Things have changed since 1998. Back then, link building was all about getting any link you could, from anybody, anywhere. Then SEOs started looking at related links, link quality, PageRank and so on. Each year, it seemed that the grip was tightening on the quality of links SEOs were trying to achieve, making link building more and more difficult.
It was always easy to get cheap and crappy links. However, it’s an entirely different matter to get a link from someone who understands the value of what they are providing. Today, link building is all but dead. At least, link building as we once knew it is dead.
Yes, links are valuable, and they likely always will be. But anyone offering “link building” as a service raises a red flag.
Where link building of the past was all about mass contact, today it’s about building quality relationships. Very few people are willing to link to you just because you asked. Even if you have a value for their audience, few want to take the time to edit their content to link to an unknown source. But you will find that people are much more willing to link to someone they trust, provided the value is there.
SEOs still selling link building as a service are more than likely focused on bulk link acquisition rather than generating links of value. If you’re looking at an SEO that still uses the link building terminology, inquire further as to what they mean by that. We still get people looking for that as a service, but we use that as a means to direct them toward the new school of link building: social media engagement.
“Link Building” can still be done, but it’s most effective through the lens of social media and building relationships with other people. Without the relationship, you might get a link. But the value received for the time investment isn’t going to be as good. Time invested in social media is much more lucrative.
See all 12 Web Marketing Red Flags on my post at Search Engine Journal.