For some reason, link building has become something of a taboo phrase in the search community. Well, in some circles at least. But the reality is, link building really is necessary if you want to build your domain authority and advance your search ranks in any meaningful way—seriously!
There are a few different camps of these link building shamers, some of which genuinely believe it’s harmful, some of which are new and don’t know any better, and some of which are practicing link building under a different name just so they can go along with the crowd.
So let’s take a look at why link building gets so much hate, why it shouldn’t, what it is and isn’t, and why it’s necessary for a modern online marketing campaign. Phew.
Why Link Building Gets So Much Shit
Okay, so link building gets a ton of hate mostly because of the practices it used to be associated with. If you take the term too literally, in reference to the tactics that developed its namesake, you might actually be right in writing off the strategy. Old-school link building was a nasty business—basically, Google’s algorithm calculated your site’s authority based on the number of links pointing back to your domain, so as long as you kept building new links in new places, you’d keep climbing higher in ranks for relevant search queries.
Thankfully, Google implemented a series of quality checkers (including Penguin in 2012) to fight back against link spam; these penalized practitioners of shady and manipulative link building practices. But too many people took this update as a sign that links could no longer be built, or that any effort to get links should be avoided altogether, when in fact, there are new approaches to link building that fit perfectly into Google’s quality system while still getting you the link-based authority you need to rise in rank.
Two Forms of Modern Link Building
Google’s system of calculating authority is still based on backlinks, so you need those backlinks if you want to grow—the trick is to shoot for quality over quantity, making sure your links are natural and authoritative. Today, there are two major tactics that can accomplish this safely:
- Link attraction. The idea here is to produce content that’s worthy of attracting links—in essence, viral content. You pour your sweat and tears into an original, exciting, valuable piece, circulate the hell out of it, and eventually, the links will come pouring in (at least, hypothetically—creating viral content’s a lot harder than most people think).
- Guest posting. This is a more manual process, so it’s more reliable, but it’s slightly riskier since if you do it incorrectly, you could get cited as building an unnatural link. The idea is to work with external publishers to provide high-quality “guest” content, or contribute to their sites and their audiences in some way, to earn links one at a time.
These descriptions are oversimplifications of what are, in fact, complex strategies. (I’ll dive into these at some point in the future). but the concepts alone should prove that modern link building is worlds away from the black-hat tactics link shamers think they’re criticizing.
Despite these “new” forms of link building, a number of misconceptions about the link building process still remain:
- Google penalties. Many people have a perpetual and gripping fear of an incoming Google penalty. It’s true that if you egregiously or maliciously try to manipulate your rank, you can be blacklisted, but trust me—this isn’t going to happen to you by accident. Instead, the worst that can happen is a temporary setback in your domain authority, and if you follow proper procedures, you have nothing to worry about at all.
- It’s unnecessary. Some people believe that link building is wholly unnecessary to earn higher ranks in search engines. This simply isn’t true; backlinks are one of the most important factors for calculating domain authority.
- It could damage your reputation. Look, link building is only a dirty word because so many people insist it is. I’m a proud link builder. You should be too.
- It requires underhanded shit. There’s no need to do anything shady, manipulative, sneaky, or questionable when you build links—really! Work hard to develop good content, give readers what they want to see, build relationships with good publishers, and the rest will take care of itself. In fact, let me say…
Modern Link Building Is All About Relationships
This is true. Link building is about building a better reputation for yourself improving your relationships with other publishers, authorities, and readers in your space. Provide better content, do some favors, and don’t be a dick—you’ll get a healthy stream of links in no time.
Even if link building was a bit risky, the benefits are too damn good to pass up:
- You’ll get your brand featured in more publications and in front of more people.
- Reputation by association. When you get featured in higher-authority publications, you’ll become more trustworthy to your key clientele.
- Referral traffic. The links you build, if prominent enough, will forward tons of referral traffic to your site directly.
- Organic search ranks. As I’ve already mentioned, building more links will help your authority rise, which will earn you higher ranks and more organic search traffic.
- Social traffic and audience. When you syndicate your offsite content (or “link attraction” content), you’ll earn tons of social traffic and new followers for your brand.
Okay, so I’ve talked a big game for link building as being a safe, relatively easy way to boost your site’s authority and win you this host of other benefits. But the truth is, it’s not that easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to build the relationships that matter, and you have to maintain that effort indefinitely if you want to continue growing.
Fortunately, there are people like us willing to help you out. At dopplepop, we can help you write the content and forge the relationships you need to help your brand grow. Are you ready to find out how? Contact us!