Google Advises Against Manual Link Building
It’s no secret that backlinks play a key role in where and how a website ranks in the search engines. Websites with a large number of backlinks from relevant, authoritative sources will reap the benefits of higher search rankings. It’s just that simple. But a recent statement made by Google’s John Mueller is causing some controversy among webmasters.
In a recent English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout video published on YouTube, Mueller advises webmasters to avoid manual link building, suggesting it could do more harm than good. This statement is somewhat contradictory to what other Google engineers have said, leaving many people to question who is right and who is wrong.
So, what exactly did Mueller say to generate such a wave of criticism? When a user asked about manual link building, Mueller responded, “That is a good question. In general, I’d try to avoid that [manual link building] so that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content.”
What Mueller is trying to say is that webmasters shouldn’t go out of their way to create links. If you are spending more time trying to create links than you are actually creating content and building your site, you are probably doing it wrong. Links should come natural, and with little effort; otherwise, it could have a negative impact on your site’s rankings.
The bottom line is that backlinks still play a major role in search engine optimization (SEO). Google, Bing, Yahoo and even the smaller, lower-tier search engines view them as a ranking signal. However, in order for backlinks to have a positive impact on your site, they should come from natural sources that haven’t been manipulated by you or anyone else.
If Google based search rankings strictly on the number of backlinks a website has, anyone could rank their website for practically any term. But Google pays close attention to subtle details within a site’s backlink portfolio, such as the number of outbound links on the page, relevancy between the link source and linked website, and whether the link was created naturally or manually by the webmaster.
Now for the million-dollar question question: how do I attract backlinks to my website without manually creating them by hand? If you want other webmasters and users to link back to your website, you need to create high-quality content. Most webmasters (myself included) link back to other websites because the website is an authoritative figure. If your content is viewed in such high regards, you’ll find backlinks are easier to obtain.
To recap, you should focus your link-building efforts around high-quality content. By doing this, other webmasters will create natural links to your site — links that hold more influence over SEO than manual links.
What are your thoughts on manual link building? Let us know in the comments section below!