For years, digital marketers focusing on SEO have relied on a few simple facts. Among the most reliable was the notion that link building, the process of getting other websites to link to yours, has a significant impact on your website’s performance in Google results. But a couple of weeks ago, that presumed truth received a significant challenge, by no other than Google itself.
It happened during a recent Google+ hangout, when Google’s John Mueller was asked a presumably easy question: is link building good? His answer was nothing short of surprising.
In general, I’d try to avoid that.
He went even further when elaborating on that statement.
We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps
What does that mean for search engine optimization? Does link building still matter, and should it even be avoided?
The short answer is yes, and of course not. Mueller’s answer sent shockwaves through the SEO marketing landscape, with prominent sites like SearchEngineLand.com suggesting that marketers should avoid link building. We posit, however, that this reaction misunderstands what Mueller was trying to say.
Of course link building still matters. Mueller admits that Google (and Bing, for that matter) still use the number of links to a site in how to determine relevance and credibility of that site. What he is suggesting, instead, is to not engage in link building simply for the sake of manipulating the algorithm.
That much becomes clear if we dive into his answer a bit more. For example, notice that he specifically emphasizes the harmful potential of link building if it’s the only strategy used to improve your optimization. He also states that marketers should make
really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it.
In other words, link building should be accomplished through building relevant content rather than other means that seek to simply gain as many backlinks, as quickly as possible. In essence, he is suggesting an inbound marketing approach: if the content you offer your audience is relevant enough, they will come to your site, and they will share that content by sending the link to their online connections. Link building should not be done via a “push” strategy, sending links out over and over again or even purchasing links simply for the sake of being ranked higher. Rather, it should consist of building relevant content and making that content easy to share.
In other words, link building is only harmful if done the wrong way. When done right, it remains an effective method to optimize your website and improve your Google results. Contact us for more information on how you can do link building correctly!