If you’ve been at all involved with your site’s SEO over the past few years, it’s likely that link building has been an important part of your overall online marketing strategy. This is because Google has always placed such great importance on how many external sites link back to yours, as a determining factor for how relevant and important your site is to your niche. However, with increasing improvements to the sophistication with which Google determines site ranking, there has been some talk that link building is no longer as important. But is that really the case?
Google’s goal in recent years has been to create ranking algorithms that are more authentic, so that legitimate sites with quality, relevant content will always rank higher for any particular search term. These algorithm changes have been rolling out in stages, and will likely continue to do so, which means that over time, link building for its own sake will become less important compared to other factors.
That’s not to say that there will ever be a time when external links won’t help your ranking. On the contrary, it’s always good when people are talking about your products and services online, but as search engines get smarter, deliberately placed links will yield fewer and fewer rewards, and may even get you penalized.
It’s a better idea to focus on creating content that will prompt organic links, based on how helpful and authoritative what you have to say is. Sheer quantity of links is now less important than having links of higher quality, and search engines like Google are getting better at ascertaining just which links are “real” and which are manufactured. In other words, if you can build a handful of links through organic networking and quality content, that will hold more weight than if you have hundreds of “placed” links based on link exchanges or other deliberate link building techniques. Google’s goal has always been to give the best, most relevant search results, and as time goes on, your best bet for ranking highly is to be the best and the most relevant.
High-quality, authoritative content has always been and will always be king, and those who try to cheat the system by attempting to manufacture the appearance of authority will find themselves increasingly less successful as search engines become more sophisticated in their ranking methods. What steps are you taking to ensure that your online presence is reflective of your authority in your niche?