The Link Building Landscape Has Changed: How Are You Adapting?

It’s almost importance to ignore the fact that the way in which link building is carried out has been changing at a rapid pace. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the methodology associated with effective, sustainable link building has been undergoing some changes.

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Google’s Penguin updates have brought some older link building techniques into sharp focus. As small business owners, in particular, have witnessed their websites losing positioning and visitor numbers in decline, questions have been asked about why such problems are occurring. In many cases, the link profile is to blame.

Gaining links at speed

For some years, many SEO providers have sought to make use of techniques where there is a focus on gaining links quickly and easily from a wide range of sources. By ensuring that the link anchor text often includes exact match keywords, the theory was that this would allow a site to gain real presence within Google’s results pages.

To put it bluntly, this was the approach that was often being taken simply because it produced results. With happy clients, benefiting from a quick uplift in results, there was no real reason to adopt a different strategy.

Clients were requesting quick results and this one way of delivering. So what has the impact of Penguin been and what changes are now required?

One of the key elements of the Penguin updates has been to examine the manner in which links were being place. In particular, it was becoming clear that some SEO specialists were using link building as a technique that was purely aimed at manipulating the search engine results. There was no aim of increasing visitor numbers, adding to the knowledge pool, or building an audience. Instead, all that really seemed to matter was whether a link might boost positioning for a particular keyword.

A lack of value being added

What this strategy meant was that large quantities of links were being created, but that few of these links were adding real value. The most recent algorithm updates can be seen within this context, with a recognition that the improvements have been about forcing website owners to concentrate on issues surrounding quality. It’s no longer feasible to build a sustainable online process, without stopping to consider how much quality is really being provided.

How can we think more logically about the concept of quality? When I’m conducting an outreach campaign, I’ll increasingly find myself looking to see what strategy a particular website owner has in mind. In order to find out whether a link would be of value to me (and them), I want to know about social media interactions, the existing audience and plans for the future. Within this context, it’s simply not enough to be presented with the out-dated PageRank of the site. It’s time to think in a more holistic manner.

For some people, this undoubtedly requires a dramatic change to the way in which they currently think about link building as a process. If you have clients, for example, who are expecting you to add hundreds of links in any given month, then it can require a level of re-education. There’s that need to explain just how powerful a handful of links can be. Once that is understood the whole process becomes much easier.

Building an audience

When you place a link now, you might wish to forget about the possible SEO benefits. Instead, you could ask yourself a simple question: how many targeted visitors might I receive, as a result of this link being in place?

This makes sense on a number of levels, not least because it’s a primary aim of your site to get targeted visitors, who may go on to become customers. That’s undoubtedly of more importance than imagining that your sole objective should be to build a never-ending set of links. There is so much more that you can achieve.

Simon Barnett

As he outlines at www.searchsouthseo.co.uk, Simon Barnett believes in a form of content marketing that continues to produce results. He acknowledges that other link building techniques have worked in the past.

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