Link Building For Search When Google Does Not Exist

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Let’s all take the time to stop checking our rankings, searching for new blogs in TLA and sending link request emails to envision an alternate universe, a world wide web where Google does not exist. An Internet where link anchor text does not influence ranking, because link based ranking does not exist.

Let us pretend that only on-page content and some other form of ranking algorithm, like consumer ratings, influence how users find web sites, and linking means nothing in terms of search. For a moment, let’s believe that PageRank is still a distant dream of Larry Page, who left Stanford to open a hugely successful In-N-Out Burger franchise and Matt Cutts followed up his NSA internship with a job at Booze Allen or possibly went down the road of stand up comedy.

Sure, it sounds like some sort of Zen riddle, but if Google did not exist … would you still build links? Instead of trying to build links to rank highly in Google, if Google did not exist, what would you link for? Relevant traffic of course.

If Google did not exist and Matt Cutts & the spam team were not picking through sites looking to penalize and expose sites which sell links or break the Google Webmaster Guidelines; wouldn’t you take a whole entire different approach to link building?

Here are the ways I would practice my link building in a world with no Google.

1. Directories: No longer would anchor text heavy links from meaningless sites and directories have value and no longer would there be a market for freebie directories which accept any anchor text or link heavy spam sites set up for the sole purpose of selling anchor text links.

Directories such as DMOZ, Best of the Web, Aviva, and others would then be what they were originally intended to become, a starting point to the web and web navigational tool. Therefore, titles in web site listings within these directories would not be beneficial if the anchor text were used, instead Click Thru Percentage would be more important and listing title copywriting would be of more importance.

In a world with no Google, anchor text is not important anymore.

2. Blog Comments & No Follow : Essentially, blog commenting would still be full of spam, since links can be used to build traffic, so I don’t think trackback spamming and bogus comments would go away, but with the Google demand out of the picture, there would be less of such foolishness.

But in terms of organic linking, I would continue to post comments in blogs as a form of link building and reputation building. These would only be in relevant blogs or posts which are associated with my business or the business of a client. If NoFollow were around still, for some other reason, I would ignore whether or not a blog used NoFollow.

I would post on every relevant blog post I had the time to do so on. Back in the day, we used to do this in forums and email newsgroups .. lend relevant information and add a link in the signature. There would be no reason not to continue to do so in blogs. The end result would be a random ratio of blog posts in blogs using NoFollow and those which do not. I would also mix up my link text to influence Click Thru Percentage again and also the content of the response.

3. Link Advertising : I would also participate in link advertising with this same mindset. Who cares if a link is NoFollow’d or organic? If you are building links with traffic in mind then purchase java redirect links, nofollow’d links and organic links in a blend of diverse link ads which are placed on relevant sites across the Internet.

I would make sure these links are placed in visible areas. Not in the footer of news sites or any site where web surfers and readers would not see them, but in the direct view of the reader. Paying a bit extra, in my opinion, is worth the investment.

Similarly, I would set up exclusivity plans with sites I’m buying these high profile links, or even banners on, where none of my competition could buy a similar link. If the site directs relevant traffic which we can track, I’d set up a revenue sharing plan with these sites to secure a permanent link with little upfront costs. Again, such negotiations are worth the time and investment.

4. Public Relations and Editorial Placements : Reaching out to bloggers and news publishers with an active audience would be extremely powerful in a world without Google because those power links in the stories that everyone is reading. Having a link from USA Today would be incredibly powerful because it’s syndicated to so many other sources.

Press releases would still be useful, but mass press release firms that only exist to syndicate content in Google News or Google listings would not be as important. BusinessWire, MarketWire and Eric Ward’s URLWire would be essential to web product launchings, but close participation and relationships with influential web bloggers and journalists would be key.

I recently worked on a blogging project for Barry Williams (yes, Greg Brady) and good PR and communications have already led to coverage of the social project in USAToday, WashingtonPost, AdAge and New York Magazine. These authority links are eternally valuable in a world with Google, or without.

5. Presell Pages or Hosted Marketing Pages : I remember back in the days before Google I was working for a company which sold licensed I Love Lucy products. We located all of the I Love Lucy fan sites we could via the Yahoo Directory, DMOZ and UCmore. Then, each site linked out to other I Love Lucy sites, both personal or professional, via sidebar links or web rings (remember web rings?).

I then contacted these site owners, asking for coverage of the products I was representing. Some of the site owners were so happy we had reached out to them that they set up an entire page about the products, and linked to that page from their navigational linking. Back then, we were happy to get a link or a mention, but these product pages which are now referred to in the industry as Presell or Hosted Marketing Pages had much more influence than we could have imagined. And that was 8 years ago and those listings still exist today.

6. Blog Reviews : In a world without Google I would contact webmasters and influence them via praise or payment to set up such product pages on their sites. In the blogging world, we call these same ideals blog reviews and although some of the blog review brokers have databases full of amateur or spammy blog sites, they have a great deal of authority and respected blogs in their libraries as well.

Take Search Engine Journal for example, we have over 14,000 RSS Subscribers as tracked by Feedburner and 7,000 + readers a day from search engines and external blog coverage. If you are launching a product or service for the search marketing industry, wouldn’t it make sense to try and obtain some coverage on this site?

(See that Contact The Journal link to the left? Take advantage of it!!)

You can pay for blog reviews or develop relationships with those bloggers asking for reviews. Just do it. In return your product, site or service will attract the eye balls of hundreds, thousands or millions of readers. And that coverage includes a link to your site, which will bring traffic and may bring sales.

7. Guest Authoring : In a world without Google, mass article distribution sites would not have the value they have now, because now they more or less only exist so novice link builders can distribute an article with a footer link to hundreds of these sites, hoping to influence Google rankings.

Sure, shows up for just about every Google query, but the site itself was developed to be an article database for email newsletters to use, not really any website. In a world without Google I would identify 20 or so sites, blogs or veritcle portals to contribute original articles to, and make sure those articles link to the source, which is the site I own or represent.

Coming back to the Search Engine Journal example, I was told that one of my contributing authors landed a $80K deal via a referral that came from an article they contributed to this site (heck, maybe I should charge people to contribute). The point is, a carefully and strategically placed article on one authority site has much more value than mass distributed articles, in a world with or without Google.

Ranking in Google By Not Linking for Google

These are just some examples of how linking like one who lives in a world without Google would theoretically result in better rankings in Google itself via high quality and authority linkage and placements. SEO should be performed with the end user in mind, and linking performed with alternative forms of ROI besides Google rankings.

With so many webmasters practicing link building with the intent to undermine or manipulate Google rankings, the end result is an Internet chocked full of trash or otherwise respectable blogs or dating sites littering their great ideas, such as blog awards and viral site badges, with hidden links…. killing their own reputation or those of their advertisers.

Sometimes when I look at Google rankings for the keyterms which I am trying to rank on or my clients are, I’m exposed to all kinds of spammy listings, and a quick check of those backlinks exposes tricky and transparent techniques used to trick Google.

But I assure myself, and my clients, those sites will come and go, like someone cutting off traffic during rush hour, cutting in line at McDonalds or a crotch rocket swerving in and out of cars, they will get their just deserves in the end. If you can steer the steady path of righteousness, and plan a smart linking campaign with long term effects in mind, you can sit back, see how those cheaters work, and perhaps learn from them.

The conundrum in this Zen Koan, If Google does not exist, how would you link build for Google?, is that by link building without the goal of manipulating Google rankings, and by convincing yourself that Google does not exist, one can in fact, link build incredibly efficiently, especially for Google and other search engines.

Your thoughts?

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
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  • Catfish

    I don’t see why what your saying is mutually exclusive to Google existing. You should do all those things that you have mentioned, just request an rel=nofollow tag for links you buy. I don’t see why that is such a big deal for people who aren’t trying to inflate their own rankings by buying links. Everyone gets in an uproar that Google is trying to control linking when in fact, no one at Google ever said not to do these things. Just let the search engines know they are paid because they don’t constitute an editorial vote. And if you don’t want to play by the engine’s guidelines, don’t be shocked when you don’t rank well or they devalue your link passing ability. Google doesn’t owe anybody anything. It’s their search tool that everyone wants to use because it’s superior to their competition. So until that changes, Web masters who want to do well in Google on a consistent basis without fear of a sudden rankings drop need to adhere to their best practices. And they doesn’t exclude any of the Internet marketing techniques you have listed in this article. They are just saying to add a small snippet of code that takes 5 seconds to type onto links you pay for. Why is that so hard?

  • Michael Martinez

    Good article, Loren. The less relevant Google is to a marketing strategy, the more powerful that strategy becomes.

  • Marius

    Actually a great article. One of the most interesting I have read lately. But I don’t think this will happen. Or at least not in the near future.

  • John

    Great read indeed.
    Relevancy is the key as fas as traffic goes. But what I think is, all those strategies that you stated when Google did not exist still hold in good stead. What everybody cares for is traffic – and forums, blog-comments or link advertising are all great for relevant traffic.
    I think- all these techniques are also not in violation of Google’s present TOS as none of those are for Page Rank – but purely for traffic.

  • CBR

    I remember and it was not so long ago I used to trade links and banners for nothing but traffic. This was the way it was meant to work until Google created the big “issue” we have today. Maybe just maybe a change will be in the wind sooner than we think and we will all have to build good sites for users again with real content and functionality…

  • Joy

    Interesting article but it would be more interesting if this will happen in real life..^^

    I agree with you that those people who are trying to manipulate Google’s Search result rankings in a spammy way will surely get what they deserve.

    Thanks for the interesting post Loren!

  • aassssddd

    Nofollow wouldn’t exist on links i would assume

  • make money blogging

    What an interesting perspective. Makes you wonder if Google is the biggest part of the problem doesnt it?, funny when you strip it down the way you have the the lowest common denominator is still Google. I personally dont “hoard” PR or even give a hoot about it, I link out liberally. I dont invest in links back yet, though have considered it. Its getting tougher to build a sense of community with everyone watching google so closely and hanging on every Algo update. I really wish more people wouldnt be so concerned with that garbage. In my mind The web-o-sphere is about sharing info. No hoarding PR, or worrying about what Big G is doing but unfortunately thats the way it is

  • Lazer Kesim

    Interesting article but it would be more interesting if this will happen in real life

  • LaTease Rikard

    A very true statement: “Reaching out to bloggers and news publishers with an active audience would be extremely powerful in a world without Google because those power links in the stories that everyone is reading.”

    I learned that this week on a post for my offbeat blog.

    Also, a world without Google would mean that many of the spammy sites might go away.

  • Egyptian Mau Breeders

    By far the best article I have come across on this website, but with a world without google what kind of world would it be?

  • Disney Movie

    Interesting article but it would be more interesting if this will happen in real life

  • Cappadocia Tours

    I learned that this week on a post for my offbeat blog.

  • Disney Pictures

    lol 🙂 sounds interesting

  • Alina Vacariu

    thank you

  • Football Pictures

    cool info

  • Seo Danışmanı

    great man

  • Sinema izle


  • Creditos

    this is one of the best seo related articles that i have read over the years, amazing


  • Sohbet


  • dibyendu banerjee

    My name is dibyendu banerjee,I am from India, I have some problem with my site r not ranking with google, yahoo, msn…..

    for last 2 months we are continuously building links with different directory but not yet found proper rank. so I am little bit confused
    what to do. I am sure about my sites are technically all right.

    looking forward to your response


    Dibyendu Banerjee

  • TeasasTips

    @dibyendu banerjee–I recommend to spend 1-2 hours per day commenting on relevant blogs that are dofollow. You can quickly build up substantial traffic and relevant linkbacks in the process.

  • dibyendu banerjee

    thanks for your tips.
    What I have to do with blogs which you suggest. If you please send your tips in details it would better for me, though I have been spending 3 hour per day to building the links with directory. and one more things please clarify that is there any technical problem or not.
    waiting for your response.

  • TeasasTips

    instant message me at


  • dibyendu

    This is dibyendu from india, currently I am working with this site (seo work) but unfortunately my site getting rank with yahoo, but not able to get rank with google and aol, it’s really confuse. so could you help me out,



  • Claire

    Wow Loren, I rather wish Google didn’t exist, except we would simply replace it with some new monster. Yes, I know it’s an effective search engine – but there has to be a better way to achieve fairness for webmasters. There are millions of sites out there that never see the light of day because results are so monopolised by those who have the finance and connections to achieve their ends. Phew. I will get of my soap box now. Thanks for a thought provoking article ;o)

  • davidyes

    Nice article.
    Please specify info about fact alink anchor.
    Need more explain.

    Best regards,