SEO Isn’t Just About Link Building. Don’t Overlook These Expert Strategies.


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Humans like to think in a simplistic way. We like to categorize concepts and see things in black and white. We like to ignore nuances for the sake of a one-sentence summary. And when it comes to complex marketing strategies like search engine optimization (SEO), we like to summarize hypothetical approaches in a handful of actionable tactics.

Maybe that’s why so many modern SEO experts have tried to make SEO synonymous with link building. But here’s the thing, while link building is important to SEO, it’s not the only factor to consider. And if you focus too much on link building, it could end up costing you a chance to get to the top spot.

Related: How to modify an obsolete link building strategy

SEO and link building

First of all, we need to recognize that link building is very important for SEO. This is mainly because links have a closely interconnected relationship with the authority of your domain. The authority of your domain is an invisible score that represents the reliability of your site in the eyes of Google and other search engines. The higher this authority, the more reliable your site will look and the higher you will rank in relevant searches.

While the background system for evaluating link quality is sophisticated, it is very true that the more links you have and the more authority these links have, the higher the authority of your domain. Creating links to websites that already have high authority will pass part of that authority to you, accelerating the increase in authority of your domain.

Related: Why is link building so controversial?

However, focusing exclusively on link building will sabotage your campaign. While it is very difficult to increase the authority of your domain without creating active links, if you focus on creating links exclusively or too much, it will only work against you.

Basics of SEO without links

If you focus too much on link building, you’ll neglect other important elements of search engine optimization, such as:

  • Keyword research: First, there is the importance of keyword research and keyword targeting. As mentioned, a higher domain authority will make your business more likely to rank high in relevant searches. But what exactly are these searches relevant? What keywords do you target and what phrases do your customers use to find you? If you don’t know this, or if you don’t target any particular keyword, your strategy will have no purpose and the authority of your domain will do you no good to attract new organic traffic.
  • On-site technical SEO: Google tends to reward websites that are technically and functionally optimized. In other words, the better your site works and the easier it is to use, the higher it will rank. Not all links in the world will compensate for the fact that your site is not running on mobile devices or is loading incredibly slow. You need to make on-site technical SEO an integral part of your broader strategy.
  • In situ content: Of course, you should also focus on the content of your site. It is a vehicle for your keywords, providing a perfect opportunity to optimize your site for specific phrases. It is also an opportunity to create your domain authority naturally. Without this strong content on the site that serves as a focal point for your link building strategy, it will also cost you to create high quality links.
  • Off-site content: Modern link building revolves around masterful off-site content creation, which can be used to provide a link to a demanding publisher. If you focus too much on the link or the editor, you will neglect this content. As a result, not only will your link be weaker, but it can also damage your brand’s reputation.

The irony of an over-focus on link building

There is a bit of irony to focusing too much on link building because if you don’t focus on those other elements, link building becomes more difficult.

While it is possible to intentionally and manually create high-quality, natural-looking links to your website, it is also important to attract links naturally whenever possible. Partly because Google will penalize your website if you appear to be participating in link schemes, and partly because naturally attracted links tend to come from a variety of different sources, and ultimately increase your authority.

Related: 7 reasons why SEO is important for every startup

Without content (or bad content), you will never attract these natural links. You’re completely dependent on manual linking, and you won’t even have powerful content to serve as a destination for your new links.

I’m not here to attack link building. On the contrary, I think it is the most important element of SEO to master. But we must honestly acknowledge that link building is not the only aspect of SEO that you should pursue, and if you focus too much on link building, it will work against you.

Related: How to modify an obsolete link building strategy

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