It would seem that for many folks when they think about SEO, they think link building. Problem is, link building, or links at least, whilst still important, should be the very last thing you think about when you are looking to improve your traffic from organic search results.
Now, I am not talking about those first few links you can use to get started. A few highly relevant and quality directories, maybe a few high-quality guest posts and even a few small articles here and there (if the quality is right and we are talking 1 or 2 on each site). We are talking about the long-term, scalable link building that you will be doing in an effort to ‘promote’ your site in the search results.
Why link building should be the last job on your SEO to-do list
1. Building links to your site have absolutely no benefit for your users. Sure, in principle, it may make people find you easier but if the experience sucks when they get there, well, that was an effort wasted.
2. You likely have a whole bunch of actual ‘optimisations’ you can make to your site to improve organic traffic and increase a number of visitors that actually become customers.
3. At some point, you are going to want some links BUT it is a damn site easier to get them if you have something worth linking to. Concentrate on making your site great and then earning links won’t be so damned difficult.
4. I am all for high-quality guest blogging for exposure and it can be a useful link building tactic from triple-A sites. That said, if you are going to get exposure on a high visibility site then you want to make sure you put out a solid piece of work that represents you in a super positive light and unfortunately, this is not adding value to your actual site. So, make sure you have some solid, cornerstone content on your own site before you go and put your best stuff on someone else’s site.
5. If you outsource link building there is a tendency to just forget about the site itself and just call it good. This is a mistake. If you are not monitoring your site and making small, incremental improvements then you are missing the point and are not ‘optimising’ at all. By all means consider outsourcing bits of your campaign (writing, graphic design, research) but make sure you are in control of the nuts and bolts and don’t just try and outsource the whole thing as it is doomed, doomed, doomed to failure.
6. It’s easy to ‘get it wrong’ and do some real long term damage to your site. In more and more cases where someone has a link penalty, we are simply advising that they start again on a new domain as where the entire link profile is based on spam links, a cleanup will be expensive, will take a long time and has no guarantees.
7. Your time is most likely better spent working on long tail blog content and some real cornerstone pieces of blog content and lead generation content.
Build it and they will come
In a way, this is true and is how it should work. You build something great, and links will come tumbling in, and in many respects it is true. But, you really do have to build something great for that to happen AND you should also make sure you start to tell people about this great thing you have put together.
That is where the magic is if you do something outstanding and start to network with fellow bloggers or people in your niche before long, all these other folks who are looking for things to talk about can talk about you and what you are building/writing/filming etc. If you build something that people will talk about then you don’t have to worry quite so much about building links!
Don’t Rely on Google
Another important point is that you should not simply rely on Google search to fuel your business. The algorithm can be a brutal mistress and should you take a tumble, and your leads suddenly dry up, it is not a responsible way to run your business. Sure, let’s hope that does not happen, but even now, there is more to generating business enquiries than organic search alone.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Google is cracking down on link spam and link schemes so this is not something you can just simply outsource and be confident it is going to A) work and B) not do real long term damage to your site.
Do it last, do it well
At some point, you are going to want more links but it you have spent a good deal of time adding value to your site and pouring your resources into your own site getting those links will be just a whole lot easier.