Is Link Building Dead?

In the SEO industry a common discussion point in recent times has been the effect of link building on gaining rankings on search engines. Is link building dead? Are we wasting our time building links to potentially get penalised later down the line?

Link building has in away become a case of link earning, creating links full of relevant and engaging content. SEM is now all about integrating different methodologies in the overall online strategy, with the aim to create a unified message transcending through all operations.

An interview took place between Google Web Spam master Matt Cutts and SEO guru Eric Enge, both are considered major focal points in the industry. Below is a summary of key points raised in the interview titled Link Building is Not Illegal

Eric Enge: Of course, people are using the term illegal in an imprecise way. So dont be literal as an engineer with me now. Theyre thinking that Google says all link building is bad.

Matt Cutts: No, not all link building is bad. The philosophy that weve always had is if you make something thats compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it. Their goal should really be to make a fantastic website that people love to experience.

Eric Enge: Businesses always tried to create the best product, the best value, of the best something. Then they would find a way to promote it. Then promotion becomes easy. For example, you can even do a press release and it may well attract attention and cause people to write about it.

Matt Cutts: Press releases dont really count but if that release convinces an editor or a reporter to write a story about it and they link to your website as a result then

Alot of SEO has been focused on technical matters and very highly specific ways to configure your website and stuff like that. There are best practices, and you need to make sure you get the basics right, but it is true that a lot of SEO is now circling back around to good old fashioned marketing.

The more creative you are the better the experience is within your website. In a lot of ways, if you think like a good marketer and think about what will appeal to people, you will find your job as an SEO and getting links or trying to build your links will be easier as well.

Eric Enge: One great way to build links in my vision is to build strong Twitter, Facebook, Google+ presences. Build strong, engaged, followings and then create great content and you push that out and then that audience will likely share it, and start doing other things that cause visibility and help it rank.

Matt Cutts: Absolutely, I completely agree. If you take that big picture view in which youre really doing marketing, one of the ways to get the word out is to have a devoted following.

I firmly support the idea that people should have a diversified way of reaching their audience. So if you rely only on Google it might not be as strong of an approach compared to having a wide variety of different avenues.

Google will improve over time at assessing the authority and reputation and all those characteristics of authors and people in general and people on the web. There are certainly people who are widely known on the web, who have a great reputation, who are experts, who are authorities, who everybody listens to or trusts. When a website is an authority on a given topic and therefore when they write about it, its something that users are more likely to be interested in.

Eric Enge: Another concept is the notion of syndicating great content. There are many different ways to do that. You can take content that youve published on your own website, and you can distribute that, which has its own issues. Some businesses have really strong fundamental reasons for doing that. This notion of syndicating great content seems to be another very valid way of building links, particularly if youre getting on authoritative sites.

Matt Cutts: Syndication can be a valid way to either increase your reputation or to drive traffic and potentially to get more links. On page alterations such as rel=canonicals can help and embedding a link within the text of the article itself is always useful. Ideally, youd want to be insistent on some form of attribution on the syndicated page. Authorship mark-up is something that you can use to remain perceived as the original author even when you are publishing the article on your site.

Alternatively, prior to syndication onto another site, you can ensure that the article is published on your website first and monitor it over a set time period. Search engines rely on signals and heuristics to estimate which is the best website or who is the author of the article.

The more signals or hints or indications you can give us, the easier job it will be for search engines to make sure that the attribution and the reputation flow in the correct direction so that you enjoy the benefits of syndication but you also do well on search.

Eric Enge: A much cleaner way of dealing with this is to create content for syndication and not publish it on your own site. You can have a simple one page piece of content that lists key resources for people looking for information on a specific topic.

Another very popular tactic that people utilise is guest posting. Frankly though, more often than not, guest posting is generally quite a poor strategy. However, I would say that creating a very high-quality article and getting it published on a truly authoritative is still a good achievement.

Matt Cutts: Those are certainly good criteria to keep in mind. The challenge with guest posting is that people have different conceptions about what it means. And so for a lot of people, a guest post is something that a fantastic author has laboured over and published on a highly reputable domain name.

Posts like that can be a great way to get your name out there, to build your reputation, to make yourself more well-known, potentially build links or traffic or help with your SEO. The problem is that with the overall volume of guest posting, a large number of people are regurgitating the same article and emailing it to a mass audience will create the same low quality types of articles that people used to put on article directory/bank sites.


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