I recently sat through an interesting webinar with a panel of well-known link building experts from a prominent link building company. The topic was Google’s recent Penguin update, a hot subject these days.
The panel shared that after the latest update (which took almost two years to be released) there were a number of new ways to properly link build on a website and also noted some changes in the relationship between link building and content development. Over the past couple of years, explaining to clients why their sites are ranking poorly has been a challenge. Apparently, the experts were having the same issues.
What I learned was that many people assume link building is the "Be All, End All" for any website. Quality web design, solid SEO tactics, content development and how links are developed are still a large part of what must be done to perform well in the SEO stage.
The other important take-away from Google's new update was interesting ----- having spammy links or disavowing questionable links seems to not affect a website's ranking. The panelists could not say for certain whether Google places higher value on or were penalizing for not removing spammy or disavowed links to a website. This coincides with the conversations I've had with Google the past couple of years where I was told spammy links and disavowing links does not affect rankings all that much.
The popular opinion was having good quality links, both in-bound and out-bound, has a positive impact on a site. Pairing those links with solid SEO work and quality content is a definite plus. The panel suggested doing a link audit to determine the quality of the links. While this is a great suggestion, regularly performing a link audit is a time-consuming process that may not be in the best interest of the client.
Effective link building starts with determining the best ways to get great exposure for a client's product or service. Having a brainstorm session to cultivate good ideas and exposure is a great place to start. Also, creating a list of viable sources for quality links helps to better direct the link building efforts.
Using external media sources to help get the word out is a smart approach to build “healthy” links back to your website. Utilizing HARO links (Help a Reporter Out) is one way of doing that. (HARO is a service that connects journalists in need of sources to publicity-hungry marketers. https://www.quicksprout.com/university/how-to-get-exposure-and-links-using-haro/ )
Stories written from reputable reporters and published in reputable publications offer another great way to connect links to authority sites. These sites are generally well respected and have a lot of clout in the public sector.
Perhaps one of the most important pieces to building quality links is having quality content and to positively promote that content. Content that is data driven is an additional plus. Providing cited, data-driven content that can be linked from your website to the source will create authority on your site.
Lastly, the discussion moved into having guest postings on your site. While the panelist we not opposed to guest posting, they did caution listeners by saying that guest posting is not always the best tool for link building.
In the end, the simple task of creating great content and developing quality relationships with good sources still have a positive effect on your website. While seeking out spammy links and disavowing links neither help nor hurt your website, one never knows when Google will update the algorithm to a point where it will adversely affect your website traffic and recommend an ounce of prevention, to beat a pound of cure.