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Monday, July 5, 2010

Does Google’s Advice on Building Links Actually Work?

Posted by @ 9:04 pm

google-new-logoToday I came across a great post called “I Listened to Google and I Failed” which discusses whether Google’s advice on link building actually works.

The post argues that Google’s long standing link building advice, Produce great content and users will link to you, is not an effective way to improve your Google rankings and attract search engine visitors.

In order to test this theory, the following method was used,

  1. Start a blog and focus on writing unique articles with great content
  2. Ignore link building methods and drive traffic to the articles through social networks like digg and stumbleupon.
  3. Determine if popularity on major social media sites translated into more incoming links.

And the results? Well here are the findings…

Social bookmarking sites do not equal more links.

Social bookmarking (Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx, Propeller) currently SUCKS if you want to build good links (for popular posts that got 30k+ views, I barely got 2-3 links from PR2-3 sites who feature daily ‘interesting sites’ so those are not that valuable links.)

Google mantra “Build great content and users will find you” isn’t valid anymore.

I’ve realized that building great content is just one piece of the puzzle (so I’m not saying building great content is bad, I’m just saying it’s one piece of the puzzle, not everything.)

It’s certainly a very interesting test that reinforces the important role of link building in any well rounded SEO campaign. If you are keen to read the full post, you can check it out here.

Matthew Elshaw Matt is a marketing professional at, an international search marketing firm. Matt's passion for online marketing began at university and has proved invaluable in steering product development and marketing initiatives at the company. Matt is a regular contributor to the ineedhits search marketing blog.

View Matthew Elshaw's profile

Discussion (4 - comments)

“I just came across your blog about SEO Search Engine Optimization and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I also have a web site & blog about SEO Search Engine Optimization so I know I’m talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!”

SEO Search Engine Optimization

By SEO Search Engine Optimization Inc. - July 6, 2010

Thanks for the summary – I read the whole article as well. I was just recently asking people for insight about a site I built for a client a couple years ago. It’s sort of reverse evidence for what you’re talking about here.

This site only has about 10 pages.

They only change once a year, when I put up a new database in the spring. No original content other than lists of plants.

There are a total of *3* random backlinks – we’ve never asked anyone for any.

There are no outbound links to authority sites.

meta tags are lame, description is repeated across the site.

The pages that don’t list flowers literally have no text on them because I can’t get the owner to give me any.

and yet… this site gets thousands of visitors a month, and comes up on page one for many basic flower searches. On the other hand I have a gardening site that I built in 1996, has dozens of pages, hundreds of backlinks, tons of original content (and yes, has affiliate links), and was getting 30 visitors/day and now after “May Day” is getting <10/day.

So compared to all the sites where I write loads of content, this site with no content other than a big list from a database is doing way better. According to Google (and even the description of the May Day change) it should be at the bottom of the pile, but it’s not.

needless to say I’m confused…

By Harriet - July 6, 2010

G’day Harriet,

That’s interesting! Don’t like to see a girl in confusion. Let’s see what we can do to help.

1. What is the bounce rate for the site? I’m wondering if it’s _really_ low. If so, that could be a cause for Google ranking it highly. Perceived relevance of content for the searchers.

2. Another thought, how competitive are the terms for which it is ranking highly? Obviously the more competitive the search term, the more one has to have all the ducks lined up.

3. Have you looked at the source of the traffic? Are they doing any paid advertising online or offline marketing that is driving traffic to the site? Do they publish an ezine or snail mail a monthly newsletter or yearly catalog to a gadzillion people with the url in it?

Tom Grimshaw
Just For You Software
Healthelicous Foods

By Tom Grimshaw - July 9, 2010

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

By pharmacy technician - July 18, 2010

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