Link building is seen as a useful component when developing a successful website in SEO terms; however, no less a figure than John Mueller, webmaster trends analyst with Google, is questioning the focus on link building at the expense of other essential elements in SEO. That having been said, many other experts feel that links are still very much a major component in any SEO strategy.
At one time, a rich link profile was seen by Google itself as the only practical way of boosting a website’s authority with users. The search engine giant appears to have reconsidered, however, signalling to search marketers through updated regulations and changes to its algorithms that the practice of link building is not as important as it once was and that a focus on other SEO strategies would be more appropriate. Appropriate and as effective? That is the big question.
To the question of whether link building is a total no-no or remains a somewhat useful strategy, there is no one answer. Links are very important in determining a website’s authority because they make the biggest impact on the algorithm, but their impact has been weakened over the course of time owing to the increased risks of link building itself.
What other SEO strategies need to be emphasised then? Take the mobile optimisation issue for a start. Goggle’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update, rolled out on 21st April, cannot be overlooked, and it is part of a longer-term pattern whereby Google has been checking all mobile-optimised sites in order to rank them higher. Fail to take mobile-optimisation into account in your SEO strategy and you risk seeing a fall in terms of search rankings.
Another trend that is becoming something of a big deal is seasonal SEO, or “a website is not just for Christmas.” A website should not be seen as a static product. At certain times of the year, content is going to look outdated on a site. If you have a particular focus on Christmas or the January sales, in the case of a business-to-consumer site, for example, and that offer/element has not been moved down by the spring, then the image of your site is going to suffer. Optimising content to take events/holidays across the year into account will boost rankings and increase traffic.
The overall goal is not only to increase rankings but also to make your website name/brand something that users can rely on.
The conclusion regarding links? Most experts would advise that a lack of solid links from reputable sites would definitely adversely affect the ranking of a site in all the search engines. It is obvious that whatever Google says, the cautious will not be abandoning links anytime soon.