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A Brief History on Link Building

by Brian Colling - October 15, 2015

The history of link building really began with Google in 1998. This is due to the fact that Google based most of their searches on links and valued link building as a form of credibility. That made link building very popular because the more people who were linking to your website, the more confident Google was in putting you at the top of search results. In the beginning, link quantity was more important than link quality. The SEO world has changed rapidly since then and, as a result, so has link building and development.

Over time, SEO’s started manipulating the search engine by obtaining large quantity of links for their clients. They built reciprocal links, link farms and free for all pages to increase the rankings of their clients. Over time less relevant results pulled up when people conducted searches which was negatively impacting the quality of Googles search results. So in the early 2000’s new algorithms were released by Google to help combat this problem. They continued to come as Google fine-tuned the way it rated links and many people where surprised to find that their number of links were not getting them the results they use to get. In fact many sites began to drop in rankings. The algorithm updates, called Boston, Cassandra, Dominic, and more in the 2000’s each changed it up a little bit and made search results better for everyday users, but harder for link developers. The types of links people obtained back in the early 2000’s where directories, press releases, article links, blog comments, reciprocal links, 3 way linking and link rentals which all are deemed to be poor linking options today.

Near 2007 we had more ways to build links; social bookmarks, photos, videos, info-graphics, local listings, review sites and even news sites were available for linking opportunities. This opened a whole new world for link building. Another huge change that occurred was in 2011 with the Panda update, according to Search Engine Land. Panda made it necessary for websites to also have quality content in order to get higher rankings. Websites could not just insert keywords in their website copy to optimize a page any longer. They now had to make sure that the keywords were included in content that was not only quality, but that it made sense in the copy. Panda continues to get updates through Google today and Google makes a point to continuously fine-tune the update.

The first Penguin algorithm update came in 2012 and forever changed the look of SEO. This update focused on determining the difference between natural and unnatural links used on websites for link building. This update really reinforced what Google had been saying previously but actually reinforced it. Google began giving a value to links to help determine page rank. New Penguin versions are released from time to time to fine tune the algorithm. This update retroactively took a look at links a site had acquired since its creation and penalized the site based on the links it had acquired in the past which had never been done before. At one point Google told us to get reciprocal links, then years went by and they change their stance and said to not do reciprocal links. However they did not penalize sites who did reciprocal links between the time-frame they said it was a viable acceptable tactic. This update put a negative light on SEO as clients all across the world now had to UNDO the work that they had paid for to gain their rankings and change up their entire strategy. This was very damaging for small business’s but overall did improve Googles search results pages.

According to Marketing Charts, link building is a very important aspect of staying on top of Google search results. However, with so many changes occurring at a rapid pace, it is important to stay on top of them in order t stay on top of search results. Google is constantly changing to stay up to date with the landscape and you should be too depending on how Google alters algorithms. We recommend a back link analysis to review toxic vs non toxic links. If you have toxic links, you need to have them pruned. Once they are pruned you can submit a google disavow file which can help remove any penalties your site may have due to these updates. Once you have addressed your toxic back links, you can then begin to custom link development that is in line with Googles algorithm. It is important to find a credible company who has experience in link development. Back link development is a very important tactic and if you leave your link building to a inferior agency your entire domain could be penalized.

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