Aug 13 2012

Link Building: Traditional Is Dead and What Works Today

Category: link buildingTom Shivers


An interview with Nate Dame of SEOperks

Link building continues to be scuplted by Google’s algo changes. Some people think Google is trying to make it harder and harder for SEO to work, how do you see it?

Yep! Google is trying to make some SEO “harder.” Black hat and grey hat SEO’s should have a very difficult time staying in business right now, and it will only get more challenging.

But I sure don’t believe that Google hates all SEO’s. Google is an open supporter of the SEO-done-right white hat community. In fact, Google has published their own SEO advice. What would they give advice on something they don’t support? (Sure we can speculate on their motives all day long, but it is still just speculation.)

The fact is that good SEO is good for Google. It costs them a lot of money to employ Matt Cutts and the web spam team to fight link farms and deceptive ranking tactics. Somebody is always coming up with the new way to weasel their way into high rankings. Each new strategy might work a little time, even very well, but eventually Google will find a way to counteract it. If they can discourage manipulative SEO tactics on a large scale, they stand to save a lot of money because they won’t have so much garbage to fight.

Good SEO also makes Google better and thus improves their bottom line. By encouraging SEO’s to focus on white hat tactics and what makes users happy (really good content, excellent user experience, etc.), Google has more high quality results to display.¬†When search results are higher quality (less spam, more good stuff), more people will use Google.

I think it took some time, but Google has come to accept that SEO is here to stay. The best they can do is help the industry mature in a way that benefits them the most.

Do you think the era of traditional link building is over?

If by “traditional” you mean en-mass link directories, spammy comments, forum-posts-for-the-sake-of-links, anchor text sculpting and “$X for Y links” services… yes, that era is already over.

So what kind of link building works today in a Panda/Penguin Google?

There’s still some questionable link building that “works” today. But the real powerful stuff is link building built on a content marketing strategy.

People love content, and they love sharing good content. Powerful links are given out by powerful websites every day, but they are linking to content that is worth taking note of.

The most powerful links are to amazing, industry-leadership content on your website. But of course you can’t count on people to simply find your content if you are just starting out. So it is important to be very active, always connecting with bloggers in your space, interacting on Twitter and Facebook, etc. As you build meaningful relationships and regularly create amazing content, don’t be afraid to ask your new friends for a link. Assuming you’ve done a good job reaching out, it will be natural for them to add links to your great content.

With so many questionable link building practices out there, I’d say it’s time for a paradigm shift in terminology about the concept. What are your thoughts?

Absolutely. We must see link building in a completely new light. We really need to call it something different, but I haven’t seen a new term for it that I really like!

Here’s a few ideas:
* Link magnetism – the probability that a piece of content will be linked to
* Link influence – a site’s overall influence on users linking to it

These could also be ratios to measure natural and authoritative links to a site.

Nate Dame is founder of, which specializes in Content Marketing for Links: leveraging high-quality content and creative outreach to build a natural link profile.

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2 Responses to “Link Building: Traditional Is Dead and What Works Today”

  1. Martin E says:

    How about “link love”? (It’s been around, but I do like it)

  2. Tom Shivers says:

    Hi Martin, link love is still a good way to express getting natural links, but there may be more motivational terminology for some of us thinker types.
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