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Why Link-Building Isn't Really Against Google's Guidelines

by Carter Bowles  |  
June 2, 2014

You've heard the threats.

Matt Cutts, head of Google's spam team, has told us to stop guest-posting for SEO, and Google's Penguin update periodically slams sites for malicious link-building. For example, My Blog Guest was penalized for promoting SEO guest blogging.

The threat is even right there in Google's terms of service and has been for a very long time: "Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines."

So if you build links with the goal of manipulating rankings in Google, Google is free to consider what you are doing a "link scheme."

Does that mean you should just stop building links? No, it doesn't. (And if you do, don't expect your SEO efforts to work. At all.)

The Pendulum Swings

According to a recent study by Ascend2, only 25% of SEO professionals consider link-building to be one of the "most effective SEO tactics." That is a sad example of the ignorance on display by numerous self-proclaimed SEO "experts."

For a long time, link-building was billed as the most important ranking factor by the industry. This, too, was always a misconception. Though links have always been a crucial part of Google's ranking algorithm, there's really no such thing as a "most important ranking factor."

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Carter Bowles is an SEO and inbound marketing strategist at Northcutt, an inbound marketing agency.

LinkedIn: Carter Bowles

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  • by Davide Consonni Mon Jun 2, 2014 via web

    Link Building is not, for sure, a dead SEO strategy, but is still one of the Off Page SEO factors to be considered, being it undoubtedly the number of links that brings to your site one of the factors that Google consider at the end to assign a rank to your pages. This cannot be a surprise, considering that SEO is mainly about reputation and notoriety. Putting in place a link building strategy is so still an important element. Obviously, you must care and control the links that refer back to your site in order to choose those who can bring benefits to your link building and SEO strategy and not penalizing it.

  • by Eva Mon Jun 2, 2014 via web

    I always find useful thinking of the content on the internet as a huge library and websites as books and pages as chapters...Using this analogy a link is no more than a citation of another's work, or a list of references at the end of the chapter. It is by no means the only thing one should be doing, neither is it a bad thing we should not be doing. It is a smart and efficient way of connecting the reader to more (useful and related) information.

    The over-reliance on social is in my view sales led- it is the new thing every agency makes sure clients can cross off their checklist. No blame here, it is natural to follow what is new and make sure it is covered.

    Very informative article, thank you for clarifying the value of good links.

  • by Joe Wed Jun 4, 2014 via web

    The Matt Cutts scare tactics video worked on Marketing Profs - since they are now nofollowing guest post bio links, including yours, Carter!

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