In April 2012, Google rolled out an algorithm update that completely changed the way they looked at and credited links. The update, known as Penguin, affected more than three percent of the sites in Google’s index; sites that were violating Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Black hat link building techniques were the bane of our existence for quite some time. They not only added NO value to websites, but they were often a nuisance. And unfortunately, until the Penguin update, SEOs practicing black hat link building were taking over the first page of Google.
Examples of black hat link building schemes include:
- Utilizing link farms
- Buying links
- Overusing anchor text
- Using blog networks
Thankfully, gone are the days when using less than acceptable practices will get your website to the first page. While links, specifically inbound links, are still very much part of becoming a search engine powerhouse, they must be EARNED. Beyond being earned, for links to be beneficial to your website, they need to be valuable and relevant.
One of the most effective ways to earn valuable, inbound links is through content. What’s great about this is that content can potentially be anything, from blog posts to eBooks and other written content, to infographics, presentations, free templates/downloads and videos. When you create informative and interesting content, people will link to it and share it on social media.
This brings me to the idea of incorporating social sharing buttons within your content, both on-site and off-site. Social media is not only a great way to build a following and increase brand awareness, it’s also a great source for natural links. Through sharing content on social media, you increase the chances of your links and content being shared by your followers and potentially picked up by an extended audience.
When it comes down to it, link building is still an important aspect of ranking on the search engines. However, it’s now about user experience. If your links aren’t going to benefit your users or add value to your website, you might want to rethink your link strategy.