QUOTE(Mark S @ Oct 31 2005, 09:48 AM)
Erm, so Google can tell the difference between natural links and link building?
To a limited degree, yes. However, what my advice implies is something a little more substantial. Link building tends to focus on certain activities. One staple of link-building is to submit to directories.
Well, everyone submits to the same directories. If you believe that this will help build your PageRank, you have to understand that as more people submit to those directories, they will confer less and less PageRank to each outbound link.
A lot of people are looking to blogs for link building. Well, if you believe this will help your PageRank, you have to understand that as more people submit their links to those blogs, they will confer less and less PageRank to each outbound link.
Many people exchange links with other sites. Well, if you believe this will help your PageRank, you have to understand that as each site exchanges links with more sites, it will confer less and less PageRank to each link.
A lot of people now write articles and press releases for distribution through automated content services. Well, if you believe this helps your PageRank, you have to understand that as each service absorbs more artificial content, it will confer less and less PageRank to its content providers.
Do you see the pattern here? The link-building principle is self-defeating because there are only a handful of conventional methods of building links. Everyone uses those methods. Many people swarm over link-friendly sites. It's like a drug addiction. The more you do it, the less benefit you get from it, so you have to do it more.
This is what I call "hyperoptimization".
On the other hand, if you create content that a lot of people will link to naturally, odds are pretty good that you'll get a better, faster boost in rankings and importance because many of the sites linking to you don't play the link game.
Natural is always better than artificial.
Yes, it is VERY difficult to achieve that kind of popularity. But you will never achieve it through link building.
Link building is a vital and necessary part of joining the Web community (and therefore is important to fundamental search engine optimization).
However, link building has become, and probably will remain for a long time now, the least efficient means of adjusting your visibility and rankings in the SERPs. The SEO community is only just now beginning to recognize the problem, and there are many people who remain unconvinced, some of whom are simply too dense to understand that it's not all about links to begin with (all they do is preach link building).