Is Link building truly losing its value?
by Al Gomez
Rumors about the death of link building is all over the world of SEO for many years now. However, SEO practitioners including those who got a big name in the field have varying opinions about link building. For some it is still alive but more challenging while others believe that link building is alive yet losing its value. There is a rising debate whether links still weigh a dime in search engine algorithms.
Rand was brave enough to go out and say that links will always be there for the next five or ten years to come. In his article for his Whiteboard Friday entitled “Are Links Losing Value in Google’s Algorithm?“, he is one of those SEO gurus who believe that links are the core foundation of the Google algorithm. The weight differs depending on how you earned the link but still the links weigh a lot and considered as a ranking element in Google.
In addition, he demonstrated how link building in SEO changed over time. That from getting links anywhere, SEO becomes more focused and relevant. He also mentioned about no follow links from social media and other ways where links are gained in an instant. In a snapshot, Rand provided different links that can benefit the websites and push it up for the ranks.
- No follow Links from Social Media
- Relevant links
- Links from Content
- Editorial Links
A decade ago, links are merely considered spam that are built anywhere on the web. This theme links gained diversity. Yes, the links are still included in the ranking elements of Google but it is the type of links that you build that matters the most. Whiteboard tells us that editorial links must gain more weight in the future. What does it suggest? The links are still alive. This topic will continue to cause stir in SEO. But if Matt Cutts confirms how links matter in the algorithm, believing it could be another option.
What would happen if in the future search engine will work without backlinks?
Perhaps, the speculations about the death of SEO that circulated for many years was started by Google itself. Matt Cutts confirmed that Google has tried search without links. He addressed the issue on “what if Google won’t consider backlinks in their search algorithm?” Yes, Google tried it out but the results were much worse. It only shows that without links Google can’t provide results that users expect, hence, a failure on their existence. But Elisa Gabbert figured out three interesting things about Google’s internal experiments with its algorithm:
1. Links are highly spammable and Google recognizes and understands it.
2. There can be other ranking elements or possible means to capture results
3. Link graph is still considered an effective way of ranking search results.
Links are alive, but what links do matter to Google? We all know that unnatural or spammy links can only destroy all campaigns of the website.
So, when does a link become beneficial to Google or website?
As long as link building strategies provide values, it can still be counted as a ranking factor in SERPs. Links should be earned because it has been useful both for the users and search engine. Should a link be there? Would I do this if there were no search engines?” That’s one thing you have to ask before you allow your link to be posted on the site. Relevance and authority are still great factors to keep your links valuable to your website. If the link simply wants to trick the algorithm of Google, get fired because you might end up choking with your own manipulation.
It is more appealing if your links have weight especially when it is built through the content. It should be qualitative because quantity is no longer your friend.
What awaits the link building strategy?
It is highly interesting to know that there can be other ways to capture results (as Google already tried it). Matt Cutts stressed that “for now” backlink relevance should still be included in the ranking elements. However, I believe that a time will come when it will also be completely devalued in the algorithm. As Darmesh Sha has said:
I’ve long advocated that people focus more on the content, experience and brand than “tactical” SEO. It seems that the long-term winners in the SEO race are those that deliver a positive experience to users, create useful content and get the “basics” right in terms of crawlability and such. Everything else always seems to be a short-term boost, because the algorithm keeps changing so much. The thing I like to keep in mind is that Google (and the other engines) are simply trying to calculate what content searchers want to see (i.e. what they consider high value). That’s what the algorithm is trying to proxy. In my mind, SEO is basically HHO (Human Happiness Optimization).
As an SEO expert myself, I always watch out for the changes in the rankings of my website in Google’s SERP. I would honestly say that I am still doing link building because it still provides results for the websites I handled. However, I don’t stick with a simple link building because I believe that Google values diversity strategies like a plate of meal where different foods are in. It is tastier and better if you have many strategies for your websites.
As to the issue whether the link is losing its value or not, I believe that links are still alive and has not totally lost its value through time. It only passes a thin line of passage way until it reaches the finish line where Google can finally say it passes and considered valuable for a website. From one link, we have known links that are built and links that are earned. And Google seemed to value the LINKS that are earned.
Have some thoughts? Please share it below.
March 12, 2018