You know how you've been building links to your website for years, trying to get Google look upon it more favorably? Well, according to Google, you shouldn't bother doing that.
Do you think there's still value to link building? Let us know in the comments.
Nearly an hour into a Google Webmaster Central Office Hours hangout on Friday, Google's John Mueller was asked whether or not link building, in any way, is good for webmasters.
Mueller's response (via Search Engine Roundtable) was, "That is a good question. In general, I’d try to avoid that. So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier. We do use links as part of our algorithms but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps." Emphasis added.
This part starts at about 55:40 into the following video:
We reached out to online marketer Ken McGaffin, who is widely known for his quality link building services, to get his thoughts on what Mueller said. We'll just give you McGaffin's words verbatim:
That all depends on the type of link building you're doing. Let's say I've just conducted a great piece of research for a client and my prime objective is to get them media coverage. The research and the accompanying press release was so good that it got coverage in the NYTimes, BBC and many others - good job done!
But my secondary objective is to get links - so AS WELL as conducting the research, and writing the press release, I make sure that the journalist has something to link to, something that his readers will appreciate. That could be:
- an in-depth blog post giving much more detail than the Journalist could give space to
- a presentation or infographic of the results
- a copy of the original research so that readers can check it out.
In this case, I'm doing my client a service in getting PR coverage. But I'm also doing my best to ensure that editorial links and others links will follow. I can only see Google looking positively on my efforts - because of the value it offers. But if all I did was the 'link building' part then I'd be doing my client a disservice - and missing some major opportunities. This means that any online marketing/PR initiative is multi-layered - and one of those layers must be link building.
There's no question that link building strategies have had to adapt to the changing search engine climate over the years. We recently had a great conversation with Eric Ward (another prominent name in link building) about that.
"Many people feel the very act of pursuing links has become evil, which is sad because it’s not even close to true. In 1994 nobody gave any thought to the idea that a link to a website could be a bad thing," he told us. "The entire concept of a poisoned link profile is simultaneously comic and tragic. Links are not ‘things’. Links are not imbued with the quality of Good or Evil. Links are the visible manifestation of a human’s action and opinion, and in some cases, intent.”
“I guess if I had to boil down the biggest change of all from a strategy standpoint it would be in trying to help people realize that it is incredibly easy compared to the old days to get URLs to migrate or propagate across the web," he said. "What I mean by that is today everyone is a Link builder, they just don’t see themselves that way, and many linking strategists overlook this.”
If you really want to dig into how linking and link building has changed over the years, I suggest the rest of our conversation.
How has your linking strategy changed over the years? Please discuss in the comments.