Is link building still a viable SEO strategy we should work on, or should we move on to other things?
Some SEO experts are saying yes, while others are saying no. In the past, link building was one of the best ways you could get a boost in search ranking results, but what do major search engines say now?
We know that bad links could make you lose rankings and crucial traffic. Matt Cutts (Google’s ex head of the web spam team) stated in 2014 that Google doesn’t like guest blog posts, but why are SEO agencies still using this strategy to improve their client’s rankings?
As it stands, link building is still going strong and very much a part of any well-rounded SEO strategy. However, there are various link building tactics that you should avoid in 2018 – Here’s 6 of them:
1. (Automated) Press Release
Sending of press releases en masse used to be good practice among bloggers and marketers. Today, Google doesn’t want anyone doing that due to spamming reasons.
Press releases work great if you do them every now and then, but the thing is that it shouldn’t be part of your primary SEO strategy. Keep press releases off automated platforms and do them properly. Google’s current algorithm doesn’t place as much value in the links that were obtained via press releases, which means you get less returns for your effort.
The key to good link building via press release is to only do it when something newsworthy happens to your site and only to the most relevant platforms. Reserve it only for the most important news so you won’t be accused of spamming.
Remember, journalists cover stories…
2. Over-optimization of Anchor Text
Google’s algorithm is becoming smarter than ever, which means you won’t need to over-optimize your content for SEO purposes. When before it was okay to put in plenty of anchor text with associated keywords, now it’s largely seen as “unnatural” and should be avoided whenever possible.
Bottom line is that you shouldn’t worry too much about keywords and anchor text. Just write naturally and place the anchor texts where it fits and flows.
3. Buying Links
Despite what marketing gurus and SEO companies claim, buying links does not work anymore and businesses should stop doing it.
The idea of buying links to jump-start your SEO efforts was generally frowned upon a few years ago, and you can bet that it’s still considered as an unscrupulous strategy today. It’s unethical, inefficient and can quickly get your site down the rankings. Keep in mind that ever since the Penguin update came out, Google can now penalize sites practicing shady link building strategies in real time, so it’s best to just not do it.
So, instead of buying links you should opt for a more natural way to get backlinks, which is creating great content. You can also invest your money in other accepted SEO strategies. Stay away from site owners offering links as it could prove to be detrimental for your website and ultimately, your business.
PBNs, or Private Blog Networks were hugely popular in the older days of SEO as it boosted your rankings dramatically and gave you huge traffic in a short amount of time. But don’t expect to get the same results because today, PBNs are now deemed as irrelevant as the other link building tactics in this list.
These private networks existed exclusively for link-building reasons. They were created to build up links amongst each other and for sites who would pay to get in on the action. During recent years Google has learned of this tactic and blacklisted all sites that participated in PBN activities.
While it may be tempting to join PBNs and enjoy a surge in traffic and search engine rankings, it’s wiser to just stay away from them and invest in other sound practices. Getting blacklisted will be the last thing you need when you’re optimizing your site for higher rankings.
5. Link Exchanges
Link exchanges are an agreement between two websites. Website A gives a backlink to Website B, and Website B does the same for Website A.
On paper it doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but Google has deemed the activity as “unnatural” and therefore placed sanctions on those who do it often. Google has the algorithm and the technology to see how many links are “exchanged” between two sites and will penalize accordingly.
Natural link exchanges are quite difficult due to a number of things. One, you’ll need to find a website with similar interests as yours, and two, you’ll need to establish a relationship with the owner and have them agree to exchange links with you. What’s more, SEO flow is interrupted and this kind of link building strategy has too many risky elements.
6. Forums and Blog Comments
The key to making blog and forum comments work is to make it relevant, on topic and something like a real person would say to another. If it’s obviously promotional and hard-selling, chances are that the moderator or the blog owner will simply delete it or ban your forum account. In 2018 Google has placed less value on the impact of comments relative to SEO, so it’s best used in moderation.
Bottom line is that your comment should make sense and be relevant to the topic. Moreover, it should be helpful and informative.
These are the six link building tactics that you should steer clear of in 2018. These strategies may offer a quick road to SEO success, but in the end you’ll pay a heavy price. Google’s algorithms are getting smarter with each update and you can’t really outsmart the search engine when it comes to these unscrupulous tactics.
When done right, link building can boost your website’s rankings, get you much-needed traffic and establish your business as the leading authority in your respective industry. You can get there if you focus on providing high-quality, informative content and writing with your audience in mind. Get links only from high-ranking, quality sites. Invest in different tools for a well-rounded SEO strategy.
Link building, like all other SEO tactics should be done right. Sure, it may take some time to see the results, but you can be sure that you’re building up a good foundation for your website’s ranking and reap the benefits in the end.
Craig Griffiths the founder of SearchUp, a specialist Link Building agency. With just over 9 years experience in search marketing, he has been trusted to deliver campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world.
Featured image taken from Pexels.com