Link building — acquiring links back to a company website — is one of the most misunderstood topics in all of SEO. You hear things such as “links are no longer relevant,” and “link building is unethical,” and wonder what you should have your SEO resource do (if anything) to build links. Here is the true picture of SEO link building.
- Links are still extremely important for Google rankings. This recent and highly representative test confirms it. Because of their importance, links are almost always a central component of an effective SEO campaign. However, not all types of link building are constructive.
- Link “schemes” can hurt or devastate your SEO. There are good and bad types of link building, and Google spells out the bad ones right here. Generally, link building schemes that attempt to manipulate Google’s algorithm, involve an exchange of money or rely on automation are bad. Engaging in these activities exposes a company to penalties, possibly severe. No reputable SEO agency would engage in these bad link building practices.
- Link building can give you a decisive SEO advantage. For many small and midsize firms, acquiring strong inbound links is a challenge. Because it is difficult to build a strong inbound link profile, doing so gives you a major SEO edge over competitors with weak profiles.
- Not all inbound links are good links. The best inbound links are from websites and blogs that are relevant to your business and have high authority. When Google crawlers see links coming from irrelevant websites or bad online citizens, they may suspect a link scheme is underway — and this could hurt you. Smart link building strives for the right mix of quality and quantity.
- Best practices for link building change. One reason people are confused about link building is Google’s habit of changing the rules through algorithm updates. For instance, in the old days, the anchor text of inbound links was usually a string of keywords. As this practice came to be overused, Google changed. Today, a mixture of keywords and other text is favored. Because link building evolves, existing inbound links sometimes need to be reviewed and updated to conform to current standards.