Written by Selina Jenkins
Ask any Chicago SEO company about the importance of link building in today’s context, and they would tell you that it is still important, but not in the same way as it used to be few years ago. Think about the times till April 2012 when link building was considered as the only successful method of improving search rankings. It was also considered as the most powerful off-page SEO tool during those times. But as it happens, overuse and misuse resulted in the tool being subjected to extreme abuse. What really happened that blunted the most powerful SEO tool?
Google came into prominence by highlighting external links as an important factor in page ranking. PageRank, the tool that Google used to measure the quality of web pages was driven by the number of links that had been acquired. This signal was then included in the overall algorithm that was used to determine rankings. Naturally, links became the most critical element in earning good ranks in search results. But why are links so important to Google?
Links reflect the quality of web page
Search engines need to identify the most relevant pages on the web whenever any search query is generated. Then they have to rank the pages according to its authority and quality. Links are supposed to be acquired organically, and this lends considerable weightage to webpages that acquire it. It is assumed that the quality of content must have been good enough to attract others, and thus the signal could be considered for page ranking. Since someone else has shown interest to link with the website, it means that they have shown confidence in the quality of content. This led to intense competition among websites to garner attention and gather as many links as possible. Chicago SEO companies joined the fray to help customers benefit from link building.
Circumventing the rules
The competition to attract the attention of search engines became so fierce that SEOs lost no time in figuring out ways to outwit PageRank by adapting unethical means of acquiring links. This led to the practice of acquiring links inorganically by manipulating the process. Instead of waiting for others to be attracted to websites, clandestine methods of gathering links were resorted to. The good intentions of Google were greatly diluted as inferior links flooded websites because emphasis was on quantity and not quality.
This was the time when Google tightened the belt and started weeding out undeserving websites. It started by discarding a number of techniques that were earlier approved for link building. The method of submitting websites to directories to be favored with a link in return was blacklisted as it was seen as a manipulative technique. In April 2012 Google introduced Penguin, an update that identified low quality links and took websites to task by imposing penalty for spammy links.
The turning point
All SEO professionals including the SEO Company Chicago took a hit from the reaction of Google. It was time to re-position the SEO campaigns and devise new ways of earning better ranks in search results. The questions that came to the fore were— has link building lost its relevance to search engines? Is it no more essential for the SEO process? Google’s take on it was quite simple — do it honestly to maintain the sanctity of the organic link building process. The message was to stick to the basics instead of trying to find short-cuts to beat the system. And if you are incapable of doing it, better avoid it, but don’t tamper with it. Direct link building became a taboo and the emphasis was on quality content that would automatically attract others to link with it. Link building still remains, but the rampant easy methods have been discarded.
The change explained
According to Google, the way link building has been abused, it has lost its importance considerably, but is still considered as one of the factors in page ranking. However, the inherent power of link building is still recognized by Google, and the strict measures that have been taken should not affect those who are doing it the right way. In this context, link building is still important as Google attaches considerable value to it. But if not done correctly, it can harm more than doing good. The focus should be on acquiring high quality links organically as practiced by the best SEO Chicago companies.
The best practices in link building
Following the guidelines of Google, the best practices in link building have now come to the surface once again. To be liked by Google and other search engines, you have to live up to the expectations of search engines. Link building is now perhaps one of the toughest jobs faced by SEO services Chicago. The link building process has to respect the underlying principle on which it is based.
- Through link building, websites are able to demonstrate its authority, trust level and credibility, which are the reasons why it is a part of the page ranking algorithm. Being discovered by someone else without any solicitation is a reflection of the high quality of website and its value. This is a one way path that Google insists to follow. Building links on your own means that the element of trust is missing.
- Focus on developing high quality content that can be used as reference by others. This would demonstrate the value of the website and encourage people to share the contents with others. The idea is to attract links naturally. Infographics, detailed content like blog posts and videos are likely to draw more attention and develop quality links of the kind that Google prefers.
- Guest blogging is a good way to build relationships and earn respect from others that invite them to your website thereby generating links.
Recast your SEO strategies in view of the changes that have taken place in link building. Instead of fearing penalty from wrongdoing,do it correctly from the word go and see how beneficial it can turn out to be.
About the author:
Selina Jenkins has worked for a number of SEO Chicago companies and is currently the owner of an internet marketing company. She is actively involved in helping small and medium enterprises to take advantage of the digital revolution by handling their online marketing campaigns. She has more than two decades of experience in the world of SEO and is a member of several professional organizations of the industry. She loves blogging and finds time to train people in SEO techniques. A thorough professional and an avid golfer, she makes it a point to follow the NBA very closely.