Link Building - Then and Now

Link building has of course been around now for a very long time. This exact name for the practice hadn’t yet been coined in the early stages, but the initial concept was there. And ever since that moment, links were being scattered all across the net.

Link building has of course been around now for a very long time. This exact name for the practice hadn’t yet been coined in the early stages, but the initial concept was there. And ever since that moment, links were being scattered all across the net.

I use the word scattered intentionally (and lightly). Back then, link building was often as simple as dropping by a forum and leaving a comment (ka-ching – first link of the day!), posting an article on an article directory site (ka-ching – second link of the day!) and posting a link on a web directory (ka-ching – third link of the day!). And so on, ad nauseam. In simple terms – link building was a matter of quantity over quality.

And what do we all know about quantity? That’s right – it rarely beats quality!

Quality is important in all aspects of work and as us SEOs have come to fully understand – it’s especially critical in today’s ever changing world of search.

Had the SEO community known then what we know now, we perhaps could have all anticipated a shift in link building practices. All those links that are now considered spammy and can in some instances have detrimental impacts on a site – who’d really want to place them now?

Most of the time, if you’re presented with something that offers big rewards in return for very little effort, it’s probably too good to be true. Unfortunately, a lot of old-style link building was exactly that (even if it did work well at the beginning!)

So with more SEO years under our belt, what do we know about link building today?

In the age of manual actions and webmaster warnings due to X, Y and Z, it is understandable that the words ‘link building’ are often met with uncertainty. It can be a taboo subject after all, however one which still requires attention in 2015 (and beyond) – and for good reason!

Having links pointing to your site is still a fundamental aspect of any SEO campaign; Google (and other search engines) still treat links as votes for popularity and trust. Links play an important role in sending search engines the right signals – along with other vital signs such as site speed, usability and responsiveness.

In 2015, considered SEO is the only way forward and there are a number of ways to build links that adhere to search engines guidelines, for example, fixing broken links (links that point to your site but have disintegrated over time e.g. the page has since been removed), monitoring natural brand mentions and building links from these opportunities as well as creating SEO led content to help acquire good quality, naturalised links over time that provide lasting value.

Whilst link building should still very much be a part of any effective SEO campaign in 2015 – link monitoring should also now be at the core. It is of critical importance that a site’s link profile is actively and continuously monitored. Keeping tabs on incoming links and making sure that the appropriate next steps are taken minimises the risk of toxicity to the site and ultimately reduces any subsequent threat of experiencing a drop in rankings or worse, being issued with a manual action. The standard protocol should be to actively seek the removal of spammy or dangerous links and disavow the remaining dangerous links if and when they are unable to be removed in the first instance.

So whilst link building practices have drastically shifted over the years (and I anticipate will continue to shift through time), it should still play an important role in today’s SEO activities – coupled with ongoing link profile management.

Though let us not forget that in order to successfully (and organically) acquire links – a website must first be link-worthy. Creating high quality and fresh content is therefore essential! In 2015, no one is going to want to link to a page with little or no content on it. After all, what value would that bring to their readers?

Number one is never guaranteed but with an effective SEO campaign, keeping your site’s search engine rankings stable and improving them in some instances is entirely possible. Link building is only one piece of the puzzle however – there is an entire encyclopaedia of SEO best practices that should be followed in order to ultimately drive more traffic to the site and increase conversions.

Stay tuned to find out more...

These are the views of Emily McLaren, one of our SEO Consultants.

Image via bloeise