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Building links can harm your SEO efforts.

If you are building links to your website, or you have a search marketing agency building links for you, stop what you/them are doing. Building links can harm your SEO efforts, and especially so if links are the main focus of your SEO efforts. You see, the search engines use lots and lots of factors to determine where a website’s rightful place is in the results pages and although links are one of these factors, they shouldn’t be the focus of your efforts; they should be a natural by-product of them.

Link building is not bad

To put it simply, link building is not bad. Building bad links is bad. This is an important point because despite many company’s best efforts, most will build bad links. A bad link may be:

  • For a direct keyword term;
  • Placed on a website with a low DA and PR;
  • Placed on an irrelevant website;
  • Not be contextual (blogroll links, forum signatures).

To understand how Google looks at links (and in turn understand what constitutes a bad link), we need to look at Google’s objectives. Google exists to give searchers what they want – nothing else. Google is far from perfect in this respect (often, they will return low quality results and spam), but for the most part they deliver relevant and valuable results. If they didn’t, their revenue (which is earned through paid results) would dry up. Google uses links to determine relevancy and value, but the formula they use to value links has changed – the formula used to prioritise link quantity, whereas now it prioritises quality. This is why five years ago (heck, they still exist now) there were companies offering thousands of links for just a few pounds per month. We now know this to be an unwise move for long-term SEO.

What we are getting at is that link building is fine, in moderation. And that moderation needs to focus on quality all of the time.

So what makes a high quality link?

We’re of the belief that a high quality link is any link that’s built by somebody you have never met before in your life – an unconnected, impartial party. This is a natural link; one that points to your website because somebody believes your content is valuable. These links take time to form, though, and even with quality content you’re not guaranteed any.

The key to attracting these high quality links is to distribute your content across multiple platforms; only with lots of eyes on your content will you attract links from people who are interested in what you have to offer and say. Many companies faced with this reality try to take shortcuts, shortcuts which include building low quality links. Whatever you do, refrain from doing that and focus on providing value worthy of being linked to.

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