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A Look at Why Links Remain Critical to SEO Success

Posted In Technology Reviews, Webmaster - By Techtiplib on Monday, October 14th, 2013 With No Comments »

The recent Google updates have heard many SEO specialists and individuals making claims that link building is no longer an effective SEO strategy. In its place, they’re suggesting that Social Media has taken over. Is this true? Can we categorically say that link building, as we know it, is dead? If you’re still using it as part of your SEO strategy, are you setting yourself up for the ultimate SERP penalty in the future? Or, are people just exaggerating and being paranoid?

What Started the “Link Building is Dead” Myth?

We need to lay the groundwork here so you can understand why some link building strategies, that were popular last year, are probably dead or ineffective right now.

The uproar started when Google began targeting blog networks in 2012. Thus, with subsequent updates, sites using those blog networks or similar link building strategies lost their rankings and positions on the search engines.

Bottom line, websites that were caught “cheating” lost their rankings and in extreme cases, were either sandboxed or completely de-indexed; the same applied to sites where backlinks were built, using blackhat/spamming tools and methods.

Sites Affected by Recent Updates

Google is unwavering and resolute in its determination to rid the Internet of spam and junk. So, websites with spam content, “empty” sites (sites with 2-4 pages of fluff content) and sites with suspicious or “unnatural” link profiles, were/are still being affected.

In fact, the recent Hummingbird and Penguin updates were targeted at spammy content, improving the search results and focusing on search intent and keyword context, as opposed to keyword phrases and search strings alone.

Google is consistently tweaking its algorithms so that only the best websites rise to the top for relevant search queries. What does that tell us? Simple, all businesses looking to siphon traffic from the search engines, using organic SEO, will need to start doing more (read: content).  Which brings us to the question of links being essential to SEO.

Are Links Still Essential/Crucial to SEO success?

You bet they are. The thing you need to know is that it now takes way more than building forum profile links and placing a blog comment here and there. There’s a lot more required.

  • Your link sources have to be pristine, seeing as Google is also beginning to use link neighborhoods as a ranking factor.
  • Links have to be built as naturally as possible. This means the days of building 1,000 links a day to a 2 week old site are over. 
  • Factors like domain age and authority are being considered now. So, your links should come from high PR/DA sites for maximum benefits.
  • Start incorporating social signals into your SEO campaigns.
  • More than ever, long tail keywords, within the right context will ramp up your rankings.

How Can You Successfully Build Links and Get the Best Results?

Focus on Content

This is tough for most people. Unfortunately, the search engines aren’t letting up. If anything, they’re setting the bar high. So, you’ll need to either learn how to create textual and multimedia content yourself or find people who are really good at it and outsource.

Your content strategy must be flawless and top notch. Average content isn’t enough anymore. Think of the top blogs/websites in your industry and create content that’s similar –if not better- than theirs. Remember how they say “build it and they will come”?

Well, now it’s “write it well and they’ll come” –or something like that. High quality content is going to be a recurring theme and as the competition gets fiercer and the “noise” increases, you’ll need to find a way of staying above everything.

If you want, you can adopt this mantra: “Kick-ass content”. Say it frequently, remind yourself every day and most importantly, show it.

Varying Anchor Text

To secure top positions, Google is emphasising natural link building. This means that you need to vary the anchor texts pointing to your website(s).

For instance, if you want top rankings for a keyword, like reputable Exeter SEO agency, 30% of the anchor texts can have that keyword phrase, another 30% multiple LSI keywords, 20% generic names, industry terms and brands and the last 20% can be any word(s) you want.

Bottom line, the idea is when Google looks at your website’s link profile, it should see a “natural” pattern. One more thing, nofollow links are just as important as dofollow links. So, make sure you have an almost equal percentage of both.

What is the Place of Social?

It is here to stay. Make sure to integrate it into your SEO campaigns. However, traditional white hat, link building methods are still the backbone of the internet and won’t be going anywhere in the near future (we’ll update if there’s new information). For a more comprehensive, readon social, read this post.

Final Thoughts

Most importantly, be sure to stay on the edge of things. There is an interesting article by Search Engine Journal regarding future SEO trends. We think it’s a worthwhile read and something you should definitely check out. Link building still works and will continue to work in the foreseeable future. Only thing is, it has to be earned.

What do you think? Do you have a different opinion? Do you think links are going away soon? Do you feel the days of manipulative SEO are numbered? Are you recording fewer results using traditional link building methods? Are your SEO campaigns leaning towards social? Sound off in the comments section and let us know what you think.

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