diberry - 5:39 pm on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)
Google is also most certainly not looking at just links alone... it's also looking at traffic and engagement and signs of user satisfaction... so a more efficient approach would be to consider link building that way from the start, and not to see if you can trick Google into falling for the same old tricks with lipstick on them.
Agreed. This may be my bias because my background is traditional marketing, not SEO. At one time, marketing wasn't good enough because the algo didn't know if your users were pleased or not.
I believe in the past two years, they've gotten much, much better at recognizing user satisfaction. I think traditional SEO is dead, and SEO is now merging with traditional marketing. Reach people who will like your site and convert in some way or another, and Google will follow.
I'll tell you something I've learned. Whenever I write a really exceptionally awesome page, I'll alert authoritative sites in my niche. They'll link out to me, and thousands of people will visit in one day (and then other sites will link as well). That's all great for traffic and earnings, but guess what? If the visitors coming from the authority site respond to my page with enthusiasm - leaving comments, bookmarking/subscribing, sharing it socially - that site will rocket up the SERPs. Sometimes to #1 inside a day. But if the response from visitors is lukewarm (even when content is great, it isn't always going to grab people), so is the position in the SERPs. Is Google somehow assigning different PR from two links, both from the same authority site? That seems unlikely. I think they're tracking the user response, and when I generate a great user response, I get higher in the SERPs.
So that is my idea of link building. Aim for the user response, not just the traffic or the link itself. Try to create a slew of positive user response signals - that's what Google is looking for.
Further anecdotal evidence: of all my sites, my Penguinized one is the least capable of generating a great user response. It's a good site, it's just not great - visitors liked it, but didn't love it. Since Penguin hit in April, there have been no significant changes to my backlink profile - no links lost or gained. But I'm improving the site, and users are sharing and converting more enthusiastically... and I'm slowly gaining in the SERPs. I don't think it's anything to do with pagerank, since the links haven't really changed. I think it's purely down to user satisfaction, and once this site is really pleasing users, the SERPs will reflect that.