Do you work at a small company and perform your own SEO? If you answered yes, then what SEO activity consumes the majority of your time? For many of us, the answer to this question is link building. But is link building really worth all of the time and effort you put into it?
On May 27th, Google updated the rankings article in its webmaster help section. The article previously advised webmasters to improve the ranking of their sites by “increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.” The updated document no longer refers to links and instead mentions “creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
This change reflects comments made by Matt Cutts in a recent video in which he lists the tunnel vision mindset of focusing on link building to improve a website’s ranking as one of the five greatest mistakes SEOs consistently make. He makes clear that it is not link building, but rather compelling website content and a great user experience provided by elements such as an excellent design and a fast loading speed that will have the largest impact on a website’s ranking.
So should we ditch link building altogether? It is certainly clear that to improve a website’s ranking we must look beyond just creating links. Instead we should adopt a more holistic approach by offering visitors an enjoyable experience and the information they are looking for in a manner in which they can easily find it. This does not mean, however, that link building is useless. Rather, it means that the approach that many SEOs are currently taking to improving a website’s ranking needs to change.
A new approach to link building is already being adapted by a few forward thinking integrated communications and digital marketing agencies. Instead of making link building a task in itself, these agencies are approaching link building as a secondary consequence of producing compelling online articles published by authoritative sources that demonstrate a company’s capacity for thought leadership and support a strategic public relations campaign.
This kind of activity is never a waste of time. Firstly, it focuses on presenting the company in a way that furthers the company’s objectives and portrays it as a thought leader and, as a result, has a secondary impact on the company website’s SEO. In light of Matt Cutts’ recent comments and the change to the Google rankings article it seems that the best approach to SEO is to focus on marketing your company well and making your website an enjoyable and useful place to visit. By getting these important elements of SEO in place first, the other advised tasks, like link building, will naturally follow. Instead of trying to identify little tricks that will help your website move up in the search engine rankings, focus on bettering your website in general and following best practice digital marketing techniques to ensure your website is easily found and frequently used.