-tech savvy people, so sharing in that manner is easier, it’s just having a good product/service/article etc. that somewhat would want to link/share. The web needs links to help connect sites to each other, the fact that a link will always pass Link Juice/PageRank should be secondary. Would you pass up a link on CNN if it was NoFollowed and didn’t provide any ranking benefit? The manner in which search engines value links changes, and the tactics that are used to obtain these links comes into question at times as well.
Selected Google Algorithm Updates
Brandy — February 2004
Google rolled out a variety of changes, including a massive index expansion, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), increased attention to anchor text relevance, and the concept of link “neighborhoods.” LSI expanded Google’s ability to understand synonyms and took keyword analysis to the next level.
Nofollow — January 2005
To combat spam and control outbound link quality, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft collectively introduce the “nofollow” attribute. Nofollow helps clean up unvouched for links, including spammy blog comments. While not a traditional algorithm update, this change gradually has a significant impact on the link graph.
Allegra — February 2005
Webmasters witnessed ranking changes, but the specifics of the update were unclear. Some thought Allegra affected the “sandbox” while others believed that LSI had been tweaked. Additionally, some speculated that Google was beginning to penalize suspicious links.
Jagger — October 2005
Google released a series of updates, mainly targeting low-quality links, including reciprocal links, link farms, and paid links. Jagger rolled out in at least 3 stages, from roughly September to November of 2005, with the greatest impact occurring in October.
Negative Reviews — December 2010
After an expose in the New York Times about how e-commerce site DecorMyEyes was ranking based on negative reviews, Google made a rare move and re-actively adjusted the algorithm to target sites using similar tactics.
Social Signals — December 2010
Google and Bing confirmed that they are using social signals in determining ranking, including data from Twitter and Facebook. Matt Cutts confirmed that this was a relatively new development for Google, although many SEOs had long suspected it would happen.
Panda/Farmer — February 23, 2011
A major algorithm update hit sites hard, affecting up to 12% of search results (a number that came directly from Google). Panda seemed to crack down on thin content, content farms, sites with high ad-to-content ratios, and a number of other quality issues. Panda rolled out over at least a couple of months, hitting Europe in April 2011.
Ads Above The Fold — January 19, 2012
Google updated their page layout algorithms to devalue sites with too much ad-space above the “fold”. It was previously suspected that a similar factor was in play in Panda. The update had no official name, although it was referenced as “Top Heavy” by some SEOs.
Link Warnings — July 19, 2012
In a repeat of March/April, Google sent out a large number of unnatural link warnings via Google Webmaster Tools. In a complete turn-around, they then announced that these new warnings may not actually represent a serious problem.
“Phantom” — May 9, 2013
In the period around May 9th 2013, there were many reports of an algorithm update (also verified by high MozCast activity). The exact nature of this update was unknown, but many sites reported significant traffic loss.
- Link Source vs. Destination
- Cross-Linking (Network-like)
- Risky Link Profiles (historically as well as current)
“Payday Loan” Update — June 11, 2013
Google announced a targeted algorithm update to take on niches with notoriously spammy results, specifically mentioning payday loans and the adult industry. The update was announced on June 11th. Matt Cutts suggested it would roll out over a 1-2 month period.
Hummingbird guest posting
Matt Cutts personal recommendation is to not upload articles to article directories. Hear what he has to saw here https://twitter.com/mattcutts/status/428607043037958144
What are some effective techniques for building links?
I know the rules of link building is constantly changing, here are some effective techniques for link building as suggested by Matt Cutts in 2010.
In a nutshell, some of the link building techniques suggested by Matt Cutts are as follows:
- Join some community, answer questions… help others
- Original Research
- Newsletters social media, where do people spend their time
- 50 ways to build back-links, etc.
- Find something funny … etc.
- Make videos.
Anything worthwhile in link building, you generally have to work at it. Quality not quantity. If a link is easy to obtain, then it may be easy for your competition to copy. It will not always come easy and in the end, the payoff will be worth it. See Link Schemes for more information on links from Google.