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A Brief History on Link Building

by Brian Colling - October 15, 2015

A Brief History on Link Building

The history of link building began with Google in 1998 because Google based most of its searches on links and valued link building as a form of credibility. That made link building very popular because the more people 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, SEOs started manipulating the search engine by obtaining large quantities 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 were pulled up when people conducted searches that negatively impacted the quality of Google’s search results. So in the early 2000s, 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 were surprised to find that their number of links was not getting them the results they use to get. Many sites began to drop in rankings. The algorithm updates, called Boston, Cassandra, Dominic, and more in the 2000s, changed it up slightly and make search results better for everyday users but harder for link developers. The types of links people obtained back in the early 2000s when directories, press releases, article links, blog comments, reciprocal links, three-way linking, and link rentals, all of which are deemed poor linking options today.

In 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, opening 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 also to have quality content 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 quality and made sense in the copy. Panda continues to get updates through Google today, and Google makes a point to fine-tune the update continuously.

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 reinforced what Google had been saying previously but reinforced it. Google began giving value to links to help determine page rank. New Penguin versions are released from time to time to fine-tune the algorithm, updating retroactively to take a look at links a site had acquired since its creation and penalizing the site based on the links it had acquired in the past never being done before. At one point, Google told us to get reciprocal links, then years went by, and it changed its stance and said not to do reciprocal links. However, Google did not penalize sites that did reciprocal links between the time frame; they said it was a viable acceptable tactic. The update negatively impacted SEO, as clients worldwide now had to UNDO the work they had paid to gain. Clients were forced to change up their entire strategy was very damaging for small businesses but improved Google’s search results pages overall.

According to¬†Marketing Charts, link building is an essential aspect of staying on top of Google search results. However, with so many changes occurring rapidly, it is crucial 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 backlink analysis to review toxic vs. non-toxic links. If you have harmful 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 backlinks, you can then begin custom link development in line with Google’s algorithm. It is important to find a credible company that has experience in link development. Backlink development is a critical tactic, and if you leave your link building to an inferior agency, your entire domain could be penalized.

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