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Philosophical Thoughts On Link Building
Posted 17 May 2008 - 03:13 PM
Some people will tell you that your effort is better spent making your website really awesome, so other webmasters will voluntarily link to it, than it is in trying to get other people to link to it. And along with that, in making your website really awesome you're probably going to be increasing your site's conversion rate and increasing the likelihood that visitors will come back to it. All of these lend themselves to more sales at your website, which is the ultimate goal in the efforts of most people who are doing SEO.
I think it’d be pretty foolish to make no effort at all to get a few links to your website. If you start a new website you’re going to have to do at least a few small things to get the ball rolling. That aside, do you think it’s generally true that your effort is better spent improving your website than it is in trying to get links to your website?
Let me put this, and a few other questions in a list. If you feel like posting an answer to any of these questions, great! If not maybe it’ll just be something for you to think about.
1. Is having a great (and let’s say well SE code-optimized website) enough in today’s world to get you a first page SE ranking without having to go through the rigmarole of link building?
2. Do you know of any cases in recent months where great websites naturally rose to the top of SERPS without having link building campaigns?
3. Do webmasters really link to other websites for the simple fact that they’re great, and maybe even have some resources their visitors would appreciate?
4. Think about all the links on the internet, from one site to another. Do you think that the majority of these are links to great websites, or are they the result of link building campaigns?
If the majority of links from one website to another are the result of link building campaigns (and I suspect that they are), then what we have here is another case of Google and all the other SEs rewarding the effort and resources of webmasters.
Would you say that the majority of #1 spot listings on SERPS for business related terms are had by those who’ve made the most effort, and/or spent the most money on SEO? And if that’s not the case, don’t you think that’s the direction we’re heading?
I believe that if this trend continues the day will come where every #1 SERP result (at least for business) will be had by he/she who made the most effort, and/or spent the most money, and overall wanted it the most.
It seems to me that Google and any other SE whose sincere goal is to provide relevant results to those who use it is fighting a loosing battle. They revise their algorithm to try and produce more relevant and quality results, and for a little while this works until all the SEO gurus find a way to beat the system, and once again we’re back to SERPs where the #1 spots are held by those who want them the most. This cycle could go on forever, and in the end none of the SEs will be able to beat us. They can’t beat us. They’re running out of the things to tweak with the solely text-based system they’re using, and we’re gaining ground on them.
I believe it’s going to come down to one of two things:
1. Google and all the other SEs accepting the fact that they can’t beat us, and having us pay them instead of other people. Money is going to be spent getting websites to the #1 positions. It might as well be going to the SEs themselves, instead of SEOs. They’re already capitalizing on this with their PPC programs. But there would be tremendous more opportunity for them in the organic results.
2. A shift from solely text-based algorithms into ones that use elements like visual layout and psychology. This wouldn’t come as the result of tweaks to current algorithms. It’d be one of the existing SEs or a new company starting from the ground up with something revolutionary.
Anyway, just some things to think about.
Posted 17 May 2008 - 03:44 PM
Absolutely not. Great websites don't get found on their own, you of course have to create the great website AND get the word out about it. You can't do just one or the other as they go hand in hand.
I don't think anyone at this forum has ever said otherwise.
Posted 18 May 2008 - 08:48 AM
To answer your questions directly...
1. No, it's not enough. But it's a darned good start! Not to mention that having a really good site with awesome content makes the whole link building process considerably easier.
2. No. That's not the way it works. Never has been.
3. Yes. Many webmasters link to other sites simply because they're a fantastic resource.
4. The answer is Neither. There aren't that many truly great web sites out there. Though often links will appear to great information about a specific subject, even if the entire web site would not be considered great. Conversly, for truly great sites and/or sites that are great resources only a small percentage of overall links are there directly due to a linking campaign where Webmaster A contacted Webmaster B asking for a link. The majority are indrectly due to this, because some links are needed to get to the point where people looking for information can find a great site or great resource.
In your it'll come down to two things section you're forgetting one main element.
The biggest problem the search engines have today, and have always had for that matter, is trying to determine exactly what someone is looking for when they conduct a search. For example, when someone searches for a phrase are they looking for general information about the subject of their search, are the simply looking for free information, or are they looking to purchase something?
Most keyword searches are too general, so the engines are left to guess what the user is really looking for. In turn, since their goal is to provide links to what the searcher is looking for, the engines are left to guess a bit. In most cases delivering a mixture of result types.
Edited by Randy, 18 May 2008 - 08:55 AM.
Posted 19 May 2008 - 10:40 AM
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Posted 20 May 2008 - 02:06 PM
On the other hand, "letting people know your site exists" != "the rigmarole of link building". At least, not necessarily.
For most websites, it probably requires fewer links than you might think to do well. Most pages really don't need thousands, or even hundreds, of inbound links to gain respectable rank for traffic-generating search terms.
There are lots of things you can do to bring your site to the attention of other webmasters (who might be inclined to link to you if the information or resources you offer are interesting / unusual / valuable enough) that don't involve begging for links at all. Sure, maybe submit to a directory or two to get the ball rolling. If there are complimentary businesses you could plausibly approach with a valid benefit proposition (not just "let's trade links to rank better in the search engines"), by all means approach them.
Between Ye Olde Day Jobbe, clients and my personal portfolio, I manage a LOT of websites. I link out to other sites all the time, often as a result of an article I read in a blog or a press release or a recommendation from a friend. In the past four and a half years, exactly one of those links has been granted as the result of a formal link request. And that's because it was personally written to me, from an individual at another company that offered a product very complimentary (but not competitive) to ours. And she asked nicely.
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