Link Expert Slams Linking Strategies

By: 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.

Link Expert Slams 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 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.

WebProNews Staff

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  • Karen Carpenter

    “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.”

    This is paranoia at its best! My three sites that are in the jewelry, software, and information technology markets and do very well in rankings and are almost solely promoted with relevant reciprocal links. Been doing it for 9 years and will continue to do so. I dont give a rats ass what this link expert or a search engine says. I will link exchange with whatever sites improve my site visitor’s experience.

  • Better Search Engine Rank

    Yes seo and link building is not something you can cut corners with.  Black hat seo is less valuable today since the spam filters for the search engines are getting better and better.  Just take the time and do it correct the first time and dont waste your time with reciprical links( unless they make 100% sense for your customer) or black hat seo.

  • hemroids

    The biggest problem with these kinds of messages is threefold:

    1. They are not entirely accurate. Google has and will continue to reward links; even ones created by manipulation. SEOs have simply gotten smarter about the kid of manipulation that is occurring.

    2. They do not seperate what I would call ehtical reciprocal linking from ‘let’s game the search engines’ linking. There is a big difference between the two – intention – and it is easy to spot when Google guages link build speed etc.

    There is, and never will be, an issue with a website building, by hand, quality reciprocal links that they have editorially reviewed.

    3. Links, and how they are assessed, change daily.

  • Internet Marketing SEO Website Strategy

    Something is wrong here.  What’s wrong with ethical linkbuilding campaigns were links are gotten naturally and through accepted practices?

    If I leave a link back to my site, I hope that someone would visit and find the information that I promote meaningful.

    Internet & Website Marketing SEO Strategy

  • Home Remedies

    Excellent comment Eric. I truly believe in finding links that match the value of the content you are presenting. People have, do and always will link to good content. Make your content VERY unique and contact the hard to get links and watch them come on in.

    Unfortunately, much too much non-unique content is at the top of the SERPs because of paid links.

    And, to boot, the message about not paying for links only hits the small business owner and not the big spender, who knows very well the value in rankings one can get from ‘carefully’ selected paid links.

  • SEO Company

    The best way to build links is to create link-able content, and every good SEO and Marketer knows this.

    The best way to leverage content and links is to make the user feel as though they want to follow through and buy products and services, without being pushy.

    Since the new age of SEO is entirely about Web Analytics, conversions and sales (and not necessarily high rankings) it makes sense to say that the better performing SEO’s are finding great links, but are also creating viral campaigns aimed at ultimate conversions and not necessarily targeted anchor text.

  • Loose Gemstones

    I would agree, trust is key in most situations in terms of inbound links. Also, build links that do not pass as paid links – links from editorial content are best.

  • Hotels

    I think what happens is that many businesses hire companies who do not want to spend the real time and effort it takes to achieve great inbound links. At the same time, 95% of the internet is simply rehashed information, so it is very difficult for webmasters to want to link around.