How link earning and link building differ

Link earning - Matt Cutts quote

You have to take action in order to build links, while links that are earned occur without any concerted effort to acquire them.

Content is the perfect example. You create new content which requires an investment of your valuable time, manpower and resources.

The high-quality content that you have labored over is ready to be revealed to the world. So what is the next thing that you should do?

Well, with all content, there are a number of natural promotion efforts that should always follow your posts:

1. Use social media to promote your new content
2. Get in touch with anyone whose been mentioned or featured in the piece
3. Use your existing relationships to generate more attention for your content
4. Take advantage of options in page promotion (depending upon your available funds and the nature of your content, this could include Facebook ads, paid tweets and more)

These steps are all inherently part of the content creation process and they will obviously need to be tailored to match your content. With link earning, there are no additional efforts that you need to make. You just wait for links to appear after the content has been published and promoted.

With link earning, people are recognizing and appropriately rewarding your excellence.

I personally, do not depend on others to recognize my hard work and reward it. We live in such a world that is too fast-paced to become self-centric and to succeed with this attitude. If you want your value to be recognized by others, you have to make sure that you are promoting your work. Wisely.

If you are interested in link building, there are several things that you have to do after your content is published:

• Determine which demographics will get the best value from your content

• Find out where your targeted readers are spending their time

• Find pages on these sites where links would be most appropriate

• Get in touch with the webmasters of these sites and let them know:

o That you have content

o That your content is valuable to their visitors

o The pages where you think links would be best placed

o That you’d appreciate feedback concerning your request

• Get back in touch with webmasters as required

You should know, however, that this is specific to link building for content. Link building is restricted by the bounds of your creativity alone and there are lots of ways to practice link building without having to create content.

Is it possible to build links without having to take these extra steps? This is certainly a possibility, particularly when your first efforts at promotion get solid traction.

For each link that is earned, however, there are many other links that you are deserving of, but your promotion will not produce these naturally; links that you can obtain through old-fashioned effort and targeted outreach.

So which of these methods is most appealing to you, link building or link earning? What’s the point of creating content if you are not going to do all that you can to promote this content? What would stop you from finding and connecting with relevant sites and encouraging the webmasters of these sites to start promoting your content through strategically placed links?


How did link earning ever become commonplace and why is it that link building is often seen as a dirty word?

The answer to this question is Penguin.


The Evolution Of Google And Its Algorithm

Back when Google was known as Backrub and was still just a pet project of Sergueï Brin and Larry Page in Stanford grad school, the Google algorithm was based on backlinks.

This reliance on links is not a major secret — it is a well-known fact among everyone in search and you can still find this information in the original abstract on the Stanford website.

The foundling of Google was basically a search engine that saw links as votes of trust and confidence between sites. Links were a sign of relevance and topical authority.

Google began to evolve over time and it has expanded and adapted to the web. One thing that has yet to change, however, is the fact that links are still a major signal in the Google algorithm.

Of course there are a number of additional signals as well — Google will quickly point out more than 200 — but ultimately, nothing is capable of moving the needle like links can.

This was something that SEOs were known to exploit. Links turned into a quick and easy strategy for getting a first page rank, which soon led to manipulation and unsavory results. It was necessary for Google to step in and they did, in a very big way. The result was Penguin.

The efficacy of links was not reduced by Penguin, nor was the role that links play in the Google algorithm. Rather, Penguin is designed to identify manipulative and low-value links and it actively punishes and discounts these links as well.

Links are unfortunately, a subject that is highly complex, especially for people who do not have a lot of experience in SEO. People know what links are, but they may not understand how Google works.

A lot of marketers and business owners cannot recognize the difference between good links and links that will earn them penalties.


Why Link Earning Is Better

For the most part, Google has been successful in its efforts to eliminate the ability to spam links for better page ranks.

Given that the last Penguin refresh occurred 11 months ago, which is a necessary amount of time for recovering if the algorithm has affected your site, a site has basically no chance of recovering for about a year.

One full year with dramatic reductions in site traffic can often mean the difference between operating a profitable business and having to close your doors.

Have I said that Google won’t let you know when your site has been negatively affected by Penguin? You can only learn this after search traffic has plummeted and you’ve compared this dramatic downturn with a Penguin update.


So, there is Penguin which:

• Affects websites it deems guilty of building links that are manipulative and low in quality.

o Google is not going to let you know which links are affecting your bottom line, even though they are quick to warn against low-value tactics that you might or might not be using as part of your SEO campaign.

• Stays in place for lengthy but uncertain periods of time.

o Google isn’t forthright about when updates will come and there is no set timeline to refer to.

• Entails nearly unlimited hours of link removal requests as well as a « machete » for performing disavows.

o Google is seeking to send a clear message to spammers with penalties that hurt.

Penguin is basically a dire and looming threat to any company that is seeking to implement and maintain an SEO campaign, especially if these companies do not have a comprehensive understanding of the industry.

All tactics and links that even mildly hint at manipulation or low-value have an incredibly dark stain. The risk simply isn’t worth it. And this stain has had an impact on the idea of link building.

Ultimately, we need a term that differentiates between link building methods that were used before Penguin and those that can be safely and effectively used after Penguin.

This is what created the idea of link earning.

People are so eager to ensure that their methods are safe and far removed from anything that might cause trouble and so it is perfectly understandable that they are only seeking links that promote their sites without any prompting.


What’s wrong with this?

For each link that you are able to earn, there are likely five more that are well-worth building. Moreover, link earning creates the wrong impression.


The Real Problem With The Idea Of Link Earning

The term link earning creates a problematic mentality. This is the attitude that if you build it, people will come.

This is just a ton of noise. Believing that you are capable of earning your way to an impressive link profile will set you up for a tremendous amount of disappointment.

Links are a vital part of SEO and thus, they are a necessary part of getting search engine traffic. It is impossible to dispute this fact with a straight face.

Now I’m not telling you that you should start link building no matter what the consequences might be. I am simply saying that you should start working to build the links that you are deserving of. Good links that also make sense.

By believing that you should rely solely on link earning, you are limiting your ability to work effectively. You are basically letting your fear of Google limit you.

Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, said that there is ultimately nothing wrong with link building. Link earning isn’t a bad thing either, but you can’t be afraid to engage in link building also. This is especially true when you have created something valuable and worthy of attention. Do a little extra work in order to get the most out of your site. After all, we’re optimizers.

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