Link building was all the craze a few years back. People had this idea (many still do) that the more links going to their websites meant more traffic and better rankings. The reason for this was because it worked, pure and simple. Although Google’s Webmaster Guidelines has always prohibited unnatural link building, people continued to do so with great results.
Shady SEO firms capitalized on this by spamming you with e-mails with search engine optimization plans at ridiculously low prices (~US$250-$500) which include:
- 50 Directory Submissions
- 50 Social Book Marking Submissions
- 10 Article Submissions (1 article x 10 article directories)
- 10 Press Release Submissions (1 press release x 10 press release websites)
- Google Submissions
- 1 unique, 400 word article written
- 1 unique, 400 word press releases
- 15 One Way back links with mix PR
Fortunately and unfortunately, this doesn’t work anymore. Over the past couple years, huge sites such as eBay, and many other top ranking sites that engaged in unnatural link building practices ended up getting hefty penalties resulting in dramatic losses in search visibility. The reason for this is because Google had to first find out a way to sort through who all the cheaters were by developing an algorithm. You may have heard of Google’s Penguin Updates, Panda, and many more.
In my opinion, link-building is a thing of the past. It is no longer necessary to have a huge backlink profile to establish your site’s ranking credibility. My reasoning is simple. In Google’s eyes, it isn’t fair that just because a website has been around for longer and as accumulated more links over time, it should be able to outrank a newer, less established, but innovative company.
I’ve seen this happen time and time again with our clients who operate small businesses but out rank huge public companies. Without a doubt, it is easier for a website that has been around for longer to rank with less work on their website, however if a smaller company ensures their on-page SEO strategy is perfected, they can compete with anyone.
Take our site for example. We are ranking #6 nationally for ‘SEO Consulting Company’ which is one of the most competitive keywords on Google.
However, take a look at our ‘domain authority‘ which is the single biggest metric for a site’s ranking credibility. The definition by Moz.com states: Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time. We calculate this metric by combining all of our other link metrics—linking root domains, number of total links, MozRank,MozTrust, etc.—into a single score.
Supreme Optimization only has a domain authority of 26. The reason for this is that we are still a very new company. Additionally, our domain authority is is the lowest of any other site on the first page, which on average is about 60-70. We only have 15 root domains (unique websites) linking to us. So how are we outranking the hundreds of other SEO companies which without a doubt have more backlinks than us?
#1) Acquire links from only quality websites. We don’t have any shady backlinks — only links coming from very reputable clients that we work with. For you, this might mean reaching out to all of your partners, suppliers, distributors and asking for a backlink. It doesn’t mean submitting your website’s URL to spam directories. Quality over Quantity.
#2) Fantastic SEO On-Page Optimization. We’ve spent a lot of time revising our website’s content to cater search engines while maintaining integrity for real visitors. Make sure to reach out to an SEO expert for this step because it is crucial for it to be setup correctly.
#3) Active Social Media accounts. Social media is the single best way for Google to track how relevant and active your website is. If people keep mentioning you on Twitter, and you keep providing great content through blog posts on your site to the world — Google will pay you dividends in the search engine world.
In summary, link building doesn’t carry the same weight that it used to. Google is looking for better ways to determine the relevancy of a given website instead of just examining how many backlinks it has. For your company, you should look to create fantastic blog content while acquiring quality links when possible.
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Author: Sheldon Zhai
Sheldon Zhai is an expert digital marketer with a background as a molecular biology researcher and product manager at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He’s the founder of Supreme Optimization, and loves spending his time testing and researching new data-driven online marketing strategies. Also he enjoys scuba diving, mountain trekking, and an insightful book combined with a cup of coffee.