Is Link Building Dead?

Link building has long been touted as the most effective form of SEO. There is an endless litany of training courses, tutorial books, and software that all claim to hold the secret to effective link building (and therefore unbeatable Google rankings and organic search traffic). However, would your current approach to online marketing change if you suddenly discovered that link building has become ineffective in all but the most specific of circumstances? This article discusses whether link building is dead, and demonstrates how proper content marketing is actually a far more effective strategy for most online marketers than link building ever could be.

Is link building dead? Yes (potentially)

Although this might seem like a very extreme argument to make, there is strong evidence to suggest that link building is a waste of time. Google’s search algorithms are placing increasing emphasis on the quality and relevancy of content being delivered to users, as opposed to the use of link building to artificially inflate the perceived value of a website by forcing it to rank higher in the search engines. Fundamentally, Google seems to be undertaking a concerted effort to reward websites that focus on delivering an exceptional experience through great content, as opposed to those that use other SEO methods (such as link building and on-page optimization) to “plaster over the cracks”.

Close examination of Google’s intent regarding updates such as Panda and Penguin reveals an irrefutable trend towards content quality and social interaction as being the most crucial factors in determining search rankings. There is no example of any Google algorithm refresh or update that has ever specifically targeted websites with too much unique content. Therefore, if you are focusing on link building while neglecting your on-site content, then you could be heading for serious trouble in the future.

Transition from link building to content marketing

Instead of dedicating your energy to link building, you should focus on content marketing as the cornerstone of your SEO efforts. The easiest way to get started is to simply add more content to your website or blog. Even if you can only spare the time to add another article every week, that is better than nothing. However, you should also seriously consider substituting the time you allocate to link building for content creation instead. By following such a strategy in the interim you are basically taking out insurance against future Google search algorithm updates that will undoubtedly target websites relying on excessive link building.

Over time you should aim to expand your content marketing into a fully-blown strategy. This should involve dedicating certain days to writing articles or blog posts, other days to repurposing content into videos and podcasts and distributing through alternative channels, as well as time to tweak and edit existing content to keep it fresh and relevant. It also helps to plan what you are going to write or create well in advance, so that you can perform adequate research and avoid lagging behind in your schedule.

Encourage social interaction

One of the most important (and frequently overlooked) aspects of an effective content marketing strategy is encouraging social interaction with your audience. Social media is becoming one of the most crucial factors in effective SEO, and by increasing the visibility of your content on social media channels you are going to improve your chances of getting first page Google rankings. You will also reap the benefit of referral traffic from social sharing, which can be an extremely targeted source of leads. Every piece of content you create needs to be shared through multiple social channels, with no exceptions. You should also encourage your readers to actively share your content as well; calls-to-action at the end of articles are very effective for this purpose.


All signs point to the conclusion that link building is becoming less effective over time (and this trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon). Google’s recent search algorithm changes have all focused on devaluing websites that use artificial SEO methods, such as low quality link building, and replaced them in the search rankings with websites that deliver exceptional content.  Start afresh by adding more unique content to your website, encourage your readers to share it through social media, and you will be on your way to SEO success.

Is link building dead? Maybe not 100%, but the nails are slowly being hammered into the coffin. If you enjoyed this blog post I would really appreciate you sharing it with your friends and family. Just use one of the floating social share icons to the left.

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