Does Link Building Still Exist as an SEO Practice in 2011?

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This week I have written a post for the cognitiveSEO blog about the best link building blogs, experts and their most important postings from this year. It sounds funny in a way because I am the guy who has explained years ago that you don’t need link building anymore. In fact

according to my own SEO 2.0 theory you rather attract and get links instead of doing link building.

So how can I reconcile both? Do I contradict myself? Does SEO 2.0 not work as desired? Does link building still exist as an SEO practice in 2011?

Let me start with the bigger picture. What happened to the concept of SEO 2.0 as a whole? Is it still valid? It is. How?

Most SEO 2.0 techniques I have tried to spread since 2007 are common sense by now.

They are just called SEO nowadays. The meaning of SEO changed not the term itself.

At the same time link building has evolved and encompasses link baiting and getting links as well if you ask me. It’s the old term but it has a new meaning by now. Just consider the term “white paper”. Is it a paper at all these days? Yet people understand what it is.

Likewise link building has a new definition in 2011.

It may not be manual link building anymore. It may not even contain widely used old school techniques like

  • directory submission
  • article marketing
  • press releases

Some of these techniques are obsolete by now others have changed as well.

There are still directories worth being included in, heck, I have one right here at SEO 2.0, article marketing has been killed off with the Panda update though and guest posting has replaced it. Press releases still get used but their SEO value is very low. They’re just good enough for getting a healthy link profile. Social Media outreach and blogger relations trump it by far though.

In my recent presentation over at Search Marketing Day I have used the term link building in the old school way. I mean the tedious, manual practice of contacting and bargaining with webmasters, trying to find link partners etc.

Even this part of link building still exists. Luckily we don’t have to rely solely on these tactics anymore in 2011 but the smaller and more conservative the niche or country you optimize for the less social media and bloggers are there to get links from. The more difficult is it to attract links naturally or to enhance the process of getting the links.

So at the end of day link building is sometimes the

  • management of contacts
  • overseeing the technical integrity of links
  • planning campaigns that target influencers

to make them link to you.

Link building is the name of the game even though it might be an altogether different link building than just a few years ago.

It’s the same with SEO. It might be called search engine optimization but it may also cover social media and content creation. So it’s basically SEO 2.0 as I imagined it but the people prefer to use the word they are accustomed to.

This phenomenon is not just limited to search marketing. Just consider cars. We still measure “horse power” there even though we aren’t cowboys either are we?

So link building still does exist as a SEO practice but it’s not the same it was just a few years ago. Even link baiting has changed now that Digg is dead.


* Image by Darwin Bell