Link development has always been a highly contentious subject in the digital marketing community. Google has firmly stated that companies should not try to acquire paid links and has actively penalized websites that have acquired what they call “spam links” or low quality links. Google has made their stance clear on the subject, but it is widely accepted among people that perform search engine optimization services daily for clients that high quality backlinks are part of a robust website profile and do make a positive impact on rankings.

The Evolution of Link Development for SEO

In the beginning when the search engines were freshly created in 1999, websites found the secret sauce to ranking on Google: use keywords in the text and get links from other sites on the web. However, these tactics were quickly overused and abused, and the result was link farms with thousands of backlinks that weren’t relevant or useful and content that was packed full of keyword after keyword, obstructing the reader experience and creating useless content that provided no value to users.

The Impact of Penguin, Panda, and Google’s Algorithm Updates

In an effort to crack down on these abuses of the system, Google placed heavy penalties on websites that utilized poor linking tactics and bought links from websites that didn’t have any authority. They also began to penalize websites that utilized specific keyword phrases too frequently (known as keyword stuffing). Now, those tactics are all but a thing of the past. Reputable SEO companies are focused on creating resourceful, information-rich content and link partnerships that help naturally build the authority of a website. This has become the present state of affairs in white hat SEO.

Can Link Development Still Help with SEO in 2017?

The answer is that link development done properly, that is without spam, bulk link purchasing, or shady link practices can still be of value to businesses. The idea is to create partnership opportunities where reciprocal links provide value to users and to the websites that utilize them. Link farms and spam links are as detrimental today as they have ever been, and companies with link portfolios that contain backlinks of questionable value should consider a link removal and remediation program to clean up their portfolio and showcase only the best and most valuable backlinks their website has acquired. Undoing the damage of spam links can take time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. A qualified SEO agency like Organically can help take some of the mystery out of creating a solid link portfolio and help you establish a good link acquisition program for the future.

By Lauren Wilkison

Search Engine Optimization

To determine whether you should invest in SEO, the question you need to ask yourself is whether or not your customers use the search engines to search for businesses like yours. If the answer is yes, then it is very likely your business could benefit from Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

What is SEO? SEO involves optimizing your website for the search engines, and even more simply, what we do is attempt to make your website the best resource on the web for the products and services you sell. When we do that, the search engines naturally want to rank your website higher since it fulfills the purpose of providing the best information available for those specific products and services.

There are a number of specific initiatives that can help you improve your search engine rankings. Broadly, we group SEO ranking signals into 2 main categories: relevance and popularity. Google and the other major search engines want to ensure that your website is relevant to the search terms that users looking for your products and services are using to find you, and they also want to see proof of the credibility of your business, which they currently evaluate based on links back to your website and social proof in the form of social media posts and links posted to your website from social media profiles.

So if you were interested in initiating an SEO campaign, what are the benefits for your business? It is estimated that 80% of search engine users click through the organic results rather than the paid results. Building solid rankings will net you a steady stream of traffic that you don’t have to pay for per click. Depending on the size of your potential customer base and the frequency that they use the search engines to find businesses like yours, high organic search rankings can be a very lucrative marketing channel for businesses of all sizes.