Warning: Link building is addictive.
It’s like working out. Once you get going and you see results, you want to keep on. You want to do more and more but what happens if you slow down or stop your efforts? With exercise, you’ll gain weight again, most likely. With links, it’s not as straightforward.
Will stopping, or slowing down, raise a red flag? Will your past results look like they came about through spammy efforts? Will your current results remain in place when there’s no more actively driven effort?
Here’s the thing about basic SEO…there are principles in place that, once enacted, can indeed produce excellent results. Theoretically, if you did practice good SEO and you optimized your site perfectly, you should rank highly and stay there. However, this rarely happens. The industry changes, as we’ve most recently seen with the amazing popularity of social media. That alone has caused many people to rethink their marketing strategies. People also game the system. Thus, if you sit around not doing a whole lot, you’re going to get passed by, and quickly.
With link building, things can get extra complicated. Look at any backlink history graph and, chances are, you’ll see something that makes you wonder what exactly happened at a specific point. Why are there spikes? What happened? You’ve probably done the same thing with traffic in your analytics package.
That’s because, in most cases, there was something that occurred to cause a blip of some sort. Since link building is such a well known and much abused marketing tactic, it’s only natural that this might raise a red flag. Stopping a full-scale link building effort can easily produce one of these weird little points in time on your graph.
Conversely, people DO become addicted to links. They want more and more and more, never thinking about what will happen when they do slow down. If links aren’t pursued with traffic in mind, only rankings, the traffic isn’t going to match the massive increase in links most likely. That’s a bit of a red flag, don’t you think?
One of the problems with always wanting more is that you end up with a strict quantity mindset. You want 50 more links, but you don’t stop to think about alternate ways to get them, or different pages to work on, or anchor text variations. You just want more links. As you probably know, all links are not the same. You can get a massive boost in rankings from one fantastic authority link, and the traffic that comes with a link like that can equal what you’d get from 1000 crappy little links on blogs that no one ever sees.
So my answer is no, you can’t stop. You shouldn’t stop. However, keep going for the right reasons and don’t just get greedy. Recognize that link building is a continual effort but that, with the right links, it can certainly be easier than if you do it poorly.