Is Link Building Bad for SEO?

By | August 11, 2019

Hello, this is John Locke, and today we’re
answering a viewer question about building backlinks to your site. So a
viewer question came in, and they asked their name to be anonymous. The question said, “I
had seen that somebody else was teaching SEO, and they had said that building
back links was bad, and you have to be really careful when building back links,
because it might hurt your SEO, and you might get a Google penalty. What’s your
opinion on this?” Signed, Anonymous. Okay so, there are people on the periphery of SEO
that are teaching people that you have to use extreme caution in building
back links, and as a result, a lot of people are not building any sort of
back links to their website. The truth of the matter is, links, from the beginning of
search engines up until now, have been a major factor in ranking your site. In
fact, Google said in March of 2016 that the three biggest factors that they were
using to rank your site were, the quality and relevance of content on your site,
the relevancy and quality of your back link profile coming into your site,
and the machine learning part of their algorithm called RankBrain, which is
basically artificial intelligence. They’re trying to teach it how to select
search results like a human. So those three things. They [Google] basically said content,
links, and machine learning. So, a lot of people are being taught that building
links is bad. Now, I get where a lot of this fear comes from. It’s not that you
should fear building links. It’s that you should fear building links for the sake
of trying to boost your Google score. Now, to be truthful there are a lot of SEO
companies out there, especially at the lower end of the market, they use all
sorts of shady tactics to build links, including setting up fake blogs, which we
call Private Blog Networks. These are basically sites just set up to try and manipulate
links. And people do sell links in a way that’s not even really providing value
to people reading the article. These are definitely the types of links that you
should avoid. Because from what I’ve seen in competitor research, links that don’t
drive traffic and are unlikely to be clicked on, are undesirable links. So
basically, if your SEO company is setting up a bunch of fake articles
that were basically designed just to provide you a link, and nobody is likely
to ever come and see that article, or click on that link, then that’s a bad
link to have. On the other hand, you should be building relevant links that
are going to build your brand and drive traffic. Google’s algorithm is shifting —
or they’re trying to shift — I should say that they’re trying to shift
it in this direction. I don’t think that links will ever go away completely as
something that they use to evaluate where something should rank. Because
links are a sign of how popular your brand is. If you’re mentioned on industry
blogs or industry sites, if you are getting press coverage, if you are in the
news for your industry, and if you’re listed where Google expects to see
brands in your industry — then those are good links to have. And those are links
that you should have, because they can drive traffic, and they help build brand
awareness. As we’ve discussed in other videos a little bit, Google is moving to
something called the Entity Graph. How is your company connected to other things
out in the world? Google is trying to figure out how to connect people,
organizations, companies, ideas, concepts — entities. You’re basically trying to
build a information grid of all these things, to where they’re not so reliant
on links [to evaluate rankings], but they can rely more on what is known about an organization. That said,
links are still important, and they are one of the main factors, besides content
of your site, that are going to move the needle in a big way. Now other things
that are going to go into that [ranking factors] as well: product and service reviews of your
company, the actual user experience of your site, how user friendly,
mobile-friendly, fast-loading is your site — things of that nature.
If all other things are considered, content and links are going to be the
two main drivers of your rankings. So should you be building links? Yes, you
absolutely should be. You’re going to find it very difficult — you’re going to find it
insanely difficult to rank without links. So people who are teaching you to not
build links because it’s dangerous, they’re teaching you something that is
false. Do build links that make sense. You should build links that are going to drive
traffic. Make sure that you’re on all the sites that other companies in
your industry are on. Do try and drum up some publicity for your website, and do
have content on your site which people would want to link to. Most
people are not going to link directly to your service or product pages, because
there’s just no reason for them to do that. If you have content that answers the
questions that your customers have before making a purchase with you, and [that content]
helps your customers make an educated decision, those things are likely to be
linked to by other web sites where people are asking those questions — like
forum sites or Quora. Those are the things that are likely to be shared in Facebook
and Twitter and everywhere else, so that’s a hint. Build content, build your
brand, build links. Those three things all kind of go together.
You need the content, you need to build your brand. You can’t just be heads down
in your work. You have to work on your marketing, and part of that is building
out content that establishes you as a source of information. If somebody is
telling you not to build links — and I am not saying this to be mean at all —
but if somebody is telling you not to build links, and they act like they’re
scared of building links, they’re either not telling you something, or they’re not
doing SEO at a very high level. So that’s my take. If you have an SEO question that
you’d like to see answered, go ahead and leave it in the comments below. We will
answer it out in a video. My name is John Locke. My business is Lockedown Design and
SEO. We provide SEO for manufacturing and industrial companies, helping them
get more organic traffic from Google and Bing, and helping them get more Requests
For Quotes. Peace. [Outtakes: So they had heard from someone teaching
SEO, build links.]

2 thoughts on “Is Link Building Bad for SEO?

  1. Curtis McHale Post author

    What do you think about getting paid to put some content on your site? I’ve had an offer from someone to pay me a bit for putting up an article. They ask that I keep the links they provide the same though I’m able to edit (or reject) anything else that I want.

  2. Patricia Shetler Post author

    Where are you filming this? Wear some awesome colors (your logo is almost impossible to see) with this background. Great video.


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