In the earlier years of online publishing, Google in particular looked on external links to a site as a “vote” in favor of that site. If people were linking to the site, it must be good, right?
Unfortunately, it led to abuse. Some sites built external blogs that they developed mainly for the purpose of creating back links from that blog to their site. Other sites secretly bought links.
Some acquired the links ethically. They really did get them because other publishers or bloggers liked what they saw.
But the shady tactics led to a response from the search engine to bring the problem under control. It was a tag called “nofollow”, which is added to the code of a link. In effect, it tells a search engine that it shouldn’t “follow” the link to the other site and give it any credit for getting that link. The pratice of using “nofollow” is now widespread.
Why External Link Building Still Matters
Despite the “nofollow” tag, external link building is still important for two reasons:
- Not all site uses nofollow, so SEO value is still possible.
- Some people will click on the link and come to the site.
The second reason is more important in recent years. It means site publishers should actively pursue external links if they have the potential for generating visits.
Some publishers still produce external blogs on sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Wix.com and others for the sake of visits, but it comes with a problem.
The more effort that goes into that blog, the more SEO value it creates for the back links to the parent site. But the more effort that goes into the blog, the less time and energy is left available for the site that needs the promotional help.
It’s far better simply to ask another site for a link. Some of my clients post automatically displayed backlink code at the end of every article. A visitor can simply copy and paste the code onto their own site.
If the main focus is a blog, the person responsible for posting to the blog has to consider several factors:
- Frequency of posting
- Quality of the post
- Optimization of the post
- Length of the post
- Whether to create or find a graphic
Each of these five steps take time. How much effort should go into that blog?
The answer lies in the back link strategy:
- Minimum effort – only one total back link to a targeted page or section front
- Medium effort – limited number of category links to section fronts
- Maximum effort – multiple links to articles on the parent site
One Backlink at a Time
Chasing forever after backlinks is a waste of valuable time. Sending out an occasional email asking for one is not. Automatically give link code at the bottom of an article also is not a waste of time.
Building an external blog on a major site such as WordPress.com is a different issue. It matters if the building of it delivers traffic. But don’t count on the search engines to get excited about a link from such a such. They will get more excited about a link from the USA Today site or other major national sites that they know are giving the links voluntarily.