There are no more shortcuts to link building. In 2013-2014, Google changed the rules for SEO once again. It’s slowly trying to shift the mentality from “hunting” for links to “growing” them naturally. Sincerely, there are no future proof link building techniques that we could vouch for, because we’re swimming in a sea of uncertainty. You can’t forecast with certainty the decisions Google will or will not take in order to predict the path for SEO as a technique.
The algorithms developed by Google seem to be going in the direction that they planned for. Given the fact that they are always trying to stay ahead of the curve, Google releases update after update. Their ideal goal is to make the search results impossible to alter for the ill intentioned “SEO”. Since links are one of the most important ranking factors in the algorithm, Google has to find a way to make it harder for the webmaster to influence it. Any good SEO campaign requires some sort of link building strategy, which is no trivial task to perform. That’s why, over the years, there’s been a lot of abuse to generate links. In most cases Google adapted and dissolved those tactics.
We’ve talked on multiple occasions about tactics used to generate links, most of them condemned by Google and some that still work in 2014.
The common denominators for which all of these strategies were dubbed unnatural are excess and abuse. You can clearly understand why they want to destroy the old link hunting mentality. Take a look at Matt Cutts’ latest decision of hitting guest blogging. Guest blogging went from being a valuable source of insights for professionals to a link building tactic used for the sole purpose of acquiring links. Matt Cutts clearly expressed that this is only about Guest Blogging for SEO.
The Reverse Psychology of Obtaining Links in 2014
All website owners and SEO specialists want to build links and at the same time run alongside Google.
“Old School” Link Building Mentality - Spend lots of time to obtain links & become more relevant in the SERPs.
“Nowadays” Link Building Mentality - Create relevant & engaging content in order to build a reputation in the community, and get your site linked.
It’s been a lot of talk about how content creates links that will boost your rankings for your desired keywords. If done right, the content from your site draws interest, not only from influencers but from all sort of people from your niche. And when people start talking about you and you’re going to get mentions and links. Building your authority in the eyes of Google means that Google starts trusting you in terms of the topic your are usually writing about and it will boost your rankings even without “rich anchor text” pointing at your pages.
Links are the by-product of a long chain of marketing processes!
One would consider putting an equality sign between content and links, but it wouldn’t be justified. If you’re only pursuing a higher ranking in Google’s search results, you just don’t have to go for all the trouble of creating quality content and promoting it. And you’re probably not going to be satisfied with the short-term results. Creating quality content is more of a long-term strategy and you won’t be able to see the results right away.
We’re living in a “here and now” society and we like to see results right away. That’s why it’s so hard to grasp a concept that seems so vague, as content marketing!
The Imminent Dangers of Link Building in 2014
Slightly fading away, link building still exists in some forms. But Google gets too impatient with this form of “link building” and started to penalize sites, either through algorithmic or manual actions. They even do it for a couple of unnatural links. They had enough with link chasing and trading, and they want to abolish the concept of “link acquisition for SEO” forever. That is why they took the “penalize” route and not the “ignore” route. They could simply ignore irrelevant links, but it seems that their purpose is to make it very clear that these kind of “link building strategies” are not tolerated.
It may be that Google doesn’t even care how many big or small sites they hurt with their algorithm updates. Google will push forward with their changes, if they think it’s in the best interest of the user to help him get relevant and qualitative search results.
As “SEO focused” people, we’re constantly disputing the ways Google “appreciates” whether a site is relevant or not for a specific topic or query. Before taking your torches and pitchforks I need to remind you that they are the one of the biggest authorities in relevance modeling. If you want to rank in Google, you have to embrace their reality as your own, or else you might end up on the other side of the road. Matt Cutts was talking about link building in an interview in 2012 stating: “It segments you into a mindset, and people get focused on the wrong things”. The conclusion is that Google doesn’t want you to search for “link building strategies” just for the sake of increasing your rankings.
Link Building Becomes Brand Building
While a few years back a SEO Professional was clearly focused on optimizing sites for the search engines through specific technical methods mostly, today we see SEO specialists using information from other related domains such as copywriting, branding, public relations and content marketing. It’s pretty clear that SEO is transcending into a form of marketing which borrows knowledge from areas around.
Everywhere you look around, you will see more advice on long-term strategies and less about short-term techniques.
You don’t see anymore tips on how to create links but rather on how to create engagement and promote your brand on the internet.
Your link building techniques shouldn’t be about focusing on link building solely anymore. The goal is to create a strong reputation in your niche and to establish yourself as an influencer and an active participant. If you’re going to be keen on respecting this essential objective you will also get those desired links that will boost your rankings, in the end.
Link building is quickly changing and shaping up to be something much more evolved and intricate.
The “chemistry of creating links” has changed a lot over the years and it will continue to evolve!
The formula for SEO is definitely much more complex now, and it requires more elaborate planning. Even though Google is trying to label “link building” as outdated and creating an aura of salvation around relevant content, they didn’t fully uncovered the recipe for future unbiased rankings. Increasing your link profile was always a tricky task for an SEO and that’s why they jumped from one viable link building tactic to another.
Google made it’s best to render link building techniques useless and we’ve all seen the wrath when it comes to punishing those who don’t abide to Google’s Guidelines. If you want to rank in Google, it’s best that you stop struggling to find ways of “manufacturing” links and embrace the long-term Brand Building techniques.
What’s your view on the future of link building?Photo credits: 1,2,3,4