Link building has become an increasingly dirty word over the last couple of weeks, months and years (depending how far back you look), and many digital marketers have began to simply ‘leave the court’ when it comes to the once quick-win strategy. This became particularly clear during Nottingham’s first ‘Drink: Digital marketing meet-up’ event late last month.
During the event, which brought together many of Nottingham’s digitally inclined minds, there was an overwhelming buzz around Google’s site-wide penalties applied through the now apparently nasty practice of link building. But is it really fair to assume that all link building results in site-wide penalties? And should digital marketers give up on the practice all together?
Over at Moz they seem to disagree (and I’m with them). Last Friday they released their weekly whiteboard Friday discussing ‘The rules of link building’. Cyrus Shepard used a brilliant analogy, comparing link building to a game of basketball. He considered Google to be the referee, giving people fouls and penalties. Some players (digital marketers) are getting frustrated and simply walking off the court (stopping link building all-together). As Shepard explains, link building is still a huge part of Google’s algorithm, and people are stopping because they don’t know the rules.
Whilst Cyrus goes on to explain five do’s and don’ts (which you should totally listen to) I’m going to sum it up in two words…
By ‘be natural’ I mean don’t try to scale up a natural link building exercise. Stick to the low quantity but high quality links that might take six to twelve months to develop – These are the types of link that Google won’t punish. Scaling this up will quickly become black hat SEO (in Google’s eyes, at least). Not asking for specifics (particularly anchor text) in your process will keep the process as natural as possible. Don’t forget Google’s strapline: “Don’t be evil”. Keep to this mantra and I predict there will be no site-wide penalties in sight.
A great way to stay natural is to focus on content distribution. By getting your content out to more people not only will you generate more natural links but you’ll also get your content viewed by more people, which is the end goal anyway. It’s also beneficial as you’ll receive higher quantity traffic (note quantity not quality) as the links to your site will be more relevant.
So, stay on the court and follow the rules – Not only for today’s game but tomorrow’s game too. After all, it’s good to win the game, but even better to win the tournament.