Should Businesses Earn or Build Their Links?

by Guest Author on January 16, 2018

in Articles, Guest Posts

The short answer? Ideally, both! However, while both link building and link earning have their place in any marketing strategy for a modern business, they are means to the same end, and have been forced to change drastically in the past couple of years.

We’re talking about the famous Google updates. In the Land Before Panda, link building was less scrutinized, while ever since the update, search engines have become much better at spotting “spammy” links, and posts that contain them; as well as in seeing through link schemes and penalizing websites for the poor attempts to broaden their portfolio of backlinks.

Since these penalties and ranking plummeting cannot be reversed overnight, and over 95% of all penalization happens precisely due to poor backlink practices, it’s better to stick to strategies that are allowed and rewarded than to attempt to heal from Google’s wrath.

There’s a fine line between well-crafted backlinking tactics that are still allowed by search engines, and those that aren’t; but many marketers are blurring and crossing this line every day, in an attempt to become or stay visible in the increasingly competitive online game. And that is precisely why we’re entering the era of link earning.

Stay inside the Penguin box for link-building

Think about it as your high-quality, minimalist, sustainable wardrobe. You’re both doing your environment a favor (giving valuable content in this case), and yourself (enabling your portfolio to grow through quality), while simultaneously keeping up with the times. Although it has been clear for some time now that less is more in terms of backlinks, your 2018 SEO strategy should certainly reflect this more than ever.

Meaningful, diverse and consumer-focused content that aims to solve real problems and offer real value still holds the throne when it comes to ranking, even when optimized to deliver backlinks – but quality and moderation of link building are key. Overly optimized content, posting comments that are completely out of context and don’t add value, irrelevant, poorly written guest posts and similar tactics will only damage your rankings.

So, old link-building strategies still apply, but it’s not the what that’s being brought under scrutiny, it’s the how that matters most, and Google can spot a subpar post, or a spammy comment from a mile away, and rest assured, it will not stay unpunished. Instead, nurturing relationships over social media, both with your influencers and your customers, offering quality instead of quantity and staying relevant are top priorities for businesses of all sorts.

Ultimately, it may take more time for you to earn the trust of an influencer before they allow you to guest post on their website, or find a whole slew of relevant websites that will get your business in front of the right target audience, but it will produce results that no shady link building ever could. And even more importantly, it will also prevent penalization, so you won’t have to worry about repercussions and finding the right recovery methods in the event Google finds your link-building methods unacceptable.

Mastering link-earning

The previously listed criteria that affect your link-building efforts and ranking are also closely intertwined with the notion of earning organic links. In a rush to get more visibility in less time, marketers used to build their portfolios by cramming in all sorts of links and reaching out to barely active or “junk” websites, simply because numbers were all that mattered.

However, in the post-Panda times, along with other Google algorithm updates on the way, becoming a valued voice online through high-authority websites, organic, natural mentions, and posting content that is as fun, engaging and as useful as possible to please your consumers and impress your peers, is the crown-worthy marketing strategy. With the online community rapidly blooming, more relevant bloggers, Instagram stars and YouTube influencers creating their networks, it’s only natural you’d want a piece of such a tremendous virtual pie.

Just like content is slowly transitioning from predominantly written to highly-visual, earning links is becoming the preferred of the two popular strategies, at least by Google and other search engines. And this should come as no surprise, since personal recommendations now shape shopping decisions far more than ads – in fact, the latter are more likely to deter your potential customers from ever becoming your loyal brand-lovers.

Social media are the main outlet for sharing personal experiences, rating businesses and stating your opinions, and just like we are more likely to trust our friends and family and their choices, we’re are more inclined to trust a celebrity or a popular blogger makeup review than the promise stated on the bottle. So, earning links is yet another tendency that shows just how much we prefer transparent, personal and organic as opposed to ad-rich and “detached” content.

Finding the balance

Just like links are not created equal, neither are any two businesses. If you are selling gear for adventure-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, you cannot possibly expect to use the same SEO tactics as a local bakery. The former will likely aim for a global market, while the latter will focus on methods to raise awareness in the neighborhood.

They appeal to a vastly different category of people, although they might have some overlaps, but the price range, the frequency and purpose of shopping will differ to a great extent. You don’t buy durable waterproof shoes every day, while a bagel for breakfast can be your daily ritual. A single bad review might not ruin the bakery, but if the shoes don’t live up to the promise on the box, your reputation will probably suffer.

Link-building and link-earning both have their risks, benefits and potential downsides. The fact that you spend weeks working on your several-thousand-words-long article, best one in your library, doesn’t guarantee it will go viral or produce enough backlinks from authority sources. Even if it gets mentioned, you might need to ask for the actual link. On the other hand, if Google interprets your link-building effort as inappropriate, your business will suffer.

Link building gives you a greater level of control to choose where your content is shared and in what context, while link earning may both take you to the stars, and risk rattling some cages. However, a single piece of content, whether it’s a powerful infographic with numerous cited studies, a video, or a how-to blog, can become your natural link earning machine, while you need to put in continuous effort to achieve the same results with link-building.

A single SEO approach cannot replace a well-designed, multi-tiered, flexible and monitored strategy that is based on your target audience’s preferences, your brand identity and your expertise. Therefore, it’s high time this dilemma which is as old as digital marketing stopped being an “either-or” question, but a debate tailored to each business and meant to help you reach your own brand-specific goals through a combination of both.

Guest article written by: Dan Radak is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and regular contributor to Technivorz.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Arsl OBG January 16, 2018 at 15:13

Thanks Dan ,

I agree with you. but most of peoples sharing links on dead websites which also use less. What I suggestion link building should be on strong websites. I recommend PBN.

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