The rules for SEO can be confusing. Some say the keys to great SEO are cranking out content and focusing on link-building (the “fake it” method).Others advocate that quality content reigns king.
So, which is it? Well, when it comes to SEO, quality always wins.
What is Link-Building?
Links act as the roads between webpages, providing consumers the most direct route to related content. In short, link-building is a method that involves publishing links on other websites that link back to a company’s content – usually using a keyword relevant to the business. The number of links a website has “linking in,” and the words used to describe that link, impacts how often – and where – webpages show up in search results.
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A decade ago, link-building was the primary ingredient for successful SEO. In the current SEO landscape, search engines are smarter. Traditional link-building from low-quality sites is outdated, and it can actually be harmful to your business.
Does Focusing on Link-Building Hurt Businesses?
Businesses tend to focus on link-building because they think it’s the fastest way to generate website traffic – and it seems like an easy fix. There are two reasons why link-building is no longer the best option for businesses:
Businesses can be penalized for link-building. While Google has always said it penalizes low-quality links, the search engine had not taken much action to reprimand link schemers until the Penguin update in April 2012. Since the update, search engines have severely penalized sites that use low-end link-building schemes.
Search engines are smarter. They understand that the chances of 10,000 web directories linking to your website overnight are unlikely. They also understand that if you have 10,000 web directories linking to your website, you should also have thousands of links to other websites. Modern link-building is now an art of diversifying links to be as organic as possible.
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Because of these updates, hundreds of low-quality SEO companies have fallen apart rapidly, and their clients’ once-high search result rankings have dropped, too. The era of link-building is over.
The Era of Link-Earning and Content Marketing
Link-earning focuses on building high-quality links, which means that linked content has to be valuable. The links generated from quality content happen more slowly, but users are more likely to link to the content if they feel it is a good resource. This means websites need to market content, rather than simply send out links.
Here are three ways companies can improve their content marketing, drive more traffic to their websites, and earn links:
Update your blog regularly. The best way to build a following is to keep an updated blog and push content out through social media and RSS feeds. People will link to your content if you have worthwhile insights into things happening within your industry.
Produce industry-relevant articles. No one knows your business like you. My suggestion to all companies endeavoring to become industry leaders is to produce as many educational, industry-relevant articles as possible. People will naturally link to – and share – content they think others should read.
Create infographics. This type of content allows companies to communicate useful information in a visual format. They help make statistics and numbers more interesting, and communicating information in visually intriguing formats is a great way to market your content.
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When trying to build SEO or when working with SEO companies, avoid link-building and focus on content marketing. Though your growth results may be slower, you will better establish your website as a valuable resource.