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Why are People Afraid to Link Build? – Here’s Why with Mark & Eric

In this episode of Here’s Why, Eric and Mark discuss the history of Link Building. A lot of people are afraid to do link building anymore, especially after Matt Cutts and Co. came down on it pretty hard as a marketing strategy.
However, link building is more about brand building these days. When done correctly it is still a viable and legitimate practice. Let Eric and Mark help with the best ways to approach it.

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If you want to check out any of the articles or sites referenced in the video you can find them all here:

Google recommends nofollowing links on press releases, widgets and infographics
Matt Cutts: “Stick A Fork In It, Guest Blogging Is Done”
Is there a version of Google that excludes backlinks as a ranking factor?

Full Transcript:

Eric: Welcome to another episode of Here’s Why!
Mark: Eric, why are people afraid to link build?
Eric: That’s a great question Mark. A lot of things have happened in the last year, one of those, is Google published guidelines that started to tell people that press releases are bad for links, they started talking about widgets being bad for links, and they even talked about infographics potentially being bad for links. Those guidelines were a bit fuzzy, but the message was clear: they saw lots of people doing things they didn’t like.
And then there was Matt Cutts’ famous blog post of January 20, 2014, in which talking about guest posting for SEO, he said, “Stick a fork in it.” That does not sound like a ringing endorsement for the practice of guest blogging for SEO. These things have made people afraid of building links. It has also made them think that Google might not be using it in their algorithm anymore. That is not the case. Not too long ago Matt Cutts did a video where he explained that they tested an algorithm without links as part of it and essentially they gave up on it because it was far worse in terms of results.
Mark: So if Google still uses and needs links, how do we go about getting links that Google will like?
Eric: There’s two different things you can do. First of all, we all like this idea of being direct and going out and asking for links; you have to be very careful about that these days. What you really want to start to think about is, if im going to ask someone to link to my site, is that link going in a place where you might actually get traffic from it. In other words, it’s the same kind of thing you might do if you were marketing your business even if the Google algorithm wasn’t there.
That is a very important headset to have. Another part of is it is not about volume of links, it’s about quality of links. You have to use that as a guideline. I think perhaps even more important and more powerful, is an indirect approach to building links. That is, you build up a strong social media presence, a strong reputation in the industry, and maybe you are doing guest posting, but in the form of guest columns on people’s sites as a way of building your reputation and your following.
That way when you start to publish good content on your blog you can share it on social media, you will have built an audience with people through your various activities and then people will share it with others, which can draw links to it. This indirect method of building links is extremely powerful and sounds a bit like PR in some sense. There is definitely a strong relationship there, although I do think there are some technical things you can do which would go beyond that of a PR firm.
Mark: So to sum up, if you’re getting links out there, make sure it’s on a place where it’s relevant and the link drives relevant traffic to your site. But it’s even better if you can create an atmosphere where you are attracting links and people want to link to your content.
Eric: Absolutely. That’s the way you should think about it these days.
Mark: Great tips Eric, Thanks! And please join us again.

Thoughts on “Why are People Afraid to Link Build? – Here’s Why with Mark & Eric”

  1. As Google adapt I suppose we must also question our tactics, in the present sense, and then how Google might view those Seo strategies in future and if Matt Cutt’s says stick a fork in it I’m listening. Cheers for the insights lads I will be following your updates via G+

  2. Hi Guys! You’ve got a very informative post in here that is worth to read many times.. Some webmasters are still doing the old techniques of building links unaware of the new Google standard. But I can’t blame those webmasters especially those who invested too much time and money for the succeed of their online campaign. Google’s standard changes rapidly for the common good – and that’s one thing a webmasters should consider and be aware of. Just be aware and always keep updated – having that, link building is nothing to be afraid of.

  3. Nice post. Link building is not bad. It depends how you did it using black or white hat. I always prefer link building via white hat techniques and traffic increases daily on my site.

  4. Awesome video Eric and Mark! Totally agree about the similarities between a PR campaign and a link building campaign (at least in terms of outreach). I also think that asking yourself if a link will bring traffic is a valuable rule of thumb.

  5. Even seasoned SEOs still don’t seem to get it: there is one over-arching thing Google tries to excel at: the best ONE search result for the user’s search question. If they could ascertain that, then most results (SERPs) would contain one or ten links at the most. So when Cutts says guest posting is dead he means those posts that were done to game the SERPs. So they want to get a higher listing in the SERPs than -based on their content answering Google’s most pressing question above- they deserve. And Google then tries to purge that erroneous result from the list and “restore” order. This leads to algorithm changes that then end in a lot of “stranded investments” in time and money in “obsolete” link building and other SEO activities. But we can all see, where Google is headed: finding that elusive ONE (or few) answer(s) to the searchers’ questions. If we don’t bother at all (!) about SEO in the dated sense but focus only (!) on the content, we might not get quick results but … if my reasoning is right, like with Shakespeare who prevails where hundreds of his contemporary “competitors” have waned into oblivion, you will see your OLD content rise a little in rankings each time Google closed another SEO “loophole”.

  6. These are great tips Eric and Mark. However, it is still not clear, whether Google considers social media for their search ranking, I mean facebook, twitter etc., Google Plus may be a factory, but I wanted to know about other social media accounts.

  7. I have gone to the idea of using social media for back links. I do know that using Pinterest for a client generated a lot of good organically grown links that helped in search results. Further proof for me that good content works, if not always right away.
    I have also asked good authority sites for back links for another client. One client was determined to add back links that way. In sales it’s the equivalent of cold calling, and it’s not at all productive.
    From my own experiences, social media seems ideal for this. For this reason alone, I sometimes fear Google will somehow kill it off.

  8. Relevancy and the quality are two most important factors of link building. A diversified link profile with mix of anchor texts, nofollowe dofollow links, different quality link sources is good and safe. Personally I do not bother about nofollow or dofollow, I care more about the content relevancy and value addition.
    Thanks for sharing this post.

  9. Hi all, thanks for the post and the useful questions and comments. So I have a photography site that is 100% legit, (it’s in the website field, not going to mention it again here necessarily), I’m a full time photographer but I’m trying to push up the rankings again.
    I did a site redesign myself mid-year and I don’t know what I did wrong exactly, (probably lots of things), but it killed my ranking completely and I’m floating down near 100 again.
    This might be a fairly obvious question but when I check ahrefs and Moz, and others, I find that there are a ton of links there from a particular site (seobythesea) , even though I only posted a couple of comments there. They are nofollow.
    Can I get anyone’s opinion here on whether that’s an issue, because I notice all you guys have your URL listed here (when I mouseover your names) – you obviously don’t believe it’s an issue, or you wouldn’t do that?
    Also, I have a few directory links, which I’m told are possibly toxic, but they are photography and business specific. Also, some others that I know are legit (Yelp, Yalwa, my Tumblr blog amongst others) don’t show up anywhere. I’ve just got them going in the last 6 weeks or so, should I just wait for them to show up on their own?
    I’m a noob at this really, and if anyone would care to offer any advice or run their professional eye over my link profile I would certainly appreciate it and take it on board.
    I can be emailed direct at jon@thewebsitewhenyoumouseovermyname if that’s a help.
    If you got this far into this comment, thanks!
    Much appreciated,

  10. Fully satisfied with the para “it is not about volume of links, it’s about quality of links. You have to use that as a guideline. I think perhaps even more important and more powerful, is an indirect approach to building links. That is, you build up a strong social media presence, a strong reputation in the industry, and maybe you are doing guest posting, but in the form of guest columns on people’s sites as a way of building your reputation”. That thing actually matters.

  11. I agree link building should be about brand building and offering the user useful information. You also want to focus on getting relevant traffic from the links and you will only do this if the place you are adding content is relevant to the industry you are trying to promote.

  12. Hey guys great video! I agree I think that link building is something that needs to be carefully done. I think it is important that you build links in your nice or industry as opposed to posting in a beauty blog if your niche is marketing.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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