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Low-Quality Link Building is the Past and Content is the Future

There was a time when search engine optimization (SEO) more closely resembled manual labor than an area of expertise.

As little as ten years ago, the primary tactic to improve your search ranking on Google was manual link building—a tedious combination of emailing bloggers and asking them to link to your content, submitting your site to online directories, and flat-out posting your links on other websites and forums.

Fast forward to 2015, and the SEO landscape has evolved dramatically. Link building is still very much a part of Google’s criteria, but going about it in a spammy low-quality way is a thing of the past. In this article, we’ll give you a basic understanding of what link building is, why it matters, and why you should shift your efforts to content marketing.

SEO Then: Backlinks Were Easy to Create

Google’s algorithm for ranking sites is far more complex than you’ll ever wish to study. To keep it simple, it’s best to think of link building as a popularity contest. If another website links out to your website, it’s a vote of confidence. That vote of confidence is called a backlink.

Let’s say Site A had 100 backlinks, and Site B had 20 backlinks. To Google, that is a clear signal that Site A was more useful, and thus Site A earned the top ranking in search results. Google’s heavy emphasis on backlinks created an environment driven by spam, as any business could outsource cheap labor (often overseas) to scour the web and post links in forums, in blog comments and directory listings. It was easy to create a mass amount of links and manipulate the search engines.

SEO Now: Backlinks Can Only be Earned

Over the past few years, search engines have gotten smarter. Links are still one of the strongest factors in search rankings, but quality has risen over quantity. The old free-for-all that was low-quality link building is not only devalued, but can actually hurt your SEO. It’s virtually impossible to cheat Google, and manufacturing bogus links can even get you blacklisted (meaning Google will refuse to list your website at all—ouch).

An Arms Race for Content

The only way to gain quality links under Google’s new criteria is to generate them methodically, naturally, and consistently with engaging content that other people want to link out to.

You have likely heard the buzz around content marketing in some form or another. Businesses and brands of all types are investing heavily in resources that help them to create and share different types of content ranging from white papers and e-books to blog articles, curated lists and multimedia. Nearly half of B2B and B2C marketers publish content more than once a week, and a quarter of organizations devote more than 50 percent or more of their budget to content (view these and more content marketing stats here).

What is Quality Content?

With the content marketing boom comes a caveat: it’s much harder to create quality content now than it was, say, three or four years ago. Content is rapidly evolving into a science that’s driven by a combination of creativity, strategy, and data. Whereas simply publishing any content was once enough to power your SEO, you’re now competing with literally the world. Every topic has been covered at the basic level. In order to separate yourself from the pack and win Google’s trust, you need to create content that’s:

  • Fresh
  • Engaging
  • Meaningful
  • Detailed
  • Optimized for Mobile
  • Keyword-Oriented
  • Accurate
  • Customer-Focused
  • Most importantly: Shareable 

Jumpstart Your Content Marketing

The best way to immerse your business in the world of content marketing is to hire a marketing agency. At Raindrop Marketing, we can help you map out, create, and disseminate quality content that translates to steady, organic SEO results.Click here to see what our many happy clients say about us.