Link Expert Slams Linking StrategiesBy: WebProNews Staff - January 8, 2008
Eric Ward doesn’t mind pointing out that of the top ten Google results for "link building expert" his name pops up six times. Call it good keyword branding if you like, bust most in the SEO industry will tell you he’s earned his title. Because of that, it might sting a little more when he pens a lengthy I told you so about linking strategies.
Let’s bring the general thesis up first, and then get into Ward’s more biting remarks. If a webmaster is in the Google game for the long haul, then link building begins with quality content. This is an old mantra, one that has been pounded for some time. The real quality links that count are from reputable sources that develop naturally instead of by some type of scheme or manipulation.
Google likes those links the most. The rest are, at best, currencies quickly spent.
According to Ward, the rest would include directory links, which Google recently scrubbed from its index en masse. He asks, "Are you really going to tell me you are shocked that Google no longer thinks a link from link-o-matic, link-to-my-loo, and LinksForNoGoodReason.com are of any value? Please."
Ward says many link building practices are doomed to fail because they are manipulation-based. That goes for (indiscreet) reciprocal linking, article syndication, press releases, paid links, and yes, even link bait.
"Why did you think," he asks SEOers, "that any tactic predicated on a lie would work? Why would you trust any of those tactics and links as being credible in the first place? Did you use those same tactics on your own site, or just for clients?"
Trust is the only measure of a link that counts, then, and that trust begins with the author, the content producer.
Many of the comments on that article for SearchEngineLand are here-heres and amens. But there are points of contention also, especially regarding article submissions and link bait. On commentator notes that Ward has thrown just about every tactic out the window without being clear on what’s left besides the good old-fashioned grunt work.
And that seems to be what Ward was getting at, and most likely what Google’s looking for. And certainly Google’s chief Webspam fighter Matt Cutts takes reputation pretty seriously, as evidenced in an interestingly timed blog post about his theory that black-hatters (which would include link schemers) are questionable in other aspects of business:
"For a while now, I’ve had a slight hunch that clients that embrace blackhat SEO on their site are willing to cut corners in other areas of business as well. Earlier today I was reviewing an email from 2001 (!) where Google removed a very large company’s website from our index for hidden GIF links, machine-generated doorway pages, and cloaking. It’s interesting to look back with the benefit of hindsight now. Later on, the company:
– had 10+ employees convicted for inflating revenue
– the CEO was sentenced to 10+ years in jail
– another executive was sentenced to 2+ years in jail"
So, for what it’s worth no matter how hard to swallow for some, Ward and Cutts seem to be in tune about how quality links come from trustworthy, reputable sources that play fair.