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Link Building Is Dumb. There are plenty of other SEO things to focus on. Google says so, kinda. If they did comment about these things they would say “don’t waste your time.” According to a few sources, most recently Search Metrics, there is a decreasing correlation between links and search engine results page positioning. Links are still important, but in all the categories of links that search engine marketers have direct control over, there is less and less correlation between those links and SERP position. Those links that SEMs don’t have control over, like social sharing and on news sites, have an increased correlation. Don’t mourn over the death of link building, long live link earning!Link building is hard, time consuming work. And the volume of links a site needs to have to really move the needle in ranking is unrealistic. You have to have over 2,000 links to really start moving up in position in Google. Will your new 5 links from random niche (hopefully relevant) directories really have an impact? Probably not, especially if those are nofollow links. How much time is your SEM spending identifying promising links, pitching or submitting your website, and following up to see if the link was “won.” Probably too much. What is the ROI on a won link? Who knows. There are plenty of other SEO tactics that need to be addressed before link building.
SEMs are experts in research and data analysis. They can help support your content authors and press team on topics to cover and when. SEMs need to work with the brand on leveraging their social and press better to take advantage of important link earning. The same amount of time spent on trying to acquire 5 mediocre links can be spent digging for a relevant piece of content to be written and identifying opportunities to leverage social media, resulting in improving brand reach and ultimately new relevant links! There was a time when link building wasn’t dumb. More links were better, quality of the links was an after thought. Google led us to believe that a link equaled a vote and the most votes won the ranking game. Because of that you might have pretty bad links out there, you might also have some pretty good ones that have broken over time. Maybe you went through a website redevelopment, a reorganization of content, a new URL naming convention...who knows. Well instead of link building, focus your attention on improving your link profile. Maybe call it “Link Profile Optimization.” Review your backlinks, identify the spammy ones and consider disavowing them using the Google Search Console Disavow Tool. This tool informs Google of your interest in excluding suspect links. This is not to be undertaken lightly. This could hurt you, be sure that you really don’t want the link, not just disfavor the link. If you’ve been good about maintaining a 301 map, then try to fix those links at the source. If an old blog post is referencing a page that you have moved, then consider appealing to that blogger and update the broken link with the new home of the content referenced.Focus on link earning. Dedicate your precious time to building great content that your evangelists want to digest and share with your prospective guests. If you have left over time (yah right!) then consider optimizing your link profile and make the most of your existing, earned links. For those dozens of directories you want to be included in for reasons bigger than SEO, like mapping sites, then consider a subscription to Yext, Localeze, Moz Local or Connectivity. These sites will validate your information and pass it onto the most trusted, highest value sites that have directories or listings.