New clients tend to get that deer-in-the-headlights look when we start talking about “link building.” Typically, they understand that ranking on the first page of Google or other search engines is critical to bringing in leads online. They also understand that their websites must be coded in a way that search engines appreciate.

We often get the question, “Isn’t link building dead?” Rest assured, search marketing bloggers and journalists are no better than the traditional media pros when trying to shock people into reading their stories. Even in 2015, link building’s death has been greatly exaggerated, again.

We would like to take yet another stab at explaining the importance of back-linking and why link building is far from dead and in fact has years, even decades, of life left.

Go with Us Back Through Time to the Birth of Link Building . . .

A good-looking, well-coded website itself is simply not enough. In order to decide which website about the same topic should show up higher in results, Google has developed a system that lets other website owners decide. Other website owners signal their appreciation of a website by linking to it. The link they create on an outside website leading back to an admired website (or article or image on that website) is known as a “backlink.” Early on, in the early 2000s, the more backlinks, the higher the website would be ranked. The backlinks would just have to be counted, a job for software’s millisecond calculations.

Then, as the years passed, other brilliant coders started “gaming” or tricking Google into ranking their websites higher with fake or constructed backlinks. They simply set up hundreds, even thousands of outside websites, filled them with lame, computer generated content and then linked back to the main website. This kind of link building and other link scams (we won’t bore you with the extent) lead Google to ding these websites, reducing their rank. Google punished this fake or disingenuous style of link building because its own prime directive or reason for being in business is to deliver the most genuine, robust and meaningful content to web surfers. Why would web surfers use Google if it delivered useless websites that pitched products often irrelevant to what the surfer initially typed into the search bar?     

Indisputable Proof of Link Building’s Viability

For this article we are indebted to search pioneer Moz (once SEOMoz). Every two years, Moz surveys over 150 of the world’s leading search marketers, the brains on the front lines of which companies rank where and why. Moz unleashed its human analysts and robust algorithms on these high-level insights to come to the conclusions in the report. In short, Moz’s “Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015” is the closest thing we can get to truth outside Google’s castle walls.

The infographic reveals that the very top search ranking factors are “domain level link features” or the number of outside votes or backlinks from other sites. The second search ranking factor is “page level link features” — same thing but to specific pages. Despite all the cries of “content is king!” clearly the number of quality backlinks or those outside votes count a great deal. Content comes in third.

Link Building in 2016 and Beyond

The bottom line about link building: each website should strive to attract links to its website by creating original, useful, quality content. This said, sometimes attraction can use a little help. That’s why at Main Path, we have lots of ways to entice outside bloggers, journalists and others to the content on our client websites. If you’re ready to capture your ideal prospects online, call 800-606-4659 today or leave us a detailed message here to discuss how we work link building into a comprehensive digital marketing plan to make 2016 your best year yet!

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