It’s Ain’t All About Links Anymore

Written: 25-Sep-2014 | | Filed under: Search Optimization

Or: Link Building? Dude, That’s So 2010…

Actually, real Search Engine Optimization was never “all about links.” Some lazy or incompetent SEOs liked to pretend that was the case — because it’s easier to robo-submit someone’s site to a gazillion worthless “directories” and call it a day than it is to do the real work of SEO.

But now, in the wake of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, website owners are coming to realize they’ve got to do a lot more if they want to do well in the search results.

What are Panda and Penguin?

panda

Panda was launched on the 23rd of February in 2011. It focused on what Google called “thin content” — that is, all those relatively short, relatively useless “articles” that were plastered all over some sites in an effort to draw traffic. There were a few big web publishers that specialized in these sorts of articles. They’d hire freelancers to crank out articles for them, with payment usually being a percentage of the advertising revenue generated by the articles. This created an incentive for cranking out more articles (as opposed to better articles).

Panda removed that incentive by penalizing sites that were deemed to have too much “thin content.” The emphasis after Panda is on creating meaty, useful, engaging content.

penguin

Penguin launched on April 24th in 2012. While Panda focused on the on-page content, Penguin addressed the off-page factor: links. Penguin was designed to downgrade sites that had a high percentage of links coming from dubious sources.

Smart SEOs had always known that links were more about quality than quantity. One good link from the home page of The New York Times would likely do much more good for you than a thousand links from crappy “directories” that no human ever visits. But not all SEOs are smart (or ethical) and there were plenty out there preaching the gospel of the more links the better.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of bad advice floating around out there. For instance, I have within the past week read posts from people alleging themselves to be professional SEOs, claiming the following as sources of high-quality links:

  • Dropping links in blog comments
  • Dropping links in discussion forum posts
  • Submitting “spun” content to article directories
  • A whole bunch of additional crap…

The truth, in this post-Penguin world, is that any link you can place yourself, without any editorial intervention on the part of the website owner, is suspect. This whole idea of “link building” — that somehow you can go out and “create” links for your site on your own, has (finally!) run its course.

Today, you’re much better off thinking in terms of link attraction. Make your pages so awesomely epic that people will want to share them with their friends and site visitors.

Sadly, there are still a awful lot of people out there who are obsessed with search engine rankings as their only measure of success, and who think that thousands of links is the only way to get those rankings.

So What Is Good SEO Nowadays?

It’s actually the same three-step process it’s always been.

  1. Create outstanding content.
  2. House that content on a site that is as user-friendly as you can make it.
  3. Use good old-fashioned marketing tactics to let other people know about your site and what you offer.

The cool thing about this is, pretty soon you’ll find you’re getting traffic from all sorts of sources, not just from the search engines. Which tends to insulate you from any future search engine hiccups or algorithm changes. Meaning your business can keep cooking along without worrying about Penguins or Pandas or any other black-and-white animals.

And that’s got to be A Good Thing.

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