Link building is incredibly important to a successful SEO strategy. In fact, Google’s most preliminary technology, detailed in their very first patent, “Method for Node Ranking in a Linked Database,” relied very heavily on links to determine site quality, and it still does to this day. As the patent says, “The rank assigned to a document is calculated from the ranks of documents citing it.”
So Google and other search engines rely on inbound links (links pointing to your website from other/external websites) to, at least in part, determine how trustworthy your content is. This aspect of their ranking technology is often referred to as “PageRank.”
What has changed over the years is how strict Google is about how you’re permitted to “build,” or grow the amount of, links that point to your site. According to Google’s current link guidance…
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
So, basically, this is saying that you’re not allowed to do ANYTHING to intentionally manipulate the number of other websites that link to your website.
Therefore, the only by-the-book way to “build” links is to “earn” them.
Earning links naturally is not easy, but is absolutely doable, through the following activities:
- Good content marketing (publishing content regularly on your website that your target audience would find genuinely useful, educational, and helpful)
- Promoting that content through strong social media and public relations efforts, so that more people see it and react to it, either through social sharing or linking to your site
- Generating unique market research reports that news outlets would find interesting, and pitching them to link to your data as the source of their stories about it
- Establishing real-world relationships with other organizations that naturally lead to the acquisition of links (for example, joining a Chamber of Commerce, or offering scholarships and internships to students at a local university)
- Any similar activity that does NOT involve manually creating or buying links that point to your site
Taking all of this into account, our stance at Pam Ann Marketing is that we do NOT offer our clients any form of manual link building services. We simply encourage our clients to have strong content marketing, social media, public relations, and “real world” relationship marketing strategies and partnerships in place.
We do; however, assist clients in generating their content marketing strategies through SEO keyword research and editorial calendar management, where we help clients come up with article topics that their target audience is searching for and keyword optimization strategies for each article. This makes each and every piece of content marketing more findable on the web, and more likely to naturally earn links in the non-manual way that Google demands.
We also educate our clients on the dangers of ignoring Google’s very strong and clear guidance about avoiding manual link building. Google has been on a mission, for many years now, to continually strengthen their algorithms’ ability to detect and penalize manual link building activity. If your site engages in such activity, it will be at a real risk of incurring a search engine penalty, and you will have to pay more to undo what you paid to have done, just to have the right to file a “reconsideration request” to beg Google to allow you back into their search engine. It’s a nightmare situation that we don’t want ANY client to EVER have to deal with.
We have even seen link networks (sources where inbound links can be purchased) hold website owners RANSOM when they incur a penalty and need their manually-built links taken down. They demand ridiculous fees to take down the links (that the website owner already paid them once to create) because they know that you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, and they have you in a uniquely desperate position where they can take advantage of you.
So the key takeaway here is to never, ever, ever build links manually. Simply focus on the good marketing practices outlined above to naturally earn links in a safe way that will never leave you “kicked out of Google.”