Link Building – Why It’s Gotten Harder

by Gary on May 14, 2008 · 13 comments

in Back Links,Blogging,Link Strategies,Organic SEO,SEO

In a previous post of mine I stated that “organic link building is making more and more sense“. A statement I definitely believe but a statement with lots of things going on behind it. Nowadays if you look at your own link building campaign efforts and compare it to the amount of effort you needed to get quality links it the past to boost page rank you will see that it is becoming harder and harder to get good links. The reasons?

  • Changing/improving search engine algorithms – Search engines are getting better and better with determining the quality and relevancy of links. As an example, if you’ve read my previous post on the Domain Age Factor in Links you already know that MSN Live Search factors in not just the domain age of your own page but the domain age of the pages linking to you as well. What this means is that even amassing a large amount of links is no longer enough if search engines deem those links are low quality links.
  • Blogging Politics – In an excellent albeit pretty cynical post by Michael Arrington he discussed how the “salad days” of bloggers constantly linking to each other “in a state of brotherly or sisterly love” is now over. Simply put the good days of getting organic links easily are gone. This is because as he says the politics of blogging has shifted so that the blogging politically savvy never link out just for the sake of it. Links are seen as a very important commodity so that links are only given out by bloggers if they’ll benefit from it. Other blogs, even those maintained by people you admire, now becomes a threat and are seen as sources of competition. Sounds really sad huh? You should note though that this game of blogging politics are really played only by bloggers who want to make the most out of the money floating out there and in the end Arrington points out that this thing is disruptive to the blogosphere. Whether you agree to this thing or not though the sad truth is that there ARE bloggers playing this game and these are the very same bloggers that have great enough blogs to be sources of excellent link juice. With them staying away from sharing link love it makes organic link building all the more harder. So if you can not rely on organic link building alone (which is understandable for those who need to grow their links faster) then by all means go around fishing for links, however, you should try to find the blogs that seem to still link out for the sake of it or you’ll be wasting your time on some blogs where you won’t have much hope of getting any link unless you have something to offer in return.

So now that organic link building is harder why do I still say that it makes more sense to go organic? The reason is simple…because it is even harder to get results the non-organic way. By non-organic I mean buying links and spamming. Though there are bloggers out there not willing to share link love any more there are still lots that link to other bloggers for the mere reason that they liked an entry or admire someone.

As Matan pointed out though, you would want those that link to you to include keywords in the anchor text. In the case of organic link building though since you really do not know when a blog/website will link to you what you should do is keep track of inbound links and check out the anchor text by those linking to you. If you see really vague terms used like “read this” or “this link” then you have the option of contacting the blogger and suggesting a few keywords. For the most part, especially if the blog is a tech blog, the blogger will easily understand your concern. Of course all this should be done with tact. Be pushy and haughty and the link might even be removed. In the end the harder part is to get the links than to ensure that keywords included in the anchor text.

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  • Stu

    I guess you devalue anything by giving it away. Although if we’re not selling dofollowed text links any more, they have no real value anyway.

    I think if people are refusing to link out because they’re hoarding link juice, they’re kidding themselves

  • Jayson

    Agreed – it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to get good links. People are stingy and for good reason (I guess?).

    As more people catch on and more people rely on organic rankings, it seems like the job of a search engine gets easier.

  • Vincent

    Maybe more people started to realize that giving away links was what gives other’s website more worth, so they started to go a little bit slow about that.

    One of the reason that they will now put a link on their website is that this website is really worthy. I think that search engines now know about this psychology and try to use this to rank the best website.

  • alvin

    I think it its fair enough for the blogger to get what is due to their blogs. And for those commentators to at least sweat for what they want after the blog.

  • Matan Media

    Great post and response Gary, the whole link building game definitely has become a tad more difficult ;)

    I also believe the way forward is organic. Building up a good number of organic links and perhaps adding in just a few anchor text rich links to push specific keyword rankings.

  • amelia

    I agree that link building is really getting harder nowadays

  • Ronald

    Yes link building is not an easy task. From the latest updates of search engines and the sophisticated minds of webmasters to know that the link is good or not then I agree that link building is a task that need a great effort. What we have to do is be patient and do what is right from the search engine’s point of view.

  • michaelj72

    I just found your site and am reading some of the pages mostly about link building/strategies and seo optimization stuff etc and have to give you a thanks for the concise and useful posts. I ahd forgotteen about the domain age factor for links and have seen other articles about claiming it’s a pretty important aspect of seo. so sometimes the link building might not pay off until more down the road…….thanks for the reminder

  • Dave S

    In my book its all about quality links. I have recently been trying SEO spyglass software, which anyalyses all the inbound links to a site, including anchor text, domain age of the linking site etc & then it gives a link value, plus an Alexa rank. The combination of these two values seems to go some way to confirming which links are regarded the highest. Obviously each search engine is different, but I tested a few examples by interlinking my own sites (PR2 & at least 5 years old) with relevent anchor text etc & found that my own links scored very well in both categories. I also found a site the other day (PR5) which had just 5 inbound links, but one was the only link from the home page of a PR6 site & the anchor text included the main keywords for the business – it came up at the top of P1 on Google for the same search term. With this in mind I wont be spending days getting thousands of links in future, I think its all about QUALITY not quantity!!

  • Dave S

    I agree that people are more likely to chase or exchange links with sites that already have good Google PR, BUT wouldn’t it be a good policy to check out how many & what quality of links are already coming into that site to see what potential PR could be? Obviously it takes a while for links to be converted to PR, so you could pick up some sites with good potential a lot easier than sites with existing PR2+

  • Jane

    Yes, link building is getting harder. I think you can get a chance to have someone link to your website or blog and share it with others when they found quality content and when your post is a big issue that is being talked about.

  • Ken Sundheim

    Obtaining .edu Links While Helping With Someone’s Education

    If you own a company or are a wiz at online marketing (I’m sure if you are reading this, you can’ be half bad or you’re on your way), there is a great way to not only get .edu links, but to help younger college students as well.

    1. Many colleges have a list of “employers which recruit” on their website. Typically, to get on this list, you have to either pay money to the school to attend a career fair or you have to do a big favor for the career department. Though, instead of making it all about yourself, offer to mentor a student or two. College students need to know online marketing. Teach them.

    2. Advertising your company. Many colleges, if you are a viable company, will allow you to advertise on their website. Some will let you with a donation of around $300 for the year. Again, you know that the money is going towards something positive.

    3. Writing articles. Many universities are more than happy to look over any material which would help their students. Anybody reading this should reach out and help younger grads learn online marketing / SEO.

    Ken Sundheim
    President
    KAS Sales Recruitment and Marketing Staffing