The need for diversity in link building was demonstrated yet again today with Moz’s latest post, “Dear Google, Links from YouMoz Don't Violate Your Quality Guidelines.”
A sample link from Moz—specifically YouMoz—was shown as an example link of why a reconsideration request failed.
This has spurned yet another debate about whether links within guest blogging should all be nofollowed, what makes guest blogging safe, and whether guest blogging should have dofollow links at all, regardless of editorial standards.
The fact of the matter is that you need diverse tactics in your overall link building strategy, or you’re setting yourself up for failure.
It doesn’t matter which tactic you’re using – if that’s your only method of securing links, you’re creating an unnatural backlink profile. You need to implement diverse tactics comprising an entire strategy – not a singular link building tactic.
Creating a strategy within link building is often overlooked. Link knowledge is often shared in tactical terms: how to build EDU links, how to find high quality prospects, how to manage blogger outreach, how to perform a competitor backlink analysis.
This is but a piece of why diverse tactics matter so much within link building, however. There are five different concrete reasons why link building campaigns should include diverse tactics:
- Google’s Shifting Guidelines
- Scaling a single tactic is often viewed as manipulative
- Algorithms excel at finding patterns
- Customized campaigns are more likely to be successful
- Real links translate to real business value
Let’s tackle them one at a time.
1. Google’s Shifting Guidelines
SEO is by nature a quickly adapting industry. The web, although now hard to imagine life without, is a relatively new invention and only recently fully accepted by our society.
SEO is in near constant flux with the evolution, adaptation, and advancement of technologies. The web and supporting tech are advancing at nearly inconceivable rates.
Beyond just the technology constantly adapting, Google itself is a quickly changing entity. They’ve only been around for a mere 15 years, and already they’ve done so much, affected so much. Their Webmaster Guidelines, which they force website owners everywhere to follow, on pain of banishment, have experienced similar change.
And with their control over a large portion of the internet’s traffic, banishment is no idle punishment.
Every SEO has experienced the frustration of changing policies at Google. Even minor shifts can cause panic, for good reason. And all too often the changes aren’t relatively minor.
The most likely way to be caught by Google’s shifting guidelines is to overinvest in a single tactic – particularly if that tactic is prone to abuse.
Just look at this most recent post at Moz. Moz is clearly worried about their perception, and the fate of their community, which heavily relies upon guest contributors. If guest blogging is no longer safe, Moz’s community will undoubtedly falter.
Prior to Matt Cutts’ rant many considered guest blogging to be a supremely safe, white hat tactic.
The point is that using a singular link building tactic isn’t a good idea. You never know when, how, or why Google’s guidelines will shift.
2. Scaling a Singular Link Building Tactic is Manipulative
Google’s guidelines against link schemes clearly state:
“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
Considering the language, Google’s well within their purview to call a singular link building activity at scale manipulative, and thus a link scheme.
And, according to the comments on Moz’s post, especially Marie Hayne’s which sits at the top, it appears to be overuse of a single tactic which caused the penalty.
Human nature pushes us all to find the path of least resistance. When working we want to find the easiest, most effective tactic and drive it into the ground. To make it easier, faster, better, stronger.
As link builders we have to overcome this instinctual desire and invest in the long term, think strategically, and invest intelligently.
Intelligent investment always involves diverse investment. To build real links that will achieve real business goals we must utilize diverse tactics. It’s not enough to find the tactic that’s working best, and likely being abused most, and spend all our energy there.
We need to look to the future, ensure we’re making intelligent choices, and plan accordingly.
If we only ever pursue a singular tactic, our work will be viewed as manipulative. And you can bet Google’s algorithm will be able to spot the work we’ve done – algorithms excel at spotting patterns.
3. Algorithms Excel at Spotting Patterns
Algorithms are based upon recognizing patterns.
I’m not saying we should hide our work from Google, but that doesn’t mean we should be making it easier to determine where SEO influence has been involved, either.
Again, I refer to Rand’s post over at Moz. If you believe the comments, despite clearly building real, valuable links, overinvesting into a singular tactic created a pattern that flagged a manual review, resulting in a penalty.
Realistically speaking, Google has too much power to trust explicitly. Between changing technologies, the amount of websites online, and their imperative need to retain their majority in search, Google has little incentive to spend time or effort helping singular websites.
If they were to help every website penalized, or that feels unfairly excluded from their search results, or even deserving of more visibility, they’d have time for little else. It’s simply not possible.
Google’s a giant, and their algorithms are never 100% perfect. They will always have an acceptable level of “incidental damage.”
Implementing a variety of tactics to build links will help improve your ability to survive Google algorithm updates, changes, and shifts. Using only a single link building tactic will result in an easy to identify pattern, likely making you part of the damage – incidental or not.
4. Customized Campaigns Are More Likely To Be Successful
Basing your link building efforts on whichever tactic is currently in the limelight means that you’re creating a one-size-fits-all solution.
The reality is that every campaign needs to be different based upon the client, the website, the company, the industry, the niche, the brand, and business goals. Customization matters, greatly.
Accepting that every campaign will be different, and that every website will have a variety of factors that dictate which tactics will have the highest chance of success will allow you to build customized campaigns.
Taking the time to make a truly customized plan for diverse link building tactics which will complement one another will greatly increase the likelihood of campaign success. Especially if your tactics are dictated based upon the opportunities present and the business goals of the website.
Professional work dictates diverse tactics, which should translate to campaign success.
5. Real Links Translate to Real Business Value
Shoehorning a single link building tactic onto any given website typically results in links that typically have only SEO value.
Creating a custom campaign based upon the website’s audience, brand, niche, and unique business value will return more links that make sense, which are much more likely to translate to real business value beyond search visibility.
The power of links beyond rankings is often discussed online, and the fact of the matter is that building links with business objectives in mind are the best way to secure these extra benefits.
These links aren’t a standardized type you can build with a blindfold. You need to make a link building strategy that takes into account many different link tactics.
One we often talk about at Page One Power is building links in conjunction with other online marketing campaigns. We refer to it as “complementary marketing.” Is the website running a content marketing initiative? Great – we can work with that to supercharge our link building efforts. What about a social media initiative? We can use that to fuel or link processes as well.
The point is link building isn’t a standalone process. Using a single tactic however will make it into a standalone process, and lessen its value while potentially putting your website at risk.
The odds of building real links, and adding real business value with those links, goes up substantially when you work with diverse tactics and plans.
Link building requires diverse tactics to create a viable, comprehensive strategy. Although it’s possible to gain search visibility and SEO traction with a singular link building tactic, it often results in short term gains.
Link building, like all other online marketing activities, requires long term goals, plans, and objectives. There are a variety of reasons it’s imperative to use diverse tactics to create a comprehensive link building strategy:
- Google’s shifting guidelines
- Scaling a singular tactic is manipulative
- Algorithms excel at detecting patterns
- Customized campaigns are typically more successful
- Real links translate to real business value
Invest in links properly, long term, and you’ll be happier for it. Shortcuts are often a temporary solution.