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March 3, 2014

Is Link Building Still Safe in 2014? Yes, If You’re Not Stupid

There has been plenty of panic floating around the SEO world this year, and it’s mostly involving link building. When Google released its Penguin update that started penalizing sites that participated in manipulative link strategies, fear began to take over. Is link building dead? Is it still safe?

As many SEOs know, link building can be difficult and time-consuming. And Google has made it clear that bad, valueless links will not help you move up in the search rankings – as we all know, building bad links can even harm your efforts.

But did we really ever want Google to reward us for crappy links that cluttered the Internet with meaningless content? Google simply took action and found a way to remove the value of spammy links from its algorithm, meaning the search engine is now reinforcing the value of user-centered links.

If you look at it this way, link building hasn’t died at all. It actually means that good link building is more valuable than ever. If you put in the time and effort to understand and begin practicing good link building tactics, Google will significantly reward you.

Link Building Is Still Important

In July, Matt Cutts confirmed that links are still the best way for Google to discover the relevancy of a site. The simple truth is that, in 2014, link building is still one of the most important factors to improving your ranking and visibility in the search engines.

When considering your budget, it isn’t wise to stop link building altogether. Instead, invest the time and resources into building good links that Google will reward – links that give you more visibility in organic searches. While you may want to get informed on how social media and authorships are starting to influence link building, they are all factors that are simply tied together to ensure Google gives users the most relevant content.

What Makes a Good Link?

If you’re wondering about the best way to build links, start focusing on the best way to build good, quality links. If you don’t invest the time and try to build an easy link that offers no benefit to your visitors, Google won’t reward you for it.

There are some primary characteristics of a good link, and this is what the new link building forecast looks like:

  • The link should be valuable to the reader
  • The reader should be likely to click on the link
  • The link should be on a site that’s at least loosely related to yours
  • The link should be on a page that has relevant content to the page you’re linking to

The bottom line is your link should be relevant for the visitor. Google is rewarding focused, user-centered links that are targeting relevant traffic. And isn’t that the main focus of SEO anyway?

What Makes a Bad Link?

It’s important to understand the difference between link scheming and link building. Link scheming is not link building, and it’s these types of bad link practices that will cause Google to penalize you. Here are a few things that Google considers link scheming:

  • Selling or buying links merely to pass PageRank
  • Linking to a site just so you can get a link back
  • Using automated programs to build your site’s links
  • Participating in massive guest posting using keyword-rich anchor text
  • Buying articles with links that pass Page Rank

There are plenty of other link building tactics that walk the fine line between scheming and building – for instance, if you insert links into articles illogically without relevance. Or if you’re linking to web spammers and unrelated sites, in order to pass Page Rank. These types of practices could still cause a penalty if you’re not careful.

The easiest way to avoid creating a bad link is to stop scheming, and do what SEO has always been about. Target your audience with relevant content, and take their needs into consideration so they want to visit your site.

Start Creating Social Links

Links are clearly more important than ever if you learn to build them the right way, but social signals and shares are also becoming important. If content is socialized and spread around the Internet, it can have a large impact on your search engine rankings.

Social signals are beginning to do what traditional link building used to – they confirm that users are finding the content useful and relevant. This connects to link building in a big way, because, after all, you can’t look to build a quick relationship over social media, just like you can’t look to build a quick link. Focus on building long-term relationships with people, and engage with them so they’ll care about the links you’re building and the content you’re sharing.

This will help you surround your links with human interaction. You want to share high quality content that social media users will find useful enough to share and link to.

Find Safe Ways

The best way to invest your time and money into link building is by doing it the right way-the way that will help you move up in the SERPs and draw relevant traffic to your site. While link building is arguably the most difficult part of SEO, don’t be afraid of it.

Find external link building opportunities where the link’s success depends on approval by readers. Focus on human interaction and the social side of link building, and start building quality links that are the most relevant as possible. Link to the pages readers would genuinely be interested in on your site.

Give your users the experience they want, and invest your time into quality over quantity. Link building is nowhere near dead if you can adopt safe, user-driven practices.


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Adrienne Erin writes for SiteProNews twice weekly about online marketing. She loves to see businesses like AquaPhoenix Scientific succeed on the web.

42 Responses to “Is Link Building Still Safe in 2014? Yes, If You’re Not Stupid

    avatar John says:

    submission to high page rank free directories takes very long time for approval, its better to get backlinks from social sites as u get yuor link live on the social sites.

    avatar Dr. Charles Cavanaugh says:

    @John that is correct, that link building by submitting to free high page rank directories is probably more time than it is worth. However, certain sites pertaining to your subject matter are worth the effort, and with a conscientious moderator can contribute value to the directory.

    avatar Tanveer says:

    Very nice post written in a very simple way. Google has done a good thing by regulating link building. It will ensure that people pay more attention to quality content rather than using spam as a way of building links.
    Few points mentioned above for building good quality links will ensure that only genuine sites rank well on Google.

    avatar Pawel says:

    For Google every link is “bad”. They had a great idea with “unnatural links”. As for now they can dropp down any site they want and they always have a reason to do this. U can find “bad” links for every site in the world. So if Google need more $ from AdWords, they start an “update”, which is no update, but just dropping down a lot of domains. I really see no difference since many years, all techniques works as always, there are no changes in algorithm, they just do “dropping actions”. AdWords is always the reason.
    Average Google’s user does not care about the reason this site is higher than other, they do not care about links, they look for sth and need the answer. So as long as they find the answer everything is fine. The only reason for punishing sites should be misleading users (e.g. they look for sports shoes and get the site which seems to be about sports shoes but it is not). But in such situation Google would not dropp down a lot of domains whenever they want. So it makes no sense for them, they need $$$$ from AdWords, they do not care about spam, they care about money. All the rest is their PR in which so many stupid people believe…

    avatar Rajesh says:

    Sorry I am not with you. Google is doing well. Please don’t mind, I think your old strategies are not working for your client sites, that’s why you are saying such things.

    Thanks for the information about the link building impact on SEO. Many SEO’s told me that a link building plan is the best way to improve the ranking of a website, but you made it very clear that excess link building can penalize our website.

    avatar wor says:

    Thank you for the nice article. “Google is rewarding focused, user-centered links that are targeting relevant traffic”. It says all. I guess at the end is the same what Kind of link you are going to put, but this link Need lot of clicks 😉

    avatar James Digriz says:

    This article has no content of any value.

    If you want to write an article that people link to, make it good, this is just keyword-stuffing and of no practical use to anyone.

    avatar Sarel Jan says:

    I don’t want to be that guy, but these articles are all the same and don’t offer much value to the reader. “Don’t buy links, don’t (over)use keyword-rich anchor text and focus on social.”

    As much as link building is not dead, do some looking around, it seems that things are more churn and burn than ever before as I see many competitors knock out a site add a few spammy backlinks and they rank well. As much as everyone says quality content is king I sure wish it would reflect more in the SERPS.

    avatar Legit Online Jobs From Home says:

    Hello Dear,

    Thanks for this information. Actually you solved my a big problem. Because for a long time I was confused about this matter. Is link building still useful or not?

    Today I am feeling very good after reading your post. I have a humble request for you kindly continue your posting with new updates.Best of luck and keep it up..

    avatar Edward S says:

    I want to remove many bad link with disavow tool but I heard google will suspecious our site if we are using too many their tool. Its mean google will knowing if our site doesnt have good content.

    avatar sid says:

    This article is an eye opener and very helpful. Thanks

    http://webverticaldomains.com

    avatar Submit Link says:

    Great article, Adrienne! You’re right, link building is very important in SEO. It’s one of the most important ways for the most common search engines to rank websites, but as everyone knows, not only the quantity but the quality is important!

    So, the safest way to promote your site and reduce the risk of being penalized is to use the Nofollow attribute in links for “Direct Traffic” and only in rare cases add a direct link.

    avatar saad says:

    Yes sure, Link building is safe in 2014.

    avatar Maria says:

    Adrienne Erin you are right, link-building or SEO campaign is not as easy as it was before two years. There are lots of technicalities required now in SEO campaign. Now there is more need to be relevant and ethical in this process. I personally thing that investing on social media marketing is more effective than investing on building link or SEO because via social media marketing we can get new customers and build relations with customers. Which will help to get good business.

    avatar Shrikant says:

    I found your post more useful and clear. Thanks for the good and useful information. Yes link building is still useful if you did it in proper and ethical ways. Just buying and making spam won’t help anymore. Matt Cutts has declared that guest posting is no more useful and so the article submissions.

    avatar SagarGanatra says:

    Hi,
    Link Building is Still impotent in 2014?
    If yes then give us ans which type of Link Submit E.G

    Social Bookmarking Its this Right ?
    My experience Its Good.

    Directory Submission is it Right?
    My experience Say its Not.

    Crag list Submission is it Right?
    My experience Its Good.

    Video Submission is it Right?
    My experience Its Good.

    Press Release is it Right?
    My experience Its Good.

    Classified Posting is it Right?
    My experience Not

    Blog Commenting
    My experience says NOT and Yes If Relative.

    Link Exchange is it Right?
    My experience says NOT

    Article Submission is it Right?
    My experience says NOT

    PDF Submission is it Right?
    My experience Its Good.

    Please tell us what SEO Expert Have to Do for Getting Top In Google In 2014 in Brief We want to Understand The Logic.

    Thanks
    Sgb

    avatar link building seo company India says:

    I am totally agree on your comment. Some of the link building strategy is not good like paid link building, low quality directory submission as well as unrelated blog comments.

    avatar Varun Khanna says:

    Like this article. Its worth spending time in quality link building especially through blogging

    avatar Rejith says:

    Erin, thank you very much for the well planned article, there is no doubt that backlinks will play a major role in ranking of keywords (Anchor text). But in my opinion, spending money on link building is not advisable than compared to the social media campaigns and web 2.0/RSS syndications

    avatar Ferry says:

    Totally science and knowledge about building good links to get started building and avoid bad link
    Thank you for sharing

    I find it true also that social media backlinks help Google ranking more than trading links with other businesses. However, I’ve had better success with Youtube videos. You can get a great Google ranking if you optimize your video and put a backlink from your Youtube video to your website.

    avatar bhavuk khandelwal says:

    @sagar ganatra ….. I think this article will help you for building links in 2014 http://www.techseotricks.com/2013/12/natural-ways-of-building-links-for-seo-in-2014.html

    Hi, Please I like to know how can you tell if your over optimizing a specific keyword?
    Is it when your links to that keyword are higher than the 1st page ranking sites?
    And also from the article it seems we need to keep building links for the rest of our cyber lives?

    avatar wahyu says:

    If i joint in many forum and make link back to my website by put the link in my forum profile, Is it will be punish by google or not? thx

    Hi wahyu, you have asked a very niche question, well if you are building 100+ links by commenting in a single forum than it is not good but if you are building profile link and 2-3 links from valuable comments than it is okay, one thing to keep in mind that google does not recommend forum link building

    avatar Jamesrudy says:

    Thanks Erin for sharing your insight about link building issues in 2014 , keep up the good work .

    avatar VizTV Media says:

    HEy this is really good write up. After Google took action late last year it simple showed that lazy effortless efforts would get a SEO no where and to stay away form Black hat linking.

    Alot of SEOs would do good to read this.

    avatar ipankint says:

    How about link juice for nofollow and dofollow links?
    Are there any specific rules for that?

    These are extremely great tips. Thanks for the same. I wonder how Google finds out if the links are indeed built with white hat techniques or not.
    But I have also noticed that some webmasters aren’t willing to link to other sites in the same niche if the other site has low traffic or low page rank. And I have read tips where we are advised to link to sites and pages with high PR. How do we manage this after all?

    avatar Matt O'Gara says:

    I find it hilarious that one of the points mentioned is “relevancy” yet in the author’s bio she posts “She loves to see businesses like AquaPhoenix Scientific succeed on the web.”
    AquaPhoenix clearly being a non-relevant link. The whole article written just for that link – hmmmm?

    avatar bhavuk khandelwal says:

    Completely agree with you Matt

    avatar Ritesh Reet says:

    Hello Adrienne Erin – Once again a great informative article by you 🙂

    You are right, Now a days google prefer links which are build through link diversity and it must look like a natural link. Link Building now a days is not a easy tasks for spammers.

    Thank you for the article. Although the links on my blog are few in number, I am proud that I got them all manually and naturally.

    avatar Rajesh says:

    Hi Adrienne Erin,

    Thanks for giving valuable thoughts. I have a question for you –

    Is sponsored post worthy or not? If yes, how. If no, why?

    Please let me know your views.

    Waiting
    Rajesh

    The post is really helpful in link building. But the crux of the problem is how you can build a good back link. Social linking is easy, but are they good enough? Editorial links are difficult to get. Unless your content spreads, it is hard to get a backlink.

    Also writing good content is not everybody’s cake. So still the 100$ question is how you do back-linking? I recently found a link building strategy that should be helpful in this regard.

    avatar Greg says:

    Yes sure, Link building is not good in 2014.

    avatar sandybrown says:

    wow!!! it’s really amazing discussion.link building is a good way to increase your site ranking.

    avatar HRSupport says:

    I believe that profile links are still valuable as long as they are on high DA domains.

    Additionally these domains should also have links pointed to them. Have used this technique for some of my clients and it’s worked, but of course with a mix of links profile.

    Thank you for the article. Although the links on my blog are few in number, I am proud that I got them all manually and naturally.

    avatar Ryan Ballow says:

    1. Of course link building is still valuable. It’s in fact, one of the overarching signals (still).

    2. People are buying links, and having “link building companies” build links for them, some of which are certainly not natural, but the companies are ranking quite well.

    3. The companies in #2 are outranking the companies that either aren’t building links, or are trying to build natural links.

    4. Try listening to the idea of building strictly good links, or “just creating good content” when you have a real life business that breathes off of cash flow, that you need primarily from the search engines (and their capacity to facilitate customer interaction w/ your company and thus, sales). You might end up in the nosebleed section.

    5. Build links. Try to not to make them super crappy.

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