Should You Use Link Building Services or Build Links at All?

By: Daniel Imbellino
Aug 2, 2014

Before I dive head first into the many reasons why you should never hire a link building service, just know that search engines like Google have long stated that links should be "natural", and should be vouched for as an editorial vote by the domain the links were created on. What people need to realize is that, no matter how you look at it, there is no such thing as a "natural link" from a link building service! Today, webmasters and even the average SEO both don't seem to comprehend what links are considered legit and which aren't, and what their actual value is if any. So the question is, what constitutes as being a naturally created link, and what types of links are considered organic and of good quality? These are the questions we're going to answer here in order to help shed some light on what links are deemed as being acceptable in the eyes of search engines, and which aren't.

What Constitutes as Being a Natural Link?

Natural links are those links that are created for the purpose of referencing a relevant piece of information on the web. People make links for all sorts of reasons, such as to reference something they like, dislike, or that is somehow relevant to their interests for some reason. That being said, natural links are always created by humans, not automated programs, and even organically and manually created links are often times not natural, which I will get into in a minute here. Either way it goes, naturally created links are those that are created for the purpose of referencing something, and never for the purpose of ranking, and this is where SEO's, webmasters, and bloggers alike have lost their sense of direction. Their focus is in all the wrong places, and with all the wrong strategies.

Why Link Building Services Are Bad News!

So why are link building services bad? The problem with taking this approach with your SEO strategies is that, because those links were created for no purpose other than to rank, they aren't natural or organic in any way. They weren't created for the purpose of referencing something as a normal internet user would do, but rather for the purpose of attaining page rank, and ultimately better positioning in search results. Today, SEO's and link building services all claim they have the ability to create natural links for you, which as I mentioned above is impossible, no matter how hard they try and fake it. While some of the links they create may end up appearing natural on the surface to search engines like Google and Bing, at some point their strategies are going to back fire since more often than not, many of these link building services will create links from the same domains, over and over again until the point where search engines start to take notice and ultimately begin penalizing domains, including yours!

Should I Build Links Myself?

The short answer, NO! Even if you managed to get the back links you need to rank, links themselves don't correlate at all to the value of content, even Google themselves don't fully get this. The fact is, you could have all the back links and page rank in the world but it's never going to make up for lousy content. If you're spending all your time creating links, then you're ignoring your content, and ultimately your users! Likewise, If you're doing all of the link building yourself, then you are diluting your ability to gauge the true value of your content. Just because something ranks doesn't mean it consists of a quality nature.

For example, I myself hit the back button on more than 95% of the content I find in search results. Why? Because the content Google returned was complete crap, same goes for Bing as well. As another example, if you look around this site, you'll notice some pages were shared hundreds if not thousands of times on social media, and believe it or not, some of those pages never ranked at all in organic search for much of anything, yet they somehow keep getting pulled out into large audiences. Who are you trying to convince, search engines, or internet users?

If the information people find on the web doesn't serve its intended purpose, then it has no value at all, regardless of links, or where that information is positioned in search results. Do you really think just because someone links to something on the web, the content in question is automatically true and correct, will solve someone's problems, and the probability of being met with inaccurate information is effectively eliminated? The fact is others don't care if you rank or not, if they don't like your content, then they aren't going to stick around, plain and simple.

The truth is ranking content based on links is stupidity created by search engines that has ultimately backfired. Any idiot can create a link on the internet, and all search engines have done is create a system where people spend all their time creating ridiculous links, rather than creating compelling content that's actually useful to others. In all honesty, it doesn't matter if you rank spot number one in Google or not, if people don't like your content, then it's still worthless. Search engines created a huge mess, as ranking should be based on the quality, relevance, credibility, and accuracy of information portrayed, not some link someone made for no purpose at all. Ranking is only 1/10 of the equation, while the people you serve are the other 9/10!

How Do You Get Natural Links?

Naturally, as was noted above, when someone likes something on the web, they will often link to it. On the other hand, some will not only link to a resource on the web, but many will go as far as to write about something they find compelling, reference a resource they found helpful, and will likely put links to those resources in the articles they produce themselves. These are the best natural links of any kind! Because these links are centered on informative and useful content, they count a lot more than just a simple link being made from one short statement to another. What also matters is the relevance between informative resources on the web, even more so than page rank.

Relevance Trumps Page Rank:

With the constant focus of SEO's being on page rank, they forgot about one additional factor that holds even more weight than page rank itself, and it's that measure of relevance I just mentioned. In fact, you could have 2 links from relevant sources on the web pointing back to one of your blog posts, but the link with only a page rank of 1 could easily flow more juice than the link from the resource with a page rank of 10! How is this possible you ask? Again the real value of links lies within relevance and the value of information being portrayed between two resources on the web. In many cases, some links from domains with no page rank at all could even pull more rank than those links from other domains that do have page rank. What many don't realize here is that, page rank itself has to start and grow from somewhere. This is what people really aren't getting.

For example, Back in the very beginning of this site, links from other sites with a page rank of zero actually caused content here to rank for related search terms, and it all came down to relevance, not page rank.

Why is relevance so important? It helps to make up for search engines stupidity of relying on links to rank everything. They had to make up for it somewhere. Besides, unlike links, relevance would actually be considered a metric of value to users themselves. What's more informative to a user, a book with 100 pages that's centered on 100 different topics, or a book with 100 pages that are all centered on the same subject? Its common sense, if you bought a book about anything, most likely you want the information it contained to be centered on the subject you're looking to read about right?

Should Links Be Used in Ranking?

Yes, they should be taken into account in ranking, just not in the manner that search engines currently do. They are weighted way too heavily at present, but this doesn't mean they should be discounted entirely as an effective ranking signal. Again, people will often link to what they like, so there is some good reasoning for their use, but search engines still remain way too reliant on them at present.

If I'm Not Getting Links Then How Can I rank?

It's definitely true that content that isn't well linked is hard to vouch for in search results, and domains with few relevant links pointing back to them are going to have a hard time performing and scoring for more organic search terms. Believe it or not, getting links isn't hard at all, what's really difficult is actually producing the content that will compel people to want to take interest in what you have to offer and link back to you, as well as building the audience needed to do so. If you aren't getting links, it's because you haven't built an audience for your site, and you might not be focusing enough on your content and building that dedicated audience to get those back links you so greatly need.

In order to get more links for your blog, start by focusing on the content itself, what do you have to offer? Then get feedback from users. Don't assume people are just going to come to you though! You have to let people know you exist. One way to do this is with the use of social media, and this is a good starting point for getting your blog noticed and building that dedicated audience we talked about above.

Social media itself can over time, afford you a massive audience that's always standing by and awaiting your next blog post. Just don't assume this will come easy. For instance, at present, I can write a blog post and put it out in front of a huge audience across a variety of social networks at any given time if I feel like it. I didn't gain this ability over night. In fact, I spent thousands of hours working on my social media strategies, and networking with other professionals in my field in order to attain the privileges I can easily take for granted today. It was earned, no link building needed.

Getting that much needed audience requires long term persistent effort on the part of every blogger! Again, people aren't just going to show up at your website's door because you wrote something compelling. You have to let the world know you exist, and you also have to have something to offer that's better than everything else out there. The more you have to offer, and the harder you work on building your audience, the easier it becomes to get traffic on a whim, and the back links just flow in almost effortlessly.

In the end, there's no magic link building service that's going to make your content and your blog perform in incredible ways in search results. As I mentioned above, links don't necessarily correlate to referencing valuable content, even if those links contain measurable amounts of relevant information. The content itself and the people who make use of it will determine your fate, regardless of search engine visibility.

SEO's are still a valuable resource though, and more often than not they can improve your ranking and visibility across the web by implementing things like on-page and on-site optimization services. Being as the technical functionality surrounding sites today can weigh heavily on your ability to rank, SEO's should still be considered a very important part of your web publishing strategies. Just don't fall for all those link building scams that claim they will produce the natural links you need. Again, any SEO who states they can achieve this is clearly lying, since as I mentioned above, any link created for the purpose of ranking can never be natural. Simply put, the days of link building are officially dead!

Remember, every natural link on the web is made out of someone's personal interests to do so, not a blogs interests in ranking. Furthermore, the day will come when the value of links will likely disappear altogether, since as I mentioned above, links never correlate to the true value of content, there's just better observable metrics that search engines should be looking at, they realize this too, so it's only a matter of time before links disappear into the internet wilderness.