Google’s John Mueller answered a question about natural links and mentioned that outreach link building is okay as long as certain lines were not crossed.
Build Quality Content and Get Links to It
The person asking the question had just had his question about link exchanges answered. So now he was commenting about the nature of a natural link, what it is.
He framed it in the context of quality content.
“Like, we have to create the quality content, naturally people will give us link. That’s only natural or something because…”
Mueller Validates Link Building Outreach… to a Point
John Mueller did not use the words link building or outreach.
However the substance of what he said was about the process of outreaching to publishers to let them know about content. This is generally known as outreach link building.
The strategy is to create content that publishers would be interested in linking to and then promoting it to publishers who tend to link to that kind of content.
John Mueller commented on outreach for link building:
“That’s essentially the idea behind kind of natural linking.
From our point of view it’s fine to contact people and tell them it’s like by the way, I have this great content and… maybe it’s something that you would appreciate for your website.
That’s generally fine.”
When Outreach Link Building Violates Google’s Guidelines
Outreach link building can also go against Google’s guidelines.
There are many forms of outreach link building. For example, soliciting a publisher to offer them money to place links on their site is also called outreach link building.
That kind of link building is usually misrepresented to clients as outreach link building when in reality it’s a paid link that was arranged through an outreach.
True outreach link building is publishing interesting content and telling others about it.
John Mueller comments on how outreach link building can go bad:
“But anything beyond that where you’re saying like, well… you must link to me like this or you must pay me money or I will pay you money for this link or I will exchange something for this link…
That’s all something that from our point of view would make this an unnatural link.
So providing it to people and promoting it and saying like here’s great content and they link to you that’s perfectly fine.
Um… providing it and saying like I will do an exchange if you give me a link, that’s something we would consider unnatural.”
Is Outreach Link Building Outdated?
Getting a publisher to link to a site is difficult and near impossible for some sites, regardless of how high quality their content is.
What makes the process even harder is that people have more options for expressing themselves today than back in the heyday of blogging.
Unfortunately these platforms that people express themselves on, like social media and YouTube, do not provide links that can help a site rank better.
The world that PageRank was created for no longer exists.
Yet publishers are still under pressure to obtain links from an online ecosystem where links increasingly do not exist.
The idea of building great content and asking someone to link to it is seemingly an outdated concept because people today express themselves in contexts that do not support links.
Watch Google’s John Mueller discuss link outreach from about the 11 minute mark.