Linkbuilding Confusion Cleared Up (Sort Of)

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by Sarah Warlick, content director

Lots of linksAre you unable to figure out if linkbuilding is positive or negative after reading conflicting advice? If so, you’re in good company. There has been a steady stream of new information and misinformation clogging up the pipelines for years now, ever since Google’s Penguin algorithm update was first released. So what is a responsible website owner to make of it all?

First, let’s recap the situation. In the old days, people were told that having multiple links to your content helped your search ranking. That led to a mad rush for links, including those of questionable quality, and the emergence of “link farms” and “link schemes” created by shady SEO companies. Later, Google began to focus on the quality of links and penalize sites that utilized low-quality links and participated in link schemes. This suddenly knocked out a lot of junk sites from search results as well as doing major damage to many perfectly legitimate sites that had hired professional help for SEO that turned out to be not so legitimate.

That’s when site owners began to hear horror stories of death by Penguin and panic over the whispered news that links were now bad. “Quick, get rid of all links as they are a liability!” was the perceived message, even though that’s not what Google had said or intended.

Now John Mueller of Google has given yet more support for the idea that link building isn’t inherently a problem, but your focus should always be on creating quality content that will earn links naturally rather than collecting links for their own sake. During a recent Google+ hangout John was asked, “Is link building in any way good?” His response:

“In general, I’d try to avoid that.

“So that you are 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. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.

“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 tha[n i]t actually helps.”

To hear the whole discussion, you can watch the video below that was shared on Search Engine Roundtable. The question appears at 55:40.

The real message seems to be that, as Google and bbr marketing have consistently maintained, the key to success with both content marketing and SEO is focusing on quality. Share information that is truly valuable: Useful, timely, accurate, well-written and interesting should be the goal for everything you send out for audiences to enjoy. If what you provide meets those standards you’ll gain links and increased exposure that Google and the other search engines recognize as legitimate, boosting your page rank and enhancing your reputation as a source of quality content.

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