Why Link Building Needs to Be Part of Your Digital Marketing
Posted by Nikki Wardle on Jun 27, 2019 1:04:11 PM
It seems like every other day I’m getting an email about why link building is dead or a new strategy on how to do link building. I’ll admit, I don’t read about 90% of those emails (mostly because they’re from questionable sources). But every now and then, an email will have a catchy, humorous, or interesting subject line that beckons me to open. Most of the time, the email or link in the email is to hire that company to do link building. Slightly ironic considering we do that ourselves at Tribute Media, but also making their email irrelevant to me since I don’t need those services. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a step back.
What is Link Building?
A more general and technical definition would be that link building is the act of an individual trying to obtain backlinks (also known as external links) from reputable sites. Link building can be compared to a political candidate giving a speech, and you voting for them. The more votes a candidate has, the better their chances of winning a better ranking is.
What the kicker of that definition is are the words “act of,” or the methods you use to get backlinks.
History of Link Building 101
Way back in the 1990s, the big push was to buy 10, 20, even 100s of domain names, publish all of those websites to the world wide web and then create links on those little websites back to your main website. That tactic is now a big no-no in Google’s eyes, and you could get blacklisted. Some companies do this in the name of Affiliate Marketing, but that’s really not the purpose of Affiliate Marketing, so that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s still a no-no.
In the 2000s, link webs or link schemes were all the rage. The basic concept was to build a spider of links (usually paid links) to all different kinds of sites, no matter if they were related to your site’s topics, products or services. An example would be a shoe site connected to a coffee shop that would then connect to an electronics store site, who would then link to a blog about cooking and so on and so on. All of those sites would interconnect, thus building a web. Google got wise to this tactic and will, again, blacklist anyone who gets caught in these webs. If you don’t believe me, check out how Google punished JC Penney for the very same scheme.
Finally, the 2010s. At the start of that decade, the big push was blog commenting. The tactic was to find blogs that had to do with your product or service in some way, but were not necessarily a competitor, comment on their blog and then leave your URL, thus creating an external link. (See our example below) As you can guess, Google soon got wise to blog commenting and updated their algorithm to ignore any URL within a blog comment.
On the flip side, I don’t believe that genuine and thought-provoking blog commenting is dead. I know I have read several blog posts and followed the comments, then I clicked through on those links in the comments out of curiosity or interest in following up. It boils down to what drives real humans to click on links.
When comments are generic and have bad grammar, you know it’s a robot, or some link farm company trying to game the system. I can honestly say that I don’t approve about 50 comments a month for Tribute Media’s blog because they are so poorly written and way too generic.
How Link Building Should be Done
We've come a long way, and link building is now what it should have always been: a way to create data-rich and original content that people will naturally want to link to.
To give you a visual, let’s take a look at a few of Tribute Media’s more popular blog posts. First, You Have 7 Seconds: Grab Website Visitor’s Attention in Moments. This blog was published back in 2017 and has gained significant traffic over the past 18 months.
The blog has also gained inbound links from sites like neilpatel.com, semrush.com, forbes.com, huffingtonpost.com, and many more. The blog, when it was written, was new and thought provoking. Since it was published by us, many have somewhat plagiarized the content, but we were one of the first to introduce this concept, so we get the credit from Google.
Next let’s look at another blog post of ours, SEO vs. PPC: The Showdown. This post was originally written in 2015 and has since been updated multiple times because, well, Google changes the rules of engagement for SEO and PPC often. We continually strive to have our content remain relevant and current with best practices.
Since this post was published, it has done very well generating organic traffic and bringing in external links from sites like business2community.com, outbrain.com, extramilecommunications.com, and more.
Take a look at a blog post from Inc.com about How to Leverage Google’s AI to Rank Better in Search. This blog post has four external links and two internal links. The domain authority is currently at 92 (out of 100) so getting an inbound link from this site is a big deal. This blog author is only going to use resources that are well written and data-rich. Something all companies can learn from.
What Does This All Mean?
Major companies and brands are still blogging and linking to outside resources, which is proof that link building is still a very relevant part of search engine optimization. The take away from this should be that link building is still an important SEO tactic to include in your digital marketing strategy. Link building is a drop in the bucket of SEO, but get enough drops and your bucket will start to fill up!
Written by Nikki Wardle
Nikki has a degree in Marketing from Boise State University and worked as an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Tribute Media from 2014 to 2019. She's a Google Whiz and dog lover, now serving as a marketing director for a local veterinary clinic.