Search Engine Optimization has a longer history than many people realize. Link building was historically how companies increased their rankings. But this process soon became plagued with black-hat SEO tactics such as link farms, paid links, hidden links, and spammy links. This led Google to create a new algorithm in 2012 that cracked down on these practices.
Today, most SEO agencies still consider link building an important part of any SEO campaign. But is it still worth it, and how important is it to an SEO campaign these days?
Link building used to be the most valuable part of any SEO campaign, but after black-hat tactics overtook it, Google revamped its algorithm to start taking other factors into account, namely original, quality content.
Many in the SEO industry (including ourselves) believe that focusing on quality content is far more valuable than putting efforts towards link building. After all, the higher quality the content the greater chance that it will rank higher and that users will interact with it – leading to organic backlinks.
There is also the issue of Google’s guidelines surrounding link building. According to Google’s webmaster guidelines, links that are not organically given are technically in violation. That means any link built by submitting an article, guest blogging, or paying is actually going against Google’s guidelines. Google doesn’t seem to focus too much on this, instead only penalizing sites that have high levels of toxic or spam backlinks or are caught paying for them.
Those that argue in support of intensive link building practices tend to focus on visibility. What is the point of having high-quality content if no one sees it? This is especially true in highly competitive markets. If everyone has great content, businesses may need something else to set them apart.
Link building’s greatest value isn’t that it helps “domain authority” or page rank, although that’s what people tend to focus on. The practice of link building is important to SEO because it can drive traffic to the website. That’s why purchasing links or getting spammy backlinks isn’t worth the effort or money.
While backlinks help with visibility, businesses should also remember that internal linking plays a big role in SEO. While building backlinks might not be worth the effort for every business, internal linking is a simple and easy way to boost SEO. It helps direct users to other useful, relevant content and it makes it easier for Google bots to crawl and index your site.
So is link building still worth it for SEO campaigns these days? Yes and no.
Link building should be a part of any SEO campaign. An SEO agency should always be on the lookout for quality link building opportunities. However, in most instances, link building should not be the main goal. It shouldn’t be the primary focus of the campaign.
Instead, businesses should focus on earning links rather than building them.
Organically earned links will earn more traffic, be more relevant, and fulfill Google’s guidelines. If you’re in a highly competitive market link building will have more value, however, it’s still most important to have quality content that is useful for your users.