Is link building still a valuable tactic in 2014? Well I happen to believe it is and it’s a powerful one, too.
It’s not all about creating millions of links anymore, the days when the site with the most links wins the search engine war are over and now it’s about quality and whether people are willing to share those links and that information. The more information you put out there, the more chance you’ve got of someone seeing it and potentially sharing it. That’s where your links come from.
It used to be that we could hire people to build the links for us, but that’s really a dangerous game now because Google is stamping down on people “buying links” and the definition of what that means is getting broader all the time.
When you bought a link in the past it meant you would get in touch with a site owner and ask them for a specific link off a specific page on a site which would then be pointed to your website. The link would have your keyword in the anchor text and it was easy to see why this was a “bad thing” – you’d not “earned” the link, you’d bought it.
Google said that this practice had to stop.
However, people then started paying for the opportunity to post articles on blog and this, for a while, looked like the way to go. After all, you were adding to the knowledge of the web and the fact that you were paying shouldn’t matter, should it? Blog owners got greedy and the quality of the content dropped and before you know it, spammers moved in. Blog networks grew and their influence grew with them.
It was suddenly possible to have thousands of links from a blog network simply by paying a certain amount of money to a company and your rankings would increase. It was easy and if it’s easy, it’s spammable and if it’s spammable, it got spammed. Google stopped it. Not only that, Google started slapping manual penalties on companies that used these networks.
So guest blogging took off. This essentially means you find a website that allows people to write for them and you write articles. These articles can include a link back to your site. This was the acceptable face of link building for a very long time and then, you guessed it, the spammers took over and guest blogging became full of spun content. Site owners would let anyone post anything to the point where the content became devalued.
Google said “enough is enough” and earlier this year Matt Cutts said that the value of the links would go down. He actually said “you may as well stop doing it” – but is that the real truth of the matter?
The thing is, guest blogging is still and should remain a very powerful way of building links, assuming the blog site owners sort their game out and fix what’s gone wrong. They need to be better at vetting the content people post and stop letting any old rubbish past their filters. Content is king and if you have good content then people will flock to read it, but if your content is merely filler that’s used to make your blog look busy then you’re doing nobody any favours.
Link building still works, but it’s harder than ever now because your articles need to be good quality, informative and valuable to those reading them.