Link building has been an important factor of SEO for a long time, and yet, like many other practices, it still grapples with a bad reputation. The majority of that reputation exists thanks to black hat SEO practices, and as a result the useful process of link building remains plagued by misrepresentation. Contrary to common misconceptions about link building, it’s in your interest to understand how and why links have the role in SEO that they do, as well as the difference between good linking and bad linking. To start, let’s clear up some of the falsehoods that surround link building practices.
- Link building doesn’t make a difference.
Totally not true. Link building can make a big difference in the SEO of your site, as long as it’s done effectively. The accumulation of quality links acts as a system of votes on different search engines. The more links that get left to your website, the more the search engine recognizes you as an authority that people are voting for. Moz says it best:
However, it’s worth noting that there is a right and wrong way to do this. Link building becomes ineffective and fails to make a difference when the emphasis shifts from quality. Leaving hundreds of links on shady websites that search engines don’t respect won’t make a positive difference. Moreover, it should be clarified that link building is a continuous effort. With so many web pages created on a daily basis, the links you build today might not necessarily be helpful 5 years from now, but the consistent and steady building of quality links will help your site over time.
- Link building results in penalties.
Only if you’re doing it the naughty way. Instead of combing through the ins and outs of Google’s penalty system, take a look at these tips:
- Don’t invest in black hat link building or SEO practices. At all. Ever. You might get away with it for a while, but eventually Google will find out. This is particularly important when it comes to link building. If you’re working with SEO providers who pay for links or build links by the thousands in a spam-like fashion, you (or they) are going to get in trouble with Google. No brand is exempt from these penalties, and even big brands get penalized for improper SEO.
- Get rid of bad links. Google encourages the proactive pruning of bad links. This will require spending some time in whatever website analysis tool you have to determine which links are rotten, but then you can move forward and systematically remove them.
- Be a website worth linking to. You might get some killer links on reputable websites, but that’s not going to mean much for long if it links users or search engines back to a low quality website. A great link should leave bread crumbs that lead back to a great website. That means having exceptional content and an awesome website design.
In short, taking time to account for quality every step of the way can save you a big headache later on. Stay away from quick fixes and black hat SEO/SEO service providers, and you won’t find yourself slapped with a Google penalty.