In the post-Penguin world that we and our SEO campaigns now live in, one of the most common questions I am hearing from site owners is “so what’s the new link building trick?” Penguin effectively cut the legs out from under a lot of black and grey hat link building tactics that had been working fairly well for a long time including overuse of exact match anchor text, links from blog networks, footer and site-wide links and more. These link building tactics usually required little effort on the part of the site owner and could yield some pretty spectacular results, especially if you were just looking at quantity.
But not anymore.
And so a lot of site owners are left wondering what the new link building trick to the top of the SERPs is. My answer—there never really was one and there never really will be.
In a recent interview I did with link building guru Eric Ward, we talked about link building in a post-Penguin world and this is what he said:
Some folks simply do not want to invest in their web site. They want to invest in tactics to make the site they have rank high, regardless of the quality of that site. That’s a mistake I see continuing to happen. And even though I call it a mistake, I totally get it. A guy who is an expert at teaching people how to scuba dive and has a simple web site does not want to spend all his time in his office writing a blog about scuba diving. He want to be in the water. His expertise is not writing or content or web sites, his expertise is teaching me how to not die when I’m 50 feet underwater. So I understand the frustration and the realities of those types of sites.
I know that many site owners claim they were unfairly hit by Penguin and in some cases I believe they are partly right. A small business owner who manages their SEO in-house might not even realize they were treading the line of acceptable and unacceptable link building until it was too late and they got whacked with a penalty. I doubt many of these site owners were trying to game the search engines (although plenty are), they were just trying to do the best they could with what little SEO knowledge they had to help their business along. Every SEO resource they read told them that links were the bread and butter of SEO so they went out and tried to get as many links as they could. Some of them were probably good, some were ok and some were less than great—but a link is a link is a link, right? They may have done their best to “play by the rules” but as someone who has worked in SEO for 13 years I understand that the rules aren’t always crystal clear, especially if SEO isn’t your specialty. There are a lot of grey areas and room for interpretation in the Google Webmaster Guidelines, which is why link building tricks worked so well for so long until the algorithm caught up with the times.
I have always been a strictly white hat link building advocate, much like Eric Ward. We believe that link building is about so much more than just getting to the top of the SERPs. It’s about finding new ways to connect with your target audience and pull them into your website. It’s about publishing great, informative content designed to educate your readers and having it become something they want to share and link too naturally.
In his interview, Eric mentions that only 10% of his website’s traffic comes from Google and the rest comes for the thousands of links he has scattered across the web. You want to approach your link building as if Google didn’t exist. How would someone find your site without the search engines? What other sites would they visit and then work out from? When you start thinking about link building like that, as opposed to looking for a new link building trick to get you to the top of the SERPs, chances are you’ll be building better links and your website will benefit much more in the long run as a great side effect. That’s the real link building trick.
About the Author
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com), a Boston SEO services company. With 13 years of experience Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers.
Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org