Linking in a Post Panda & Penguin World – Link Quality Vs. Link Quantity

One of the challenges SEO professionals face is how to report on and measure their link building efforts. In the past, some SEOs  just got a certain amount of links a month for example, 100 directory links, and 15 rented links. Thus, they equated a large amount of links every month to their site as a good strategy. They did not necessarily look at the links. They were focused on quantity – not the quality of the link or how the link was acquired – but instead staring at the number of links.

1 Link vs. 1000 Links: “Prepare for Glory!”

Being in the Post Panda and Penguin era is not easy. It is also not very simple to explain to others who think they understand how this update will hurt their website, as they are probably still sticking to the old school tactics of link building. Today, the valuable beats the outnumbered. This is like Rambo beating a whole army, or the 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas going against a gigantic army of Persian soldiers except the Spartans win.

Or, it’s like Steven Segal in some random Steven Segal movie single-handedly beating everyone down. Get it yet? Google does not rank you higher just based on how many links you have. Google may even penalize your site if you have a large suspicious amount of backlinks from untrustworthy sites.

It’s high time we all accept this new game called, “Quality over Quantity.” Having one high quality blog post from a trusted site is likely way better than having 1,000 low quality posts. So instead of scurrying frantically on creating the next new strategy to get around the update, realize that the quality of links is most important these days. If you do go after more quality links, then heed the words of King Leonidas, “Prepare for glory!”


Pre Panda/Penguin Era: Death of the Sidebar & Footer Links

Some popular linking techniques that worked well before Google’s latest algorithm update were sidebar and footer links from blog networks, paid links, and directory links. Google’s updates keep us SEO’s in check and push us to be more creative and strategic.

We know there is no way of getting around the Penguin, so why not take the time and effort to come up with a natural link baiting strategy rather than working with outdated, ineffective tactics?  If your link baiting strategy is for the sole purpose of increasing rankings, you likely will fail. Important signals these days are brand impression, social signals, and the bottom line if other people like you or your business.

“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first” – Wendy Piersall

Post Panda & Penguin

The question among marketers  lately is how  their techniques are living up to the new Google algorithm change. What has been popular after the Panda and Penguin update is finding influencers that are relevant in your industry, building relationships through social interaction, infographics, and creative content marketing.

We all realize that these take a lot of time. Is it worth spending time on? Would you rather take the risk of acquiring hundreds of untrustworthy links? Or would you put your blood, sweat, and tears into creating a piece of unique content that would gain you good, quality links?

So, the Panda and Penguin updates have thrust internet marketers, some kicking and screaming, into  getting better quality links. And the whole idea of QUANTITY does not exist in this Post Penguin world.

What are the Top Search Engine Experts Saying About Quality Link Building?

“The objective is not to ’make your links appear natural’; the objective is that your links are natural.”

Matt Cutts

“They must understand that their days of buying links are over, and they must create great things on their site that gets natural links.” 

Jim Boykin

“There is no black magic to successfully attracting customers via the Web.”

Rand Fishkin

“Many SEOs complained about the Panda and Penguin updates, which does not mean Panda and Penguin updates are bad. Since the people that were doing link building correctly from the very beginning were not affected by it. Of course there would be a few instances where a site was hit by Panda or Penguin that didn’t deserve it, but Google is opening their ears to cases like this to come up with appropriate fixes.”

Benj Arriola

“Strategic integration – that’s the best SEO strategy that everyone should at least try doing these days. Search engine optimization is not just all about optimizing pages and building links to them, it’ll take more than that, as search engines are constantly improving how they assess rightful pages – that should be ranking well on their results – knowing that they are also evaluating websites’ authenticity, popularity, relevance and authoritativeness through other metrics from social and usage data.”

Jason Acidre

Why Less Is More – Link Building ROI

Reporting on the amount of links we acquired does not show a justifiable ROI, but analyzing other metrics such as traffic, engagement, and keyword rankings are helpful in painting a whole picture – and seeing how one quality link builds the authority of a whole website. We don’t need to stare at the amount of links we get, but instead, analyze the value of how more natural links improve the overall marketing campaign.

We should also quantify other metrics depending on the specific goals and go beyond rankings. This will help us get the most value out of reporting ROI in a link baiting strategy. Below are some ways to evaluate the overall value of a natural link, acquired in a post penguin world:

Evaluate how much traffic the  link  brought to your site

Look at increases in non-branded and branded traffic. Also, see how many unique visitors came to the site after a blog post, article or other piece of content was published. Look into the amount of referring traffic and recognize any big jumps from press releases, infographics, etc.

See how a link increased your branding impression based on the amount of social shares

Was there an increase in your social engagement? Explain that social signals aid ranking factors. Were there any new Facebook/Twitter/Google Plus followers?

See if any relationships were  built though the people who have shared, liked, or commented on your content

This is analyzing how many social interactions you gained from content you post online with a link back to your website. How much of an increase of shares or likes did you see on your social channels? What other mentions did it receive?

How many natural links did it obtain?

Examine each relevant link and see how valuable it is. How did that natural link gain you the brand presence you deserved?

Jason Acidre stated, “Something to think about every now and then as an SEO: Are we really helping our clients? Are we bringing value to their business?”

With everything that comes to online marketing and its ROI, Acidre’s quote makes the most sense. Don’t stress about how many links you acquired every month, the most important lesson to be learned is what is bringing value. When you are attempting with a link baiting strategy, are you increasing your brand’s awareness, social followers, traffic increases or other branding metrics that is getting your business out there?

What I have come to realize, even outside of SEO, is that it is all an interconnected strategy. Good quality links will lead to getting your name out there. Creating some unique and natural will lead to people talking about you.

After the Panda and Penguin updates, no one cares about just building links. What do your potential customers come from? If you want to reach them, create something interesting that they would like and share naturally. That is the strategy I recommend, what are your thoughts on link building  in a post Panda and Penguin world?

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