The Beginnings of Link Building
It wasn’t too long ago that websites relied on link building strategies to improve their search engine rankings. The idea was simple: publish as many links to your site as possible and sit back and reap the rewards. Email inboxes were being spammed, the comment section at the end of every blog article was being filled with irrelevant posts and the internet was getting pretty junked up. This trend also gave rise to some less than upstanding companies who would promise thousands of links for a few hundred dollars. Often times, these offers sounded too good to be true and simply were. Sure, they might get you some links, but they were by no means quality links on websites that anyone would ever come across, especially your target audience.
In response, search engines, with Google leading the charge, adjusted their algorithms and started penalizing companies who implemented bad link building practices. They shifted the entire dynamic of rankings towards link earning, which is ultimately more difficult and time consuming, but also ensures better search results and helps clean up the internet a little and allows users to avoid wasting time on spammy sites.
Essentially, link earning requires you to network with other writers and companies in your industry and organically earn links. Websites have to provide readers with something of value that they are willing to share, comment on, and blog about on their own sites. Even directories that include links should be curated and edited. By constantly tweaking its algorithm as companies find new ways to skirt the system, Google has managed to create an online environment that is focused on quality over quantity.
Why is Link Building on the Way Out?
Google is in the business of providing customers with relevant search results. You type in a search term and they provide you with the best options based on a long list of factors, including: relevance of the site content, link juice, AdWords advertising, how long the site has been around, etc. By focusing too heavily on which sites have paid to spam the internet with bad links, Google wouldn’t be doing much of a service to its customers. They stay competitive by demanding better SEO practices from websites.
If your website or business has yet to transition away from link building strategies, you are probably being penalized in all sorts of ways you don’t even realize. The latest updates to Google’s algorithms require that you provide high quality content across a variety of forums. It simple isn’t enough to put up and website and try to get as many links as possible. The other bad news is that Google will only continue to crack down on link building. If you haven’t been slammed with penalties yet, your day is just around the corner and once you get on Google’s bad side, it can be hard to recover.
Why Do People Dislike Link Earning?
Because it means that they have to work harder and wait longer to see significant results. It takes time to foster relationships, create quality content and build up a following of loyal readers who will share your work and voluntarily opt to receive emails. They pay-offs are huge, but in a world that loves instant gratification, many websites are simply too impatient to put the time and effort into valuable link earning strategies.
Should I Build a Private Blog Network?
One strategy for earning links is to start using a Private Blog Network (PBN). This can be a risky endeavor because it is only separated from purchasing links from links farms by a very thin line. If done incorrectly, Google will pick up on what you are doing and put a halt to your PBN practices. That being said, here is how it works: Over the years, many people have purchased domain names, created websites and then simply let the addresses expire. This means that you can purchase the expired domain name and have access to all the content and links that already exist on the site. By making a few changes, adding anchor text and other relevant links, you now have your information on an established website.
This method for link building does require you to do some homework. First, you need to establish a list of eligible domains that have expired. Then you want to do some research on their back links. There are a quite a few reliable programs available that will allow you to sift through this information, but it will take time. Knowing which sites offer the best backlink juice will help you narrow down your options and only choose the absolute best sites to add to your PBN. The idea is that you could theoretically purchase dozens of websites and have an expansive network of sites adding to your own link juice. This is one way to engage in what is often referred to as multi-tier linking. While PBNs may not help you earn top level, tier 1 links, they will help you cover the lower tiers and contribute to your overall presence on the web.
Again, this is simply one technique and it still falls under the umbrella of link building, which means that it is on the way out. Building a PBN takes both time and money. The average domain will cost $10-15. Then you have to put the energy into adjusting links and constantly monitoring the sites and hoping that Google doesn’t catch on what you are doing. Managing a successful PBN means having a lot of balls in the air at once you will only really be benefiting from lower tiers links. Why not put that same time and effort into link earning and focus on tier 1 links?
How Can I Participate in Link Earning?
Link earning is really all about building your authority as a leading expert in your field. If you operate solely online, you will engage in the same techniques you would in the days before the internet. It is all about building relationships, providing valuable information and becoming a trusted resource for information.
Get to Know Your Industry
Do your own research and figure out who people turn to for information right now. Compile a list of industry leaders and become their new best friend. Leave thoughtful comments on their website and join conversations. You might even want to send them an introductory email and offer to write a guest blog for their site. Trading posts is a great way to earn quality links and solidify relationships with important people in your industry
Use the Power of Press Releases
A press release is just one form of content that will help you earn links. A small write-up on a new product release or significant event at your business can serve as great publicity. Publish the press release on your site and work with other sites like PR Web to make sure that your press release reaches a wider audience and gets picked up by larger business news organizations.
Modern consumers are always on the lookout for reliable reviews of companies, goods and services. If you are able to provide that information, not only will you have an article that will attract readers and encourage comments, it will also be more likely to be shared across different social media outlets and discusses on other blogs.
Update Your Blog Frequently
No website or business can expect to enjoy page one search engine rankings without publishing a high quality blog. This is by far the easiest and most common sense way to provide relevant content that will attract readers and let Google know that you are great site. Stay away from the old methods of keyword stuffing, take the time to identify your target audience and provide them with articles that appeal to their interests. Also, don’t forget to update your blog with new articles. Depending on your goals, you should strongly consider adding a new article every week. Don’t go longer than a month without a new post or you could be working against yourself.
Engage in Offline Activities
One way to build your authority as an industry leader is to hold seminars and public speaking events. Share your knowledge with the public and help them to see that you are a trust source for information. Link earning is all about getting quality publicity both online and off, so be creative and come up with different, meaningful ways to connect with your target audience.
Essentially, link building is the old-school way of trying to improve your search engine rankings. It involves doing things the quick and dirty way. If you are being approached by SEO companies offering thousands of links and all sorts of other promises, run the other way. You will actually do more harm than good to your website and end up with penalties from Google that have actually put companies completely out of business in the past.
Sure, link earning sounds like a lot of hard work, but we all know that 99% of the time, the thing that takes the most work yields the biggest rewards. Avoid penalties down the road by investing your time and energy in link earning strategies now. It may feel like a long, uphill climb, but once your website has established a firm foundation based on tier 1 links and SEO best practices, you will notice that things will quickly start snowballing and one solid link will quickly turn into multiple links. Eventually, link earning will involve more general upkeep and less and less legwork.