I've been saying on the forums for a long time that link building is a bad idea, especially after Penguin; artificial links obviously are contrived. I'm always surprised that people are still using link building and advising others to do it. At any rate, I stumbled on something about it from John Mueller from Google, pretty much confirming my suspicion that link building might lead to a penalty on your site. Here it is: http://searchengineland.com/google-try- … ood-214861
That article dates from 2015 so it's been known for some time. However it should be taken with a big pinch of salt.
Originally, Google placed great emphasis on the number of links pointing TO an article. It was a major factor in determining your ranking. The idea was that if lots of readers were sharing the article with their friends, that must mean the article is useful and valuable.
Then, of course, authors realised they could create their own links instead of waiting for readers to do so. Clearly, those links have no value in determining the worth of an article. So it made a nonsense of Google's algorithm because it couldn't tell the difference between real links and author links. It still can't, a lot of the time. What Google does is look at the overall link profile, i.e. the pattern of links connecting to a website or webpage. If the pattern looks "natural", the links do still count and they are still worth having.
Bottom line, for me, is that if a link is easy to get, then it's probably not worth having. Things like getting on a links page on a website, or a listing in a directory, or in an article on a content farm - all worthless because they're likely to be viewed as suspicious by Google. Ditto if you create a blog and link to all your Hubs from it - Google can work that one out easily!
However, if there is a link in a well-written article on a reputable website, Google still can't tell whether it's genuine or provided by the author. I think that's why Mueller is downplaying their importance - he knows they still work, but he wants writers to think there's no point in doing it. The other bonus of a link from an article on another site - real readers will read it and follow the link. That's often worth far more.
Why taken with a pinch of salt and who cares if it's already known; evidently people don't get it because I see people on the forums still talking about building links and I'm the only person pointing out it's a bad idea. I mean this came from one of the top guys at Google. A pinch of salt. Really? You have more authority on this than John Mueller and Barry Swartz? Mueller says link building causes more problems for your site than they're worth. Clear indication that it can be bad for a site, he says it specifically, no need to interpret and double interpret. What's with the dismissive tone? Weird.
A lot of the old-style link building is bad and shouldn't be done. I'm not disputing that. I'm just saying, don't rush to dismiss all link building.
You'll notice he says "ONLY focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.". Which I would agree with. He doesn't say, don't do it.
In fact, read this article where Matt Cutts says it's OK.
https://ivetriedthat.com/2017/02/15/is- … -strategy/
If you have no talent for writing, cheating the search engines might still be a way to make a living. But it is a high risk business.
Of course, for some, it is the cheating that is the fun.
Google just wants you to think that link building is dead. I agree with what Marisa says and I've seen some clients rankings shoot up to the first page once they built links. Of course, quality links and not spam. But they were built by them and not readers.
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