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Am I the only one here who doesn't do "link-building"?

 7:31 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

For years and years I have read about failed link-building attempts when someone has acquired too many, too fast or some other reason because that person has been told the only way to get better rankings in Google is to continually build more links.

I've watched Google videos, I've read about it, I've seen recommendations however I have never in 16+ years not once asked anyone for a link, I couldn't even tell you what my PR is on any site, I've never once bothered to look yet some seem to refer to it as the Holy Grail.

I certainly have plenty of spammy competing sites in my widget sector yet I concentrate in delivering on my sites what I as a tradesperson would expect to find and for an educated retail buyer that essential information that they need to know.

Am I the only one who works this way?



 6:00 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

We also get the weekly batch of link exchange requests. We ignore them. They are typically quite entertaining. Often citing some obscure remote page on out site as an authority site that could benefit from linking with their spammy domain with no content.

The part that cracks me up. They always send you a link to a "links" page that already has a link to your site. Most the time this links page has thousands of other outbound links and almost always is never linked to from their main homepage anywhere.

Awfully pathetic.


 6:30 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

somebody with deep pockets decides they want to dominate my niche, I'm sure they could do that, but they might find it difficult to recoup the large expense that would entail.

Nope. Check out how the big SEO firms are doing their job these days. They're managing to mostly automate obtaining reasonable quality on-topic links. They can get a continual stream of those links in your niche if they want to.

It's a lot less difficult for them than you might think. The only solution I've got is keeping my head down and trying to stay so far ahead that even with automation it's just too difficult to stay ahead. Resting on my laurels isn't part of the equation.


 6:58 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

They're managing to mostly automate obtaining reasonable quality on-topic links.

This can only work for a short period of time. After a while their automations start to look like a pattern. But unfortunately it is usually enough to get them in the door of serps, and once they get there they start getting organic/natural links. And once that starts, it is almost impossible to kill the weed that has sprouted in your niche.


 7:11 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

This can only work for a short period of time. After a while their automations start to look like a pattern.

Nope, not anymore. I've seen a bit of this type of automation, and it sure doesn't look pattern driven to me.

You can assume that the brighter folks in the industry already know as much or more than the rest of us about patterns and know how to prevent them. Not all the sharp tacks are working at Google.


 7:25 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you don't actively pursue link building you will eventually fall behind other sites in the serps.

This is how some of them stay on top. They have software that records new backlinks from competing domains. It's difficult and demoralizing to write informative stuff in you niche when it is immediately copied, words changed, slightly altered just enough and republished in various locations by your competitors. You can never really get ahead.

[edited by: MrHard at 7:37 pm (utc) on Oct 26, 2010]


 7:28 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't build links. Years ago when link exchanges were de rigueur and I had an ecommerce store, I asked for some exchanges, and never noticed their making a difference.

I considered it when I got into content writing, but what with "Build backlinks the quick-and-easy way!" being shouted from one end of SEO to another, it didn't make sense to me - I mean, if everyone is loudly gaming the system, that means the game's going to be over soon, right?

Since building the links takes more time and discipline than writing new content, and I like writing better, I focus on new content. I publish in both low and moderate competition niches. It can be slow-going sometimes, but I write evergreen stuff so the content can wait to get noticed. So far, the lack of link building doesn't seem to hurt when it comes to the content that's on third party sites that already have page rank.

I can't tell yet whether it works for my own websites, which are still tiny and only get traffic that seems to be dispensed from an eyedropper. I think if I did build backlinks, those sites would see a lot more traffic.


 8:28 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Am I the only one who works this way?"

Never asked for a link in my life. I do have a snippet of code available at the bottom of each page indicating how to link to "this page".

But actually soliciting links? Never in 12+ years and I have thousands of links back to quality content.


 8:54 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just for the record:

Most of the sites I build and manage have very few links but do reasonably well in SERPS. I do not ask for links but one of my newer customers does seek them.

Two of my sites I actively ask for links:

a) a directory which adds "please link to us" on the submission page and in the confirmation email;

b) a genealogy site which asks for a link in the "please help" query confirmation emails (unlikely to link as most have no web site).


 10:40 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's certainly big business nowadays. I wish I could go back to 2002 or earlier. And I hate seeing all those write.demandstudios.com referrals...we know what they're up to.


 11:05 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

It would seem social media-heavy, review and popular opinion websites / aggregators have a distinct advantage as they use the social angle to attract both interest and small community clusters to pages. I see those types of websites being able to generate more natural inbound links, easier these days without "active" promotion.

Just another reason why it is important to build a social aspect into everything we do.


 12:14 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

@cainIV i hear you.


 12:30 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I seemed to get spammed by people wanting link exchanges several times a week. Its never anyone who even remotely has the same content as my website and sometimes it is just weird as they have never actually looked at my site before asking for a link exchange.

I don't really link to other sites myself from my site unless it is directly related to my own content and relevant to do so.


 1:07 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I link the way it should be (my opinion): pages that have relevant content for my visitors.

I suspect others do the same to me. (And they do)

All good.

I don't go LOOKING for links, I certainly do not go BEGGING for links. So... count me as one who does not do "link building".


 3:11 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

The sites I work for (my day job at least) are PR6 to 8, with anywhere from 200k to 2m backlinks. I think I am directly responsible (in the last three years of managing them) for about 20 of those links.

My work is built on ensuring that the content we provide is presented in such a great manner, in such an easy way to find/share/use (by both the public and the engines) that those backlinks are built naturally.

I believe that there is a place for promotion/marketing - but that's not what I do, and so far I haven't needed to.


 11:06 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

These conversations always seem to slide around the point that in very competitive niches, you don't rank if you don't link build. If you are ranking without it, you are enjoying the luxury of not being in a competitive niche.

I have unique content. Lots of it, and some of the best content in the world. I believe I have received one unsolicited good quality link in about 5 years. And I only got that one because a reporter was researching a topic and I ranked due to link building.

Not link building isn't a sign of virtue. It's simply a sign that you don't have lots of serious competition. And that can change.


 12:40 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interesting thread that's pretty much divided between those that link build religiously and see much benefit in that, and those that don't link build at all, many of whom have no intentions of starting now. And there, above us all, like an intense summer thunderstorm, sits Google, full of sound & fury, and signifying...........?



 1:37 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is a certain amount of link development that needs to be undertaken when the site is new. Assuming that initial period has passed successfully, with good content, and ongoing marketing activity in general, links tend to flow.

Bad sites with weak content have to work at it. Good sites with strong and original content will often be discovered and linked.

I rarely ask for a link. I usually like to use methods to entice other sites to link to the quality content through promotion. Once the target audience get to see the offering they often link without request.

Many years back I used to be concerned with getting huge numbers of links. It was easy then as everyone linked to everyone. Today, i'd rather have a few very special links.


 2:20 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's simply a sign that you don't have lots of serious competition.

I have a lot of very serious global competition, not simply focussed on one specific country market, and many of them are very active in building good quality sites as well as many others building some really spammy keyword domain name and keyword stuffed sites...they're the ones that really pi$$ me off!


 2:24 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Depends on the idiot telling the tale. I guess we'll find out tomorrow...

I've found the alchemists need links. People making money from existing. Affiliates, for example.

Ecoms need very few links, just differentiated content, a bit of age, and manufacturer links.

Info, well that's difficult. I'm with wheel on that- if you don't need links, you're in a quiet backwater. If that's you, please bare in mind your SEO and webmaster experience will be VASTLY different from some others. Advice may not be pertinant, traffic will me more variable, and you will be at the mercy of the Google Gods for apparently arbitrary ranking movement. Importantly, if you don't have a quantity of IBLs that can only be SOURCED, you will not have enough tangible connection to the outside world such that it can anchor and define you.


 4:27 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

These conversations always seem to slide around the point that in very competitive niches, you don't rank if you don't link build. If you are ranking without it, you are enjoying the luxury of not being in a competitive niche.

The #1 spot for the term viagra in Google is from the U.S. National Institute of Health, and I doubt they did any link building to get to that spot. Authoritative or interesting sites may get enough unsolicited links to rank even in competitive areas.


 6:09 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Jane, we can always find an exception, and that's all that you've provided. For those of us not fortunate to own a .gov, what do the other 9 sites look like for that term? In fact, what do the next 50 websites look like? How would an independent pharmacy looking to do some online business compete online in that market? Put up some unique content and wait for links? Clearly, they would get nowhere. You're attempting to provide a counterexample when in fact the results you're looking at are a clear example of what I'm talking about.

I have a B2C site where I market products directly to consumers. I also enjoy the pleasure of my niche being one of the higher paying affiliate niches. So not only do I compete against every B2C company in my niche, I've got all the top affiliates piling on as well. I've actually done pretty good in this niche in the US but because it's so competitive, pulled back into my country where we enjoy security through obscurity. But someday some big money and/or affiliates are going to wake up in this country. And when that happens, all the rinkydink small business in my niche who are doing business online? they're going to suffer the fate of U.S. companies in my niche - gone.

To take that pharmacy example further, even if you're an independent pharmacy and had a good site, what the heck are you going to put up for unique content on viagra? Just about nothing. Again, we can provide isolated examples, but for the 100th pharmacy trying to compete, again we're back to no unique content. And then who is going to link to that site of their own accord? Nobody. OK, maybe one. But do way enough links to get them on the radar for any viagra terms.

Again, if you're enjoying the luxury of a non-competitive niche, enjoy it while it lasts.


 6:58 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

To me, it looks like a kind of Catch-22 situation. In order for a site to get a lot of natural links, first it has to have a lot of traffic. (If nobody sees it, nobody will link to it.) But in order to get a lot of traffic, first it needs a lot of links. So it's a Catch-22.


 7:20 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Am I the only one here who doesn't do "link-building"?

Link building is not important in an obscure industrial niche most people have never heard of. Search traffic is not an important part of marketing this kind of extreme niche. Not to pick on the OP, but I think this point is important to clarify about the OP and the site he is discussing. I think it's fair to point this out since the discussion is about the OPs experience with their site.

It is unfair to someone new to the web to state that one doesn't do link building without making it clear that the site in question does not rely on search traffic. It is important to make a disclaimer that the site in question is an industrial niche few people have heard of and that has few competitors. Otherwise we run the risk of giving false hope to a business person who is starting out in a niche that really does need to build links.

Let's get back to reality. Niches with low prospects for monetization will not need aggressive link building. A site about pictures of flags of the world is not going to need link building. The majority of the visitors are image rippers. Niches for extreme niche topics that have low keywword volume and low search traffic also do not need dedicated link building.

I am in agreement with the OP and many of the others in this discussion who share his point about not engaging in daily link building. I haven't done link building for one of my several sites in years because it is mature and acquires links automatically. But that didn't happen all by itself. At one point years ago I had to build the groundwork for that success in a competitive niche. My point is that there is a caveat that has been left out and it's time to put it back in. ;)

A site about hotels in Miami is going to need link building. A site, brand, or business that is not well known has to acquire links to rank better. A business with an established brand has built-in goodwill and will acquire links that way. But that goodwill did not come without effort, either. ;)

[edited by: martinibuster at 7:32 pm (utc) on Oct 27, 2010]


 7:29 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

As someone pointed out earlier, it depends on the niche really and where you want to get your traffic from Need SE traffic ? build links to rank at the top is the only option there.

BUT social media promotion is proving to be a viable alternative to traditional link building / google dependence provided that the product/service is really solving audience need.

( We launched new site in September 09 and currently get 90,000+ monthly page views HUNDRED percent from referral streams - craigslist + facebook + twitter combination. ZERO link building done)

@tedster hits the nail on its head as usual..


 7:34 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

BUT social media promotion is proving to be a viable alternative to traditional link building...

I agree. Social media is a different way of building links and it's certainly more active than sitting on one's behind waiting for links to happen. Social media can bring traffic, but it also serves to build awareness. Building awareness is one of the cornerstones of building links. It can be as simple as handing someone a business card at a networking event and saying, "Hey, check out my site. You will find it useful."

Google used to have a recommedation about link building where they encouraged site owners to contact other site owners and let them know about their site. Twitter and Facebook neatly fold into this kind of promotion. This is the part of link building that is misunderstood and lost in the forest of gimme-gimme link building.


 8:00 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

It is important to make a disclaimer that the site in question is an industrial niche few people have heard of and that has few competitors.

I really do wish that were true. My sites are part of the largest industrial sector there is, construction. Construction internationally is so large they do not even have any accurate figures for it since so much of it is not actually recorded or reported.

The products are for consumers, public works projects, high-end residential and, naturally, office blocks, shopping malls, hotels and many, many other developments.

There is massive competition worldwide especially from, in alphabetical order, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Turkey just to name but a few and a lot of the companies from these countries have spent serious money for their web presence.

Why would there be so many keyword domains and keyword stuffed MFAs around if it were so little known and of lesser value?

Possibly one may look at one of my specific sites and conclude that there couldn't possibly be a lot of competition however I can assure you there is in bucket loads.


 8:38 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

For those of us not fortunate to own a .gov, what do the other 9 sites look like for that term?

The listing I see is about half spam and half authority sites. You don't have to have a .gov site to have an authority site. I only picked the .gov in my example because it is unlikely they have done any link building.

I agree with martinibuster that new sites need link building. But once a site matures it is possible to have a high traffic site in areas with lots of competition without active link building if you get enough natural links. This is especially true if the links are from selective authority sites, because those are the kind of links the heavily SEOed sites usually can't obtain. A handful of those kind of link can go a long way over thousands of fake wordpress blog links.


 8:43 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I can assure you there is in bucket loads.

Certainly there is worldwide competition for construction equipment but that competition does not translate into bucketloads of keyword phrases to be chased after on the search engines. What that means is that building links is not a necessary component for marketing your kind of website.

The point that I want to make clear is that your business is not the kind that relies on search traffic because there isn't bucketloads of search traffic for phrases like "kerbing machines". Consequently, link building for your niche is not necessary because your site does not rely on search traffic. It may be a part of the mix, but the search traffic is so low it's not really as important as it may be to a hotel, ecommerce site, etc.

I am not disputing that you do not need to be active in link building. Just pointing out that your case is different from the mainstream of businesses that rely on search traffic. And on second thought, your site may be in the same situation as one of my sites in that it is already established and does not need to build any more links that it already has to sustain itself.


 8:58 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Good sites with strong and original content will often be discovered and linked.

Yes, but in today's world of ever-growing Facebook use, where it is MUCH EASIER to "Like" a site than it is to link to a site, will the game change? Like's from FB are no followed.

I have a page on my ecommerce site that sells one of our most popular items. It has been around for about two years now. There are 20 facebook likes for it, but I don't see a single followable external link to it. And I have only had the facebook like button on their for about 6 months.

Now, that item is geared toward women who are in the 18 to 35, medium income and above demographic, so it is ideal for facebook users.

So if an admittedly small site with ZERO marketing budget gets 20 facebook likes in 6 months but no external links in 2 years, what are the implications for getting discovered and linked naturally?

On another note: tedster says that he believes strongly that facebook, twitter and digg send value signals to google (hope that is an accurate paraphrase, tedster, and I apologize if not). But would it be better for a webmaster to remove the facebook like button from their sites in order to "force" people to link to them?


 9:01 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Oh, and one other thing about that particular page.

the item featured on it is a WINTER item, so the actual product has been SOLD OUT for 6 months. And it still got those FB likes.



 10:27 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

You're quite right martinibuster, it's important to disclose certain details as a disclaimer so as not to give new webmasters the wrong idea.

I started my main site in 2004. At that time I obtained two PR5 homepage links, one from another site I controlled in the same niche, and one from a former employer in another niche. I also traded links with several dozen other sites and directories, which got me some more very good links.

Since my niche was not very competitive at the time (it has since become much more so because people figured out that you can make money with adsense, whereas before adsense there was virtually no way to monitize my sort of content), this was enough to get me to the top of a handful of medium-traffic SERPs. That got me enough traffic that people started using my content and linking to it.

After that, it took several years to reach the traffic levels and rankings I have now. That traffic is now enough to provide roughly the income of a single full-time job.

Certainly if you are in a big-money niche or promoting a large business or both, you will obviously have to be more aggressive in some way. Maybe that would mean doing traditional "link building" or maybe it would mean doing other forms of advertising and promotion, including social media, offline advertising, trade and business associations and relationships, networking, guest blogging etc.

And let me be clear: I'm not just sitting back and waiting for people to link to me voluntarily. My terms of use require that people link to me if they use my content, and I require them to explicitly agree to do so before they can download it, and I actively seek out people who are using my content and politely but firmly ask them to link.

So I for one didn't mean to imply that I think you can succeed by just putting up some great content and sitting back and waiting for links. As I said, you have to get the ball rolling.

What I am saying is, at least in my niche, once you have achieved a certain critical mass you can build links more effectively and efficiently by posting more and better content than you can by actively seeking out links. At least, that's been my experience. YMMV.

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