How to Think About Link Building in a Post Penguin SEO World

July 18, 2012

Last week we explained why linking is still (and always will be) crucial to your SEO campaign.

Ever since Google’s Penguin Update hit, marketers have been worrying that link building isn’t going to work anymore. Now that Google is penalizing sites with a bad link profile, SEOs have gone running for the hills, scared that links are no longer key to getting rankings and traffic. As we noted, links remain SEO fuel for your website.

While linking remains important, you do need to start thinking about linking a little differently.

Here’s how to think about link building in a post Penguin SEO world.

Your Link Profile

For a while now Google has been talking about the importance of having a strong link profile. After years of Google talking but little changing, SEOs started to tune Google out. Thanks to Penguin, people are finally starting to listen.

But what does it mean to have a strong link profile? It means that you have an organic variety of inbound links coming from relevant websites that exist in “good neighborhoods.” So if your site sells sports apparel, you will benefit greatly by having inbound links from sports related news sites and sports blogs. If you can get a link from, say, that would be the Holy Grail! Conversely, you don’t want to generate a bunch of inbound links from irrelevant sites and “bad neighborhoods.” For example, if your site has a bunch of links from low PR sites that have nothing whatsoever to do with sports, Google will flag these links as being unnatural. This will result in a poor linking profile, and your rankings will suffer.

Building a quality linking profile is all about showing Google that you are getting links from sites that would ordinarily share your content. If Google thinks your site is getting links from sites that have nothing to do with your industry, Google may start to wonder where you are getting all these links. And that could be a very bad thing.

Quality, Not Quantity

For years, marketers and business professionals have been conditioned to think about linking as a binary condition: either you have a lot of links, or you don’t have enough links. Prior to Penguin, the more links the better. But that’s not really the case anymore. Now you want to focus on generating inbound links from quality, relevant sites.

You may be saying, “Well, sure. Links are better if they’re from good, relevant websites. But that’s not so easy!”

You’re right. It is very difficult. SEO is complex and labor intensive, so it’s a wise investment to either hire a full-time SEO consultant or outsource your SEO to an agency.

Stop thinking about links in terms of quantity. It’s more important to get the kind of quality and relevant links that Google is looking for. If you can generate a ton of great links, awesome! But if not, start by building a strong link profile with fewer, but better links.

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