Building links in a post-Penguin world

The Penguin algorithm updates have clearly had a significant impact on the wider SEO environment, but how are you adapting your approach to link building? I’m assuming, as a starting point, that you’ve realised that there’s a need to make changes.

Like many SEO professionals, I frequent a variety of forums and online communities that include discussions on different approaches to SEO. I’m often somewhat disturbed to read the advice that is being given by some so-called gurus.

I’m still seeing people suggesting that creating hundreds of forum profiles, mass blog commenting and buying content that costs around $2 per article are great examples of “white hat” SEO techniques. As you may well imagine, I would beg to differ.

Taking control of link building

Part of the problem, as far as I can see, is that link building is out of control. In part, the Penguin changes can be seen as a reaction to the worst excesses of the SEO industry. Plenty of digital marketing agencies have been happy to outsource their link building requirements to specialists overseas. Unfortunately, those specialists have little idea what the word quality really means.

Importantly, they also fail to grasp why it is that Google have been quick to demote some sites. I feel a certain sense of despair when I see website owners turning to cheap overseas SEO providers, in an effort to bring about site repairs. Most of us will know that the likelihood is that using a poor quality service, in order to rectify a quality-related problem, is only going to make matters worse.

It’s also worth remembering that poor quality link profiles were often built incredibly cheaply. The combination of outsourcing and automated methods allowed that to happen. A website owner who is used to paying very little will rarely be pleased to hear that they must now spend a lot of money, in order to bring about a recovery. In fact, it would be true that say that they are looking at increased fees from this point on, assuming that they want to build an online presence in the right manner.

What all of this means is that link building has been changed in a fundamental manner. We’re all aware of the fact that the focus now needs to be on quality, rather than quantity, but it’s also obvious that there’s far less clarity on what is really required. In short, there’s confusion about what quality means, within this context.

A more rounded approach to SEO

When I’m offering advice to business owners, I like to talk about gaining links in a rather more holistic sense. If a link is to be gained, then I wonder about the expectations surrounding the placement of that links. Is it being gained, in order to raise the profile of a particular individual or website? If you’re seeking to gain guest blog slots, for example, to build your own reputation as an authority within your chosen field, then I would see this as being a good thing.

I certainly see no harm in writing an informative, thought-provoking piece of content and making it clear that you, as the author, can be contacted online. That seems to me to be about building business relationships and it’s something that will almost certainly continue to be rewarded.

Associated rewards

It’s worth noting, however, that those rewards are likely to take the form of increased visitors to your website, increased enquiries and hopefully to an increase in the amount of new business that you take on. The SEO benefits, on the other hand, are likely to be rather secondary in nature.

As links are built to your site, it’s actually instructive to forget about SEO altogether. I appreciate that this involves a new way of thinking for many consultants and digital marketing providers, but it’s an approach that does make sense.

By forgetting about keywords and search engine positioning, you’ll naturally focus on what really matters. In particular, you will be concentrating on the value of what you are adding. Are you helping the online community, or reaching out to a wider audience? By making such actions your goals, you will find that your online business is a success.

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