For years, I’ve been reading about, following, and studying the latest SEO link building tactics. And a lot of these tactics are still talked about and promoted to this day from some of the biggest names in the SEO and online marketing space (I’ll refrain from naming names here…!).
If you’ve been interested in the world of SEO, online marketing, inbound marketing, and the overall idea of driving more traffic to your website, you’ve probably seen some of the more popular link building tactics discussed, such as:
- getting links from .edu sites
- getting links from .gov sites
- getting links from comments
- link exchanges
- and so on…
These are just a few of the tactics that, over the years, have been reported as “must do” strategies in building authoritative links back to your website.
So why all the fuss about building backlinks for SEO anyway?
If you are new to the world of online marketing, inbound marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), etc… then you might be asking yourself, “what’s all the fuss about building backlinks?”
A bit of history might help here.
Google’s algorithm, the mathematical formula that determines where a website ranks in the search results for any given query, is an algorithm that is driven by backlink analysis.
Dating all the way back to 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, spelled out the core ideas of PageRank and their ranking algorithm in a paper called The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.
Without getting too deep here, they said that backlink analysis is the most accurate way to determine what web page is the most authoritative for any given search query, and as such, that would be the page that gets the top ranking in the search results.
In order to explain their theory in more relative terms, they drew an analogue to academic literature by stating:
Academic citation literature has been applied to the web, largely by counting citations or backlinks to a given page. This gives some approximation of a page’s importance or quality. PageRank extends this idea by not counting links from all pages equally, and by normalizing by the number of links on a page. (source)
The best way to determine the most authoritative academic literature was to analyze what pieces of literature were given the most citations from other literary sources.
And not all literature is created equal, just as not all websites are created equal. If your academic research received citations from Harvard, for example, this would carry substantially more weight than a citation from a community college.
Likewise, receiving a backlink from The New York Times is exponentially more authoritative than receiving a backlink from a small town online news source.
And ever since day one of the Google search engine, SEO types have been frantically trying to find ways to game the system by building manual backlinks to websites, all in an effort to achieve the #1 ranking in Google for their targeted keyword phrases.
It’s interesting to know that the majority of the Google algorithm updates over the years have not necessarily been to improve the original algorithm, but rather to combat the manipulative efforts of “SEO” types that continue to find ways to build artificial authority through manual link building efforts.
And this is where the secret to SEO link building comes in…
The irony here is that the most authoritative SEO link building strategy is, after all, to not engage in any form of manual link building whatsoever.
I’ve literally had potential clients hang up on me after telling them my backlink building strategy is to actually not focus on building backlinks at all!
The truth is (and this is a hard truth for most…), the best way to attract the highest quality links (aka. citations) is to focus on producing the highest quality content, and the most valuable information in your market, whatever that market space may be.
And here’s where the “pissing you off” part comes in…
Because the most authoritative backlinks are attracted naturally as a result of producing the most valuable content, the only way you can create the most valuable content is to put in the hard work, sweat, and labor required to produced the most valuable content.
You see, in order to produce content that is seen as “the most valuable”, you have to know going in what the current most valuable information is available. And then, based on your research, you have to put in the time and effort to produce content that’s even more valuable.
This means you have to be willing to work extremely hard at producing that best content in your market space.
The good news is that very few people are willing to work this hard, so the competition is probably not as thick as you think.
The bad news, or the challenging news for you is there are probably a few pieces of content that are nothing short of amazing. And these are the websites that currently occupy the top search results for your targeted keyword phrases.
Once you create content that’s more valuable than what’s already out there, your content will start to attract all of the attention. And attention on the web means backlinks, likes, shares, comments, etc… as a result of everyone talking about and sharing your content.
So in summary, in order to build the most authoritative SEO backlinks to your website, and in order to achieve the coveted #1 ranking in Google for any given keyword phrase, you have to first produce content that’s more valuable than anything else out there.
The more valuable or coveted the keyword phrase market, the tougher the competition and the more valuable your content will need to be.
Then, and only then, can you expect to reach the upper echelons of the search results and reap the windfall profits that follow.
The downside to manually building backlinks
I’ll close with a word of warning here.
I mentioned already that the majority of Google’s algorithm updates have been designed to combat spamming, artificial backlink strategies.
As such, if you are engaging in these practices and Google identifies your website as source of artificial link building, then you can expect a penalty to be assessed on your website.
And if this happens, not only will you drop immediately and dramatically in the search results, but you’ll be left with the realization that all of your efforts have actually worked against you.
And trust me, it’s a long hard road to turn that ship around (so to speak…).
The best, most effective form of SEO backlink building is to put in the hard work to produce the absolute best, most informative content in your market.
Do that, and you can expect a long, fruitful experience in the search results!