Lalit Sharma

Reasons why 2016 will not be the year link building died

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a really hot topic for many individuals partly because these many individuals own websites. There is no one who does not have a web page attributed to them- even fifteen year olds have blogs nowadays. Anyway that is beside the point. Over the years there have been prophesies of how content marketing and link earning are going to replace link building. Well, these SEO prophets of doom have not been so lucky in the past few years and by the looks of things this is not going to be changing in 2016 either.

It is not possible to dispute the fact that many SEO practitioners are not paying so much attention to manual link building anymore. However, this is not to say that it is not important for search optimization. Link building is one strategy that plays a vital role in SEO and without the strategic pursuit of links you are going to miss out on a lot. One thing that is most beneficial about link building is the fact that it works for businesses of all sizes.

Link building as it has evolved

It is not the first time that people are predicting the death of link building and it definitely is not the last. Link acquisition continues to evolve over the years. It has come a very long ways since the days before Penguin stopped being an adorable bird and became the feared algorithm used by Google to destroy websites. Before this algorithm was launched, link building was teeming with spam and automation. In this era, it was quantity that mattered and not quality.

Penguin has not been able to get rid of all spam sites of course but generally a good number of sites have lost their ranking thanks to being linked to spam sites. This algorithm has helped to spruce up the link building industry. Another update of Penguin is going to be released by the first quarter end or so said Google. Be that as it may, it is hard to deny the fact that links have always been at the core of Google’s initial search algorithm.

Google’s algorithm used to count links as votes of confidence in the site. It is this that made Google the best in the first place. As such, links remain an integral part of Google and the search engine continues to invest in links as a signal. Each update that Google makes on the Penguin algorithm simply makes links much better as a signal.

When Penguin walked into the industry in 2012, many SEO professionals shifted from manual link building. The reason for this is that they were not earning the links that they wanted. Penguin went on a massive witch hunt of spam sites and punished them. In the defense of all those who defected from the link building camp, Google was not all that upfront on what Penguin was looking for. Being an adaptive lot, SEO experts shifted to the growing field of content marketing. Currently there is no SEO agency that does not provide content marketing services.

Content marketing is not everything

To start off, let it be known that content marketing has been an important aspect of search engine optimization in 2015 and definitely it will be growing in 2016. Content helps you to earn links. The theory of link earning is always based on the assumption that if you have great content then you will gain links naturally through public awareness and social engagements. This all sounds fantastic but then it is worth pointing out that social engagements do not come overnight. Creating public awareness is also not a walk in the park. Research studies done by the likes of Moz and BuzzSumo have proven that link earning through social engagement is not exactly the case.

After analyzing more than one million articles, the studies revealed that there is no relationship between links and the social shares. According to the study, more than 50% of 750,000 well shared posts did not have any external links. This is just to say plainly that you can have thousands of shares but get zero links. Getting links has never and will never happen by accident. It has to be intentional, strategic and focused. In order to secure links you will have to promote the content to the right audience. There is no way you will ever secure the links that you deserve without putting in manual effort.

Links have their benefits

Both content marketing and link building have the same goal- to earn links. The links are the ones which prove the site to be an authoritative source of information on a particular topic. On top of this, links bring in lots of value to your marketing campaign beyond SEO. This includes the likes of:

  • Capturing new audiences
  • Creating new online relationships and connections
  • Referral traffic
  • Increases access points to your website
  • branding your site (builds authority, trust and awareness)

A missed link opportunity is more or less equal to a significant loss of marketing value. There are links that will come without any manual effort but then these are very few and far between. If you would like to take advantage of all the link opportunities that are available for you then you must pursue links strategically and manually.

Tips for proper link building

These are not exactly tips but more like reasons why link building can never be automated. For link building to be successful it requires:

  1. human creativity
  2. Promotional strategies
  3. Audience research
  4. marketing expertise
  5. Relationship building and human to human interaction

When you take these into consideration you will definitely have a fruitful link building experience. The results are also going to be excellent.


Manual link building can never be replaced by content marketing and ‘link earning’. It still is a very important aspect of SEO as it always has been since Google started out. Search engines use links to establish the popularity and authority of websites. Good manual link building is definitely going to bring in great returns.

Lalit Sharma

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