Fast-forward to a post-Penguin world, link building has become far more risky than it used to be a couple of years ago, rendering many of the older strategies completely unusable or even harmful. But despite the major changes brought by the Penguin algorithm update, link building hasn’t changed as much as most brands think. While it’s accepted wisdom that businesses should never use paid links or link exchange networks (both categorized as link schemes) to acquire backlinks, the core principles of link building are generally the same in 2015.
So what is the truth about backlinks, and how much has link building changed over year? We’ll be covering this last question in the material below.
Link Building Principles Haven’t Changed
The core principles of link building haven’t changed much – dare we say they haven’t changed at all. Brands need to deserve links, either for an asset they create, such as a highly valuable blog post, or for a product or service they offer. When Google rolled out the Penguin update in April 2012, brands that were caught spamming search engine results with unnatural, poor-quality links were literally banished. Some were penalized and had their PageRank, page authority, and search ranking lowered exponentially, which led to getting significantly less exposure, traffic, and sales. Some were completely de-indexed.
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But in addition to deserving links, brands also need to put their assets or products in front of an audience that may be interested in them, and share them further, without any intervention in this process. What’s more, consistency is paramount to keeping your audience engaged and earning links. Ultimately, anything that scales is at risk, so doing everything at a relatively slow pace is of utmost importance.
With these four link building principles in mind, companies can start implementing strategies that adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines while addressing their audience’s crave for fresh and valuable content.
Signals Around Link Building Have Changed
“The signals around link building have changed, but mainly around new machine learning developments that have indirectly affected what we do,” states Moz’s Paddy Moogan.
More companies are finally realizing that, in order for their websites to succeed, low-quality link building is no longer a solution. Spammy links are still working in the short-term and they will probably always work, but sustaining websites that are built on spam is more difficult than it used to be before Penguin. That’s why spammers prefer churning “through lots of domains, making a small profit on each one, then moving onto another,” according to Moogan. A quality digital marketing agency Sydney, Australia won’t attempt to boost your website’s authority and exposure by populating it with low-quality links, that’s for sure.
In the long-term, businesses should be focusing on content marketing in order for their efforts to be successful. As a matter of fact, the Penguin algorithm update is one of the most notable factors that contributed to the rise of content marketing - and rightly so.
We had the easiest link building methods taken away partly because they worked, and Google didn’t like this. In today’s post-Penguin world, we are left with fewer options – and the most notable one is content marketing. If done correctly, content marketing can help businesses earn good-quality links that will ultimately help them rank higher in search engines, and outshine competing companies that don’t have a solid content marketing strategy yet. Get it wrong and you will lose not only your budget, but also time and credibility, the latter being one of the most important things Google cares for.
So What’s the Plan?
Since Google is giving more weight to websites with a solid content marketing strategy, the brands should start implementing various plans for publishing high-quality content, and getting this content out to their target audience. First, high-quality content gives them an asset that deserves to be shared, thus increasing their number of backlinks. Second, content marketing involves content distribution and promotion, which gives companies the opportunity to find people who may be interested in their assets, and share or link back to them.
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It’s important to keep your strategy consistent and publish content on a regular basis in order for your strategy to work. Creating assets consistently means giving your users reasons to post links back to your website, thus helping you rank higher and giving you more authority in search results.
Louise Cruise has been in the SEO industry for the past ten years and has worked with several digital marketing agencies. Her expertise allows her to help create unique solutions to her clients’ marketing concerns.