Tactics may have changed, but link building remains an important element to rank high on Search Engine Result Pages. The first time we did link building, was in 2002, for one of our SEO clients whose website still ranks on Page 1 for major keywords. Since then, we have come a long way, experimenting various tactics, according to the changes in algorithm and increasing competition online. Let us have a look at how link building has changed over the past 10 years.
Penalties for spammy link building
Over the past decade, Google has been harshly penalising websites that generated spammy links. Termed as Link Scheme, the practice of generating inbound or outbound links with an intention to alter the page rank, or ranking in SERPs, have been considered to be a malpractice according to the Google Webmaster guidelines. Link Schemes have backfired for many website, and some still find it difficult to climb up the rankings in SERPs.
Irrelevant links do not work
Ten years ago, a link, irrespective of the relevancy, or the website or forum where it is posted, was considered a link and was given high consideration. This is not the case today. Websites these days do not accept irrelevant links, as Google no longer tolerate them. When Google detects a pattern of irrelevant links, they are either neutralized, fetching you no gain, or blows hard on your website with a manual or algorithmic penalty.
Link source matters
Earlier, you could have multiple links coming to your website from the same source, and have a positive impact on your search rankings. The scenario has changed; even though relevant links from same source has some value, the impact is lesser when compared to links coming from multiple relevant sources. The logic behind this is simple; backlinks denote the credibility of a website, and links from the same source do not provide much proof of credibility while links from multiple sources provide more credibility to the website. Think about it like this, in real life, a person has a higher value in the society when various people talk good about him, rather than just one person praising him all the time.
Guest posts rule the roost
Search engine finds blogs written on external sites to add more value to the users, in term of content, and hence give higher value to guest blog posts. Backlinks generated on guest blog posts often give best results, and has hence become one of the golden SEO tactics over the past few years.
Content is still the king; but the expectations have grown
The popularity of guest posts have urged publishers to improve the standard of their content. This has resulted in increased expectations in the quality of content that they receive for posting on their website/blog. The content business have become more real, with real relationships being built between contributors, editors, and webmasters, in order to create content that adds more value to the users.
Press releases are no longer important
There was a time when the newsworthy nature of content published on press-release sites, gave more value to the content, and Google considered press release backlinks important. Nowadays, the tactic is not bearing fruits for SEOs due to the excess popularity it had. Press release links today do not have the power that they previously had, and hence it is not a worthy source anymore.
The changing anchor text criteria
Google now has a more sophisticated quality evaluation, and the keyword-rich anchor text do not have the ranking power it had a decade ago. Google detects unnatural use of keywords in anchor texts, and consider them as spammy links. Use of such anchor texts have hit hard on several websites.
Earning links make more sense
Having high quality content that is irresistible to link to, is the best way to earn links from multiple sources. Even though this was not a good tactic few years ago, Google has changed the way it looks at links, and hence link earning has become a much better tactic than many other white hat SEO tactics.
There is much more to link building than ranking
Link building not only helps in site rankings, but in improving the authority of your website, to increase brand visibility, and to improve the referral traffic. In a nutshell, they can longer be considered as tricks and gimmicks for higher search engine rankings, as there is some science to it than ever before.
What are the major link building changes you observed over the past 10 years? Share with us in comments 🙂