How Many Links Should you Build in 2014? All of Them

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How Many Links Should you Build in 2014? All of Them

Link building isn’t dead. It’s still meaningful, it’s still valuable, and it still works. And it will continue to work until the web is replaced with direct digital downloading of all data directly to our brains, which I predict will happen just before the zombie apocalypse.

Over the years we’ve seen a lot of changes to how links can and should be built. While some links have lost all value, and some can even hurt you if you’re really, really bad at it (or were once really, really good at it, depending on your perspective), there are still quality links to be gained that can have an immense value in boosting your business in search engine rankings.

Link Building Still Matters

Link building is still meaningful, valuable, and still works. Google has finally been able to prevent crap links from being valued in the algorithm. This caused many SEOs to panic and declare link building dead, but really all Google did was what we’ve been wanting them to do for a long time: Stop valuing crappy links. That does the opposite of kill link building—it makes good link building more valuable.

Here’s a good way to test the quality of a link: If it’s easy to get, it’s crap.

The fact is, link building has always been hard (At least good link building). Ask any SEO worth their salt and they’ll tell you link building sucks. Why? Because it’s hard!

5 Things That Make a Good Link

The first question you should ask isn’t, “How do I build links?”, but rather, “What is a good link?” If you can answer that question, then you can go on to learn how to build good links. While we can argue about the merits of any individual link, on a global scale I can tell you the quality of a link by looking at five things.

A good link should be:

  1. On a site tangentially related to yours
  2. On a page with content relevant to the content being linked to
  3. Valuable to the reader
  4. Likely to be clicked by the reader
  5. Different from other link text to the same page (except for brand names)

It all comes down to relevance for the visitor. If it’s not relevant to them, then the search engines certainly don’t want to give you any points for the link. Keep your links relevant, on point, and look for opportunities to actually get targeted traffic from the link. After all, that’s the whole point of SEO.

One more thing I want to mention here. If Google could track every link that gets clicked (and they can track a lot), I guarantee they would not give value to a link that doesn’t get clicked. In fact, I suspect they will increase or decrease the value of a link based on how often it gets clicked (and by whom, but more on that later.)

If you’re still building links that you know won’t ever be clicked, you’re building into a failed system. Sooner or later, Google will add click-through data into their link algorithm and all those links you’ve been building since 2014 will be irrelevant. Don’t fall into the trap!

Social Links Matter, Too

Links are still an important part of the algorithm, and in my opinion, always will be. With that being said, links are becoming less relevant as other signals become more relevant. I’m specifically referring to social signals and shares. There is no doubt in my mind that socialization of content plays a very significant role in pushing sites up in the search engine rankings.

Social Media Links

Image by Ivelin Radkov via Shutterstock

My best guess is that links are on-par with social signals in terms of overall weight in the algorithm. As time goes on, that might continue to push more towards social or it might stay roughly even. Either way, social signals play a critical role in achieving what used to be done traditionally by “link building”.

If you want your link building efforts to be successful, you must be working the social side. And guess what? That’s hard too!

Working the social sphere is all about relationship building and engagement. You can’t just push your content on people and expect them to care. You have to engage with them so that they will care. And, like any good relationship, the caring has to go both ways. Don’t just look for opportunities for a quick link. Look for relationships that will pay off for years.

Bringing It All Back Around

Regardless if you’re getting a link on a blog, getting socialized on twitter, or finding other clever ways to promote your business, it all comes back to building something worthy of being linked to. Getting links is tough business but unless you do something worthy of the link, you’re making it even tougher.

Again, if you’re looking for easy, you’re looking in the wrong place. But if you have the patience to engage in creating valuable content and building the relationships you need to develop links, then every link you earn will return value back to your site.


Featured Image Credit: Used under license.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!, and President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading web presence optimization firm... Read Full Bio
Stoney G deGeyter
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  • Edward Nash

    How do you think google will be able to see how much a link is clicked on? Surely they will have to rely on both sites (the site the link is published on) and the site that is clicked through to have Google coding in their site.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      I’m not saying they can, but I certainly think they are working toward that goal. They have lots of data including toolbars, those logged in to Google, Google Analytics just to name three. Probably not enough to make a statistical guess but once they can I’m sure they will.

      • Marie Haynes

        They get a lot of data from Google Chrome use too.

  • Rusell Kovner

    I had also think “Link Building ” is dead and my most of the time is going to promote my products on social media sites, like : Google plus, twitter, facebook & stumble. But if they really worth it, i will definitely work on it.

  • Dean

    I see a lot of the pros putting more effort into private networks now and aged domains creating a secret group of sites on individual hosting accounts. The more experienced ones block tools like majestic seo and ahrefs from seeing them in link profiles, the result probably being highly reduced traffic given there private under the radar strategy. If these links do become devalued if and when Google include a click through rate then what does that leave us with lol! Blog, comments, forums, directories, reciprical, sitewide blog rolls all appear to be slated and not recommended now, possibly even articles. So the only solutions now are possibly articles being that social network signals were recently debunked by Matt Cutts sayingf they cannot access all social platforms. But articles only is a bad signal? Sigh!

    • Stoney deGeyter

      I would never advocate the “secret site” formula for rankings. Earning them is best!

  • Adegboye Adeniyi

    Hi Stoney,

    Social media matters only in the sense that , that is where people hang out. What happens if everyone boycotts social media? Will it still be relevant?

    • Stoney deGeyter

      I think that’s like asking what would happen if people boycotted politics, or voting. We know many already do but that doesn’t make it obsolete, because not everyone will. But like all things on the web, we have to be open to change. What’s hot today isn’t tomorrow. Things evolve and web marketing has to evolve with it, regardless of where it takes you. We go where the masses are and where Google is determining relevance.

  • Justin McGill @ Workado

    It’s becoming more about relationships in my opinion. Put together quality content then build the right relationships and you’ll have a winning combo. Links will come naturally then.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      Relationships is key to link building, authority building and customer building. Being focused on links alone is generally a bad strategy, but anything that builds links AND authority is smart marketing.

  • Robin Solanki

    Hey Stoney, I completely agree with you about the fact that a link that you get easily is crap. Link Earning is of far more importance than just building crappy links.

  • Jay

    I agree with everything you wrote. But what we have to do with the websites that promoting dishonest business, e.g. “fake diploma” or smth like that. I wanna mention that this is just an example. But there are a lot of businesses that are not completely honest.

    Hope you entered into my position.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      Jay, not sure there is anything we can do about dishonest businesses, other than to run our businesses the right way. Eventually the dishonest people get found out and the honest ones can be there to rebuild faith in the industry!

  • John Mercy

    Wow, Its a good post, even i was doing this before… now i understood the real value of Link building, thanks for post and its useful

  • Stephanie

    I agree with “Stop valuing crappy links”. There’s no easy way of getting the traffic you want than to do the valuable techniques and contents as well. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Jeric

    I’m still confuse about link relevancy. We have a competitor that has huge irrelevant links from the other sites but they still ranked higher than us.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      That MAY be due to the crappy links or it might be in spite of them. Lots of factors to consider. However crappy links still work sometimes.

      • Jeric

        I wish Google would slap them with their crappy and irrelevant links! xD

  • Syed Qasim

    Thanks for encouraging the quality link builders. Obviously we need to see quality, site relevancy and targeted traffic.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      Yep, I agree. Link building has value but it has to be valuable!

      • Syed Qasim Abbas

        But quality matters. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Asif Ameer

    First of all thanks a bunch for your article and I laugh out loud on Zombie thing hehe
    I am in agreement with you on Link Building isn’t dead. Recently I was working on small project the client desired keywords were not very competitive even then he wanted me to bring his site to on 1st page, trust me I just did quality 2 hours link building on his 5 pages website and within some days it was coming on first page of google without working on backlinks which was great.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      That’s an awesome testimonial for quality link building. I wish they were all that easy!

  • Ravi Chauhan

    I agree with great content! I think social media part most important for our business where we can promote our product and service as well as get backlink for website.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      The great thing about social media is that it rewards great content. Crappy stuff tends to fall away but the good stuff get’s a lot of shares.

  • Sunday

    Link building is still relevant, and I agree it would still be until the Zombie Apocalypse :D. We should not under estimate what link building stand for online success.

    This post makes us realize the best approach to link building that we should go for.

    A lot of lessons needs be learned from this post . If you ask me, there is still opportunity to build quality links!

  • Shameer

    The Possible fact you pointed out that “Google will add click-through data into their link algorithm” Freaks me out , this will make a lot work for a lot of people got to waste ,anyways thanks for heads up ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Stoney deGeyter

      While I mention it as a possibility, it may never happen. But I have no doubt that if Google could factor it in globally they would. We gotta think like search engines in order to stay ahead of the game. That will always be the way to deliver quality.

  • Sylviane Nuccio

    Hi Stoney,

    Very good post and I like your sense of humor.

    It’s amazing to me how people keep getting confuse about easy things such as this. Of course it’s the bad blog post that are not good. NOT the good one, and of course it the BAD links that are a no-no not the good natural ones.

    Thank you for clarifying this. I found you on Kingged.

    • Stoney deGeyter

      Thanks Sylviane! Quality almost always beats quantity. It’s easy to get quantity for a while, but getting quality is always hard and the reward is long-term!

  • Ann

    Hi Stoney,
    I have question, do all these contents and social media stuffs are enough to drive organic traffic from search engines ? How much these techniques helps to rank for various keywords? You said its difficulty to find good link and all you need to move to new content strategies and social medias. Then how the new strategies helps to promote your site for special keywords that have traffic?

    • Stoney deGeyter

      The downside of social media is that it doesn’t allow you to target rankings for specific pages you’ve optimized for a specific keyword. The best you can do is to link your content to the pages you want to rank using your keywords. But if it’s good content, the authority that that page builds will transfer through the link and help the page you want to rank. And, hopefully it will drive good traffic to that page as well, which might earn some authority of it’s own.

  • Stoney deGeyter

    Social media is an important aspect of SEO and rankings because it builds the trust an authority signals the search engines look for. There isn’t an exact causation between social likes and shares to rankings, but the correlations are pretty fantastic!

  • Ed

    Yeah, link building is hard. It takes effort to get quality links but the effect is long term.

  • Fausta

    I very much agree, the link building will always be a value for the position, you can not rely only on the social network. I myself have a well positioned website only with link building and seo on site. Thanks for the article. Fausta

  • brad k

    In my opinion, links exists for three purposrs. 1 is to help search engines rank your page for a given keyword target, 2 to help search engines discover new content, and 3 to help drive traffic to your pages. If your only goal is to influence rank of your pages in search results, then most link building efforts are dead.

    For me, getting traffic to my sites is my main objective regardless of what happens in search engine results. Search engines dont consume my content and buy my services, people do. It is all about traffic building, not link building!

    • Stoney deGeyter

      I would add, it’s about building quality traffic. Not just any traffic will do, but you want targeted traffic!

      • Brad K

        Sorry, should have been more specific. yes, quality traffic is key. Thought that was implied.

  • Inna Dunker

    Nice article.

    Link building is such an interesting practice and a complex one at that. Having said that, I feel like Google values simplicity, which plays into how people search – they want to be able to search for something mindlessly. So like you said google places a higher value on relevant links, that are found on relevant websites, where generalized (even authoritative) directories are holding less value if they’re not truly related. SO if web masters have to be more specific about their referring links than there are less options for building links using powerful free mediums like blogs, which leads me to believe that web masters are forced to buy more links than before through sites that are considered to be relevant and useful.


    • Stoney deGeyter

      Usually, making something simple is pretty complex. So when Google wants things to be simply, the algorithm behind that isn’t. I wouldn’t look for simple solutions with link building, but do look for whatever earns you a quality link that will drive value and traffic to your site.

  • Matt

    Point 5 shows how anchor text does not make a difference for SEO, but does this mean that the same anchor text to a domain should not be used more than once? (except brand keywords)

    • Stoney deGeyter

      Anchor text does matter, but so does overusing specific anchor text. But I would never say that you can’t ever use the same anchor text twice. In a natural environment, that’s impossible. But I would look at ways to use keywords inside anchor text that already makes sense for what the visitor is reading.

  • Irving

    Thank you for a great article on link building. I have been working on building backlinks through blogging and social media (e.g. FaceBook, Pinterest, etc.) and have had some success. I have been averaging around 400 – 500 new links a day. But I see so many adds for backlinking services where they claim they’ll get you 1,000 to as many as 5,000 backlinks within a short amount of time, usually within 30 – 60 days. My only concern is I can’t tell if these are white hat or black hat links. Is there anyway to really identify the quality of the links one of these services are offering? Thanks again for your post, I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Brad K

      anyone who claims they can produce X amount of links in a short period of time is gaming the system. I would not hire any link building service that is not 100% transparent about their link building tactics prior to spending a penny with them.

      You want to go after a few really good quality links a day instead of hundreds of sketchy ones.

      • Irving

        Thank you Brad for your comment, this is really helpful.

  • Stoney deGeyter

    You’re getting 400-500 new links a day? Links or social shares? If those truly are quality links then you don’t need to be considering any kind of link building service, you’re already miles ahead. Most site’s can’t generate more than a handful of links a day, unless they are high-authority industry sites with lots of original blog content going live daily. Anybody offering thousands of links in a short time are generally offering junk links.

    • Irving

      Thank you Stoney for your response. Yes I’m getting around 400 – 500 links a day but I’m also losing almost the same maybe a little less each day as well so it’s almost a wash. This is why I’ve been trying to build my backlinks a little more aggressively. Do you know of a reliable source that can help with building good white hat links? Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it.

      • Stoney deGeyter

        The best thing to do is to implement a content and social strategy. It’s a lot of work but the gains are long-term and the value you get for it are substantial, when done right. If you need help with that kind of strategy, my company helps people like you develop and implement social and content strategies that are meaningful and effective.

      • Irving

        Thank you Stoney
        I would love to utilize your services but at this stage I am still relatively new to SEO and Link Building (about 1 year into this), and don’t have a very large budget at this time. But I would like to look into your company once I have a little more stability. Thanks again for your response!