There have been a number of posts about link building on Small Business Mavericks because links are essential ranking factors when it comes to search engine optimization. Why, then, do we see all those claims about “link building is dead” when it still is important to SEO?
Link Building & Link Earning
Those calling link building “dead” are talking about the artificial manipulation of factors to fool a search engine into thinking the site has value. They then will usually talk about “link earning” as the natural way to add authority to your site.
I think they should be the same thing in practice.
Link building should never be about artificial manipulation to fool search engines. That’s just useless because when the visitor comes to a site that is a sham, they leave real quick. Link building is supposed to be a careful cultivation of legitimacy that enables the search engine to recognize the value of the page and site.
As search engines develop algorithms able to discern things like semantics and intention, the artificial stuff becomes easier to filter out. But it means that the links have to be built on real stuff.
Link earning reminds me of gardening. It’s hard work to get the soil built up with all the rich ingredients needed for vegetables to grow well, and digging in compost or other enrichments is referred to as “building the soil”. That’s how I see building links. You could say the gardener is earning the harvest with the hard work of preparation, or building the harvest. Either way, it’s built and earned with specific application of carefully prepared material.
Search engine optimization includes good links — whether they are “built” or “earned” is a matter of semantics. Make sure they are good, like enriched garden soil, so your site is able to produce what you hope for.