SEO Link Building – The new Pet Rock

Remember the Pet Rock…its back

I’ve been working as an online marketing professional for 8 years and have seen the web change many times over. For those of us deeply involved in providing excellent service to clients in the search engine optimization disciplines and search marketing arenas, online marketing is a constantly moving target. Over the past few years (around 2 to be exact) I’ve noticed search engine optimization has become much less about quality content and more of a popularity contest.

I believe most of us in the search engine optimization line of work would agree link building is one of the most difficult things to do. To some extent, it is almost a necessary evil needed to achieve higher search engine ranking and Google PageRank. I have read tomes of material on link building and its impact on website ranking and I’ve come to the realization that something is just not right with that.

Back in the early days, content was king, the better and more relevant the content of your site and its match to keyword queries, the greater the opportunity to rank well for those terms. The issue turned into too many individuals using black hat techniques to fool the search engines, turning the need for good content into a popularity contest.

You can put this into context by thinking of the 1970’s cultural fad toy, the Pet Rock. Pet Rocks, much like link building, can be left alone and if your content is good enough, the links will follow. Or you can try and build links (feed your Pet Rock) and witness a whole lot of frustration because not all links are equal. Thus, feed your Pet Rock all you like and you will find the rock is still a rock. Feed your website tons of links and it is still what you have originally create (good content or bad content).

The major difference in my potentially pathetic analogy to the Pet Rock is if you feed thousands of links to your site you gain popularity, traffic, and love from the search engines you still have a Pet Rock for a website without good content. With so many Pet Rock websites out there…where is the justification in popularity over well written and useful content? How can so many well written websites be passed over by simple link popularity? How is this fair?

I’ve run across countless websites with little search engine optimization and less than 200 words on a page which have been ranked highly for keywords and Google PageRank scores. With light content and little relevancy to keywords…what are the search engines looking at? Link popularity, like the Pet Rock, has stormed the SEO nation.

Truth be told, I like the Pet Rock. It’s cool, funny, creative, and I think it should be revised and put back on the market. However, awarding higher natural rankings to websites with little content and useful information is unjust. I believe the search engines are going to figure this out as well.

Links do not justify killer rankings. Yes, they should be a factor in overall website ranking but should not play the part as a primary singular deciding factor in the SERPs. Killer content still rules and it should. Those that take the time, effort, and countless revisions to get it just right should be at the top not those digging for every last blog to leave a bogus post.

I do hope that we will return to content as king of SEO. It keeps you on your toes and makes you consider your audience, audience profiles, needs of website visitors, and how really good content can offer really good things to those who are searching. Relevancy is what it is all about.

History teaches us a lot if we pay attention to it. Popularity has, historically, put the wrong individuals in charge of nations and had devastating results. Putting links in charge of website rankings is punishing for both proactive searching individuals and website owners. Links are devastating to those websites who really offer something special and unique to those searching.

I am certain there will be blow back from those who are proficient in link building to my article. Yes, I deserve it to some extent…but I produce well written content and I believe content will make a comeback as it should, just like the Pet Rock.