Before I even write this post I am imagining the comments that will begin to come through from those that only bothered to read the title, however, if you keep reading I can promise you that this is not a “links are dead post” however I maintain that SEOs should let go of them.
We all know about penalties, penguins, and the hunt for new link networks so I won’t waste your time revisiting that here, however despite all this there is one fundamental principle people just aren’t getting. Before I go into that principle let’s look at some of the links that have come under scrutiny in the last few years specifically:
Blog Networks – Typically a cheap online service that allowed you to upload the content of your choice with some highly targeted anchor text. These articles were often spun and pushed out to hundreds of low-quality websites. All content and links were under your control which meant you could optimize them perfectly.
Press Releases – Press release syndication has also come under the hammer by Google’s web spam team. These services allowed you to craft your very own press release and control your links within it. Again you were able to perfectly optimize each piece before they were pushed out to hundreds of websites.
Directories – Low-quality directories started getting deindexed back in 2012, again you would create your listing, control the anchor text, and sometimes pay a small fee for the privilege.
Article directories – Very similar to blog networks, write your content, control your links, and send it out to hundreds of low-quality content websites.
Guest Posts – Seen as a fairly safe tactic, you would approach a blog that was relevant to your audience, write a great piece and add a link in your author profile, and sometimes within the content.
Infographics – A (sometimes) cool graphic you have created where you encourage publishers to paste a snippet of code that you control, usually with a link back to the said infographic. My guess is you’ve probably already got the point I am trying to make, what makes your link strategy fail (in the long term) has nothing to do with tactics, and everything to do with the obsession around link control.
If you are engaging in any tactics that allow you to control your links, the content they are in, or the anchor text you use, then I can absolutely guarantee you that your link strategy will fall down in the future. Everything Google has done with regard to links, particularly over the past few years, has been targeted at tactics that display an element of control. When you begin to control the links you acquire they cease to be editorial and I believe Google only really wants to count editorial links.
What does this mean?
It means that you need to become worth talking about, and when you promote your awesome content, ideas, events, data, etc You shouldn’t worry about the links, where they are on the page, what anchor text they use, and the fact they don’t go back to your money page. Anchor text will eventually come back to bite you, so you have no reason for wanting to control this aspect of your links anyway.
Still do your outreach, social advertising, and chase up mentions of your brand, but care less about what your links look like, let go of them and let people link back to you how they see fit. It’s tough because historically bad links have worked, anchor text was king, and if a page had no links it couldn’t compete. However, things are changing, natural link strategies are working and so should your focus.
As the title says, it’s time to let go of links and worry more about being link-worthy. One thing to remember is that links you control will come back to bite you, but links you don’t control can do the same. Whether it is a negative SEO attack or someone scraping your content, keep an eye on your profile and disavow any nasty links that come through.