If you aren’t familiar with the term link-building- it refers to the off page SEO tactic involving external sites linking back to your site. Link building has greatly evolved since the 90’s-remember completely useless link directories? As Google’s spam team continues to improve their algorithm, website owners must continue to keep up with the SEO rules. Fortunately, the ideology behind link building is actually getting easier to understand and in some ways easier to  implement.


Link building should mimic how you would interact with others in person. Let me explain.


Traditional link building practices included submitting your link to a directory, spamming comments on blogs with a link back to your website, article directories and so on and so forth. All these traditional link building practices have something in common: They would be highly inappropriate in a social situation. Let’s take spammy blog comments with links back to their site.


You’re at somebody’s fourth of July party where everybody is having a good time. The host is well liked (reputable website), everybody is enjoying the activities (solid content), and overall everybody is networking very naturally in conversation (comments). Now imagine somebody barging in and saying “WOW REALLY GREAT PARTY. HOW ABOUT EVERYBODY COME TO MY HOUSE! (links back to their website)” This person’s behavior lends them no credibility and certainly nobody will follow (click on their link ) them to their house (website) . Google’s algorithms used to value links in general that go back to your site. Now Google’s algorithms have evolved to mimic more natural behavior. Google long ago learned that those built links aren’t valuable because they aren’t earned. They are forced. They do not help users retrieve relevant and quality content.


Imagine the same situation without the blog spammer walking in. Instead, it is just a crowd of people in their niche conversing in authentic exchanges.


Tim: Wow, you know Dave that was a really great article. I might use some of that information on my website.

Dave: You know that guy really knows his stuff. I should check out some of his content.


The interaction is genuine. It is not fake. These type of links that are earned are what Google desires.


Let’s take another classic example: Buying links with dollars. Long ago (for the most part), website owners would actually buy links to their website. This would be the equivalent of somebody owning a huge billboard containing a list of “Best Restaurants in Helena.” It may work for a while just like buying links worked for a while, but eventually people (Google) will figure out that being on that list doesn’t represent culinary excellence (good content) but instead means they paid some money. A better and more natural form of interaction would basically be focusing on solid content. If the food you serve is delicious, people will recommend it to others. Again, something that happens very naturally. This is an earned link rather than a purchased link. Google values these kinds of exchanges.


For a final example let’s take a look at the newer alternative to article directories. Article directories contain a mass amount of articles that link back to a website that others download and use on their own website as content. So you have somebody uploading their article hoping for a link back and then you have somebody else who wants content. The purposes of these articles written was not the content they contained, but the forced link building that resulted. This would be the equivalent of somebody who has a really great theory on a health supplement. This person puts a lot of time and effort into their work and then proceeds to try to get every other person to advertise their work- regardless of that person’s reputation or credentials. You can see how this very practice does nothing for the content creator and can actually hurt them. The alternative and timeless strategy would be to aim for guest postings on sites that are reputable and care about their content. That means that site has an audience and doesn’t post anything and everything.


Bottom line: If you are doing something to get links that feels forced, then Google probably won’t value those links. If they value them now, then SEO trends show they will be discovered and penalized in the future.  As Google continues to update their spam algorithms, it is becoming clear their aim is to support authentic SEO tactics. Regardless of whatever future updates that roll out, it is safe to say that authentic relationships and marketing will always be safe and effective in off-page SEO. If you wouldn’t support your business in person how you would your SEO strategy, then skip it. Finally, always remember that Google’s search engine’s purpose is to deliver the user good content. Does your SEO strategy help the user find appropriate and quality content?

Need help with your off-site SEO strategy? Check out some of our natural link earning services.