A subset of the SEO community is convinced that link building is dead. Googlers have done their part in creating and perpetuating this perception:
- Google’s quality guidelines warn webmasters not to participate in link schemes designed to manipulate pagerank.
- In a Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout posted earlier this year, John Mueller advised webmasters to avoid link building.
The message here seems straightforward enough: Don’t build links. However, this is hard to fathom, as links have been such an integral part of SEO in the past. Are they serious?
If webmasters were to discontinue the practice of link building to their own content on the Internet, it would be convenient for Google. It would relieve their engineers of much of the burden of algorithmically determining which links were spammy and manipulative.
An important question remains: Is it possible to achieve top rankings for your content in the search engine results pages without links?
In our experience, it is possible to achieve top rankings for content covering long tail search queries in non-competitive topical niches without doing any offsite link building. However, even to rank these sorts of pages, we’ve found that it is still necessary to build links to them from the same domain.
Cross Linking to Your Own Content Is Still an Important Signal
There’s no need to worry about being penalized for spammy links when you build links to your own pages from other pages on your website. In fact, inbound links from your own pages are still an important component of SEO. As long as this is the case, webmasters will need to continue the practice of building links, at least on a limited scale.
For competitive topical niches, cross linking from the same domain is even more critical.
Link Building Is Not Dead: Inbound Links Are Still Important
It is not easy to achieve top rankings for content in competitive topical niches without having any inbound links. A recent blog post at Moz.com corroborates our own conclusions in this regard. Currently inbound links from other websites are still a crucial component of SEO.
Our conclusion is that link building is not dead, but that webmasters should proceed using common sense, caution and a healthy dose of editorial discretion when it comes to link building.