During the turn of the century, SEO and link building tactics were synonymous with each other. If you weren’t link building, you were missing out on the #1 SEO technique. Oh how the times have changed!
These days, using active link building tactics may help, but it could also get your site penalized by Google or other search engines. Why such a drastic change? This article will explain why SEO and link building tactics no longer mix.
Early Search Engines & The Importance Of Inbound Links
Back when search engines were still a bit primitive (compared to today), there were very few factors search engines would take into account when deciding which websites to rank over others. Many savvy website owners and affiliate marketers discovered the #1 way search engines ranked sites was through the number of links pointing to a website (or at least a specific page on a site).
From a search engines point of view, each link pointing into a site was like a vote of confidence. The more people that linked to a site, the more “votes” that site received. Whoever got the most “votes” (links) would win the search engine battle and rank highest.
By the way, you should definitely check out this article explaining search engine optimization if you haven’t already.
The System Was Abused
Once this secret was out, many website owners manipulated Google and other search engines by creating “unnatural links” and pointing them into their site. They would accomplish this by creating hundreds or even thousands of low quality blogs and websites (usually by using automated software), then they would place links on all of those sites pointing into their main website (the one they wanted to rank in search engines).
After that, companies started to pop up offering link building services. Essentially website owners would pay a set fee to have a certain number of links pointing into their site. It was no longer necessary to even create your own network of blogs or websites. You could pay a small fee and have someone else do that for you.
Something Had To Change
After a while, there were so many link building services out there that prices for link building tactics took a nose dive. For $5 you could drive thousands of links into your site. The way search engines were ranking websites was not sustainable.
About this time, Google had risen through the ranks and became the #1 search engine by far (still true to this day). But even Google began to suffer. Low quality websites with 10’s of thousands of links (or more) began dominating the first page of search results. People using Google were getting unhappy and so were Google’s advertisers. In addition, high quality websites that were not paying for links suffered, because they couldn’t rank highly in the search engines.
It was a disaster.
Google And Their ‘Warning’ To Website Owners About Link Building Tactics
Starting around 2008, Google began seriously warning website owners to stop all link building tactics. This was an SEO technique that Google wanted to see disappear. Instead of focusing on link building tactics, Google wanted website owners to focus on creating a great user experience for site visitors.
Hardly anyone listened and the link building tactics, including purchasing paid links, continued. That is, until 2011.
In 2011, Google put through some very major changes to their search algorithm. It turned the affiliate marketing world upside down and link building tactics haven’t been the same since.
Not only did Google disregard lower quality links, but they actually started to penalize websites that were caught using link building tactics. In spite of the years of warnings to website owners, those who continued to build unnatural links into their site saw their websites disappear from Google search results almost overnight. It was the single biggest event to hit the search world in the history of the internet. Everything changed.
Are Links Still Used In Search Algorithms?
Absolutely, and it is still a major factor in how Google ranks websites. However, these days, it’s no longer about quantity of links, but quality of links. Not only does Google not count low quality links, but Google has also been able to identify “link building networks” where people pay for links into their site. If you get caught buying links, kiss your Google rankings goodbye, possibly forever. Many businesses are still trying to recover from the initial updates made by Google in 2011.
Can you trick Google with link building tactics by making them look natural? Maybe, but Google is getting better and better at catching unnatural links. So it’s quite a risk and in my opinion, an unnecessary one.
Link Building Tactics Today & How To Rank Highly In Search Engines
Any link building tactics using manipulation or trying to “trick” the search engines will very likely get you penalized. You might get away with it for a while, but eventually, you will most likely get caught.
The future of link building tactics and SEO is to simply provide the best possible experience for people landing on your website. You can do that by writing high quality information about a topic people are searching for.
If you create a positive user experience, people will naturally share links to your site on forums, social media, with their friends, and even high quality sites such as CNN.com, Wikipedia.org, or even educational and government sites will start linking to you. Just one or two links from those sources is far better than 100 links from lower quality blogs.
Knowing The Difference Between A “Natural Link” & An “Unnatural Link”
Natural links happen, well, naturally. You don’t need to do anything to get the link. You don’t have to ask anyone to link to you and you don’t have to hire a company to assist you with link building tactics. People simply link because they love your content.
Conversely, an unnatural link is any link that you have asked for, paid for, or otherwise encouraged. Yes, this even includes guest blogging and providing content to other website owners that include just 1 or 2 text links back to your website. While this strategy might still work, it’s getting more and more dangerous. Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google, is now warning website owners to stop guest blogging in his own personal blog.
He said, “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
Will website owners listen? YOU should.
Does this mean you can never link to your site in a blog comment or anywhere else? Not really. As long as you think a link to your site is relevant and helpful, go ahead and post it. The point is, don’t deliberately spend time going out to blogs and forums for the sole purpose of linking into your site. At best, it will be a waste of time. Blog commenting isn’t really a link building tactic, it is just an “extra” when you find a place your link would actually be beneficial.
Search Engines Are Getting Smarter By The Day
Search engines are getting incredibly good at separating high quality websites from lower quality sites. We all still find low quality sites in search results (due to th, but the general direction for Google is to rank websites that truly provide a great user experience. The better experience you provide, the higher you will rank, the more people will link to you, and the more secure your financial future will be. So instead of trying to manipulate Google’s search algorithm, focus on your visitors. If they are happy, Google is happy, and so is your bank account.
Check out this awesome article answering the question, how does Google work?
Set Up A Phenomenal Business Plan
If you plan on making money online, you need a great business plan. It’s amazing how so few affiliate marketers or e-commerce sites actually have a working business plan. It doesn’t take long to create one and when you have a plan, you don’t need to manipulate Google with link building. You’ll know exactly how to succeed in a legitimate way.
If you haven’t done so already, head on over and sign up for my this online marketing e-course. By next week, you’ll not only have a kick butt affiliate marketing business plan, but you’ll also have your own custom WordPress website established. From there, all you have to do is provide great content (already planned out in your business plan) and you can start earning a full-time income online just like I do.
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