So, Tell Me Again, Which Links Will Count In The Future?

SEO extraordinaire Dee Barizo discusses the topic of long-term linkbuilding and how you should focus on the sort of links that will most likely still be relevant in the future.

Following on a video posted by Rand at SEOMoz, Dee suggests that the best way to answer this question is to focus on “links which would exist even if Google wasn’t around.”

Personally, I think that there is a major flaw in this line of thinking. It assumes that there is a definite answer to the question “Which links would exist even if Google wasn’t around?”

In asking this question, we’re supposed to answer a counterfactual that *just doesn’t match reality* – Google does exist, and Google’s existence colors the environment in which links exist.

Rather than focus on the sort of links that might exist even if Google wasn’t around (which asks us to build links as if we were in some alternative universe) I think that Dee’s answer to the question “What are the sort of links that will still be relevant in the future” is best found in another post that he made entitled The Value of a Balanced Link Portfolio.

You want a simple answer to an eminently important question? Here it is: if you want links that will count in the future, then focus on building a stable, balanced portfolio. Don’t use just one single strategy.

So really you just two need things: 1) links that will still be there in the future and 2) links from a variety of sources (directories, blog comments, blog posts, article posts, run of site sidebar, etc.)

One more principle: not all links need to be niche-relevant, but at least 60% of your links should be.

So let’s sum it up. For long term linkbuilding, it’s pretty straight forwad:

1. You want links that stand a fighting chance of still being there 12 months from now
2. You want links from a variety of sources, 60-80% of which are niche-relevant.

8 thoughts on “So, Tell Me Again, Which Links Will Count In The Future?

  1. Thanks everyone for your comments. And thanks for the mention, Ryan. I have 4 points to make.

    1. I think much of the disagreement about how to build links stems from the interpretation of “which links which would exist even if Google wasn’t around.”

    2. Paid links will always work. Just have to stay under the radar. Buy links from sites that don’t look like they’re selling links. Don’t leave footprints of your transaction by going to webmasters directly. Make sure the link is in the middle of content. Include links to reputable sites on the same piece of content.

    3. Don’t do what Google says. Find out what ranks and try to figure out why they rank. Then, do those things that cause them to rank.

    4. A balanced link profile helps because it makes your site look “natural”.

  2. Andy,

    I’m not saying that we ‘must do as Google says’ – I’m saying you look at what Google is telling us, then you look at what they’re ranking better, you look at how you can best grow your blog and then you figure out how to build links the best possible way.

    this probably needs a whole post of its own Or several posts…

  3. look at the long term trends: what types of links does Google keep telling us we should be building?

    See, there’s where I have a problem. I know it’s a case of ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’, but we’re in tricky territory once we start thinking that we all must do as Google says.

    In the real competitive commercialised world that we live in, people buy and sell links. Google are now in a strange place with regards this. They could drop a new algorithm that may be able to spot paid links and devalue them.

    Guess what happens next? Sitewides die, sidebar links get removed, footer links are dropped and people start playing hardball. Someone comes up with a way to inject links randomly within content (some people are already at this) and boom … it becomes several orders of magnitude more difficult for them to spot a paid link.

  4. nope. look at the long term trends: what types of links does Google keep telling us we should be building? what’s the trend in ranking websites, in what direction have we moved from 2003 to today?

  5. Since it changes from quarter to quarter, isn’t last quarter’s work worthless in the context of this quarter?

  6. Isn’t trying to figure out Google like trying to figure out whether the Philadelphia Eagles offense is great, good, or terrible?

  7. Wouldn’t it be easier to ‘figure out’ what type of links Google is looking for and go for them?

  8. BTW, on Rand’s theory, all advertisements should remove “nofollow” because no one in their right mind would use “nofollow” if Google weren’t around, and sponsorships would be direct links.

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