I recently read a very good post by Moz which included the results of a survey about link building techniques based on responses from 315 professionals from the SEO industry. The survey indicated the following techniques were the most popular ones:
- Content and outreach
- Infographic promotion
- Broken link building
- Local citation/Business directories
- Resource pages
- Paid links
- Translating existing content
- Video submissions
- Press release submissions
- Blog network
- Guest posts
The Mighty Have Fallen
If you’ve followed SEO news in the past year, you won’t be surprised to see guest posts at the end of the list. This while in 2013’s survey it was on the top. Broken link building, which didn’t make first cut of the first 5 in 2013, is now in the 3rd position. This trendy rise should give everyone pause, as surely Google will look at this as another SEO loophole to close.
Broken Link Strategy
A broken link strategy basically means you try and replace broken links you find in resources pages with your own. The process includes:
- Finding good resources pages
- Scanning them for broken links
- Going over these broken links and looking for ones that fit your own content
- Contact these website owners alerting them about the broken link, immediately coming up with a simple solution of them replacing the broken link with your own.
Sounds simple enough, but those of you in the SEO industry know that this is a tiring process that costs a lot of time and results to a very low links/hours rate. It can still be worth it, if the results will last, but if these hard earned links are going to be obsolete 6 months from now, it was all for nothing. Even worse – if these links are going to get you a Google penalty in 6 months, you’ve just worked very hard on taking your site straight into the doghouse.
Why the Broken Link Strategy is Going to Suffer the Same Fate as Guest Blogging
When you look on a link building strategy, the first thing you should do is ask yourself – how easy is it to automate this technique and/or misuse it? Guest blogging started as an innocent marketing technique, not even for SEO. Bloggers used it to get recognition for their writing and their own blogs by writing guest posts on already established blogs and news portals. But SEOs discovered this, started using it for building links and before you knew it you had automated platforms that distributed nothing but spammed content. Now take this scenario and ask yourself – how likely is it broken links are going to go through the same cycle of exploitation?
How Should I React?
You could argue that any link building technique has the potential to be misused. So should you just wait for people to naturally link to your site? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, you need to naturally build links but no, you don’t need to sit quietly and wait for someone to discover your amazing content. There are numerous ways to get your content out there, some are organic, and some are paid. Some start off as paid and then turn viral and continue building up organically. The point is – you can’t fool the system! Ultimately the web is going to give higher priority to user generated content, with the growing popularity of Reddit up and down voting, and Youtube likes etc.
If you’re a big corporate company, or even a small business owner that is struggling to get your site ranked high, you can’t afford mistakes. When I worked in the gambling industry, we spent some time on black hat SEO since we worked with networks sites and we always had a backup and could afford to take the Google penalties. Most industries don’t work this way and need to be very careful about the SEO techniques they are using to get those much desired organic rankings.