Link Building: A Balancing Act

SMS Text

You think you’ve got a hold of it all
You haven’t got a hold at all
When you reach the top, get ready to drop
Prepare yourself for the fall, you’re gonna fall
It’s almost predictable

Get The Balance Right : Depeche Mode, 1983

No rest for the weary! How many people have decided to stop building inbound links, creating new content, etc. once they’ve reached a certain spot in the SERPs? Loads and loads and loads. I expect they cancel their gym memberships once they’ve lost those pesky 15 pounds, too. They reach a goal and relax, usually to their later detriment. And 15 extra pounds…

It’s very difficult to effectively communicate to someone that even though a goal has indeed been achieved, that result still has to be actively maintained. This is no more true for people who pay for links than for people who do everything wearing pristine white gloves. It’s a simple human behavior, to find something else to fix, so to speak.

However, you don’t have to be a fan of that prescient rock god (Dave Gahan!) to know that there is, in fact, a balance that must be achieved in order to have continued success. Cockiness formed by what can be a very fleeting SERP placement is laughable, but it’s also very, very widespread, in much the same way that arrogance about Google toolbar Page Rank seems to have people shouting to everyone that they’re a PR 6 and can do anything now. I remember an SEO once telling me that he’d stopped adding new content to his industry blog because it had achieved its goal of having a PR 4, so he was no longer doing anything with it. That was 2 years ago. It’s a PR 2 now. Not that it matters…ahem.

In that same line of thinking, how many people go after high quantity vs. high quality links? Again, loads and loads. These people really love buffets, I imagine. Then there are the people who will only pursue links of PR 6 and above, people who use Alexa (yes, still) and other metrics that the majority of us see as being just a bit too…worthless is the only word I can think of that sums it up. You can see how this type of thinking can easily throw things off balance. A backlink profile made up of only PR 6 a + links is going to look very suspicious, just like a profile where there is no “click here” anchor text and there are no references to the site’s name or URL will look strange.

I recently wrote an article about link spikes, and the danger involved with having one or two at random intervals. This goes hand in hand with what I’m saying here; you simply have to keep things balanced in some way, and that may mean continuing to link build even though you are currently number 1 in Google, because chances are you will no longer be number 1 in Google next month if you do nothing at all. Your competitors aren’t resting, so why should you?

Balance is absolutely critical for all of SEO. Link building happens to be expensive at times, though, and I’m not talking about buying links, I’m talking about the sheer effort behind many link building campaigns that involve linkbait, content creation, social media promotion, etc. In an economic downturn, it only makes sense that people are looking around for clues on how to cut their budgets. Sadly, link building (especially when really good rankings have been achieved) tends to be on the line much of the time. However, if you’re creative enough, you should be able to link build on ANY budget and keep things nicely balanced.

Julie Joyce owns the link development agency Link Fish Media, is one of SEO Chicks, and contributes to Search Engine Land and Search Marketing Gurus.

Julie Joyce
Julie Joyce owns the link development agency Link Fish Media, is one of SEO Chicks, and contributes to Search Engine Land and Search Marketing Gurus.
Julie Joyce

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  • kush soni

    I agree but only to some extent. It is purely a matter of authority and your website performance during the period. For example if you search for “men magazine” in Google you will surely find only and only on top slot. Many more examples are here ….. 🙂

  • Aaron

    Another thing to keep in mind is that your competitors for those top spots in the search engines are also adding links. If you stop link building once you are ahead, the competition will eventually pass you by and you will more than likely see your rankings drop.

  • Julie Joyce

    Excellent point Aaron. Generally speaking, if you stop building links, everyone will surpass you because they aren’t stopping.

  • Michael Martinez

    Link attrition does occur. One would hope that a site becomes a sufficiently useful resource that it attracts enough links to compensate for attrition.

    Then again, there is the stale content issue. Just how long should people keep linking to old articles? If there is a temporal aspect to their relevance, you need to keep producing new content or you’ll lose your momentum in link attraction.

  • Kenn

    Yes! I agree with Aaron…nice post.

  • Dana Lookadoo


    You’ve made me laugh now ANOTHER time this week. CANNOT imagine someone thinks one’s site arrives and “stopped adding new content” w/o extenuating circumstances.

    I recently spoke with someone who was going to replace SEO efforts with paid links, 60 in 30 days. That’s another side of the balancing act.

    Didn’t know Depeche Mode sang a song about link building. How appropriate! Great birthday post!

  • Jenny

    Continuous SEO is so important to remain at the position you’ve worked so hard for. It is unbelievable the amount of people that remain content and don’t strive to look at ways of staying in that position.
    Your point about competitors is a valuable one. Listings are always changing so it is vital to stay one step ahead no matter how good your listings are.

  • Julie Joyce

    Thanks everyone…what nice comments!

    Now if I can only find a way to work in Duran Duran to SEO…

  • Need More Backlinks?

    Interesting the Google advocates “natural” linkbuilding, yet the implication is from your link spikes post and this one, is that its “bad” to have natural linkbuilding and that you should try to “smooth it out” artificially by building links and monitoring the growth.

    Hardly natural!

  • kush soni

    I do agree that continuous work of SEO is required to be in the SERPs.