It was back in 2012 - the year that many working as link builders had to wake up, smell the coffee and change their link building strategies that had worked so well in previous years.
GWT Unnatural link warnings, freaked out online marketers and their clients and noted a general consensus that 2012 was the year when Google officially clamped down on low quality. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates meant that link building based around non-human engagement no longer works, which is a good thing as those implementing unethical practices involving quantity and not quality links were penalised.
Google now has more quality signals in place than ever before and social is playing a big part in there rankings. They know bounce rate for each site, an easy signal for them to detect low quality sites and not pass any value from them. What does this mean for link building? Simply that the main focus of link building strategies is content and rich media - publish an engaging piece of content, video or infographic on a blog or website where your audience can resonate with. It should be a site that gets traffic and has prominent social media presence and buttons that users can easily share the content on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and so on. You need to almost forget about SEO and link building and think like a marketer.
Danny Sullivan’s brilliant rant in 2012 about links and his subsequent post Link Building Means Earning “Hard Links” Not “Easy Links” post was one of the best link building posts I've ever read which 100% summed up what I and SEO's around me were feeling.
If you haven’t listened to the audio of the Danny Sullivan link rant you can listen to it here.
Today you can forget about anchor text and think about being natural with brand links - start sending Google brand signals as they cannot ignore these. Every brand has its own signal and importance for Google and if people are talking about a website / brand Google will know about it.
By all means, do more creative link bait such as info-graphics and viral videos if you can as these are seemingly easy (but take time to get right) ways to earn large numbers of links. Relationship building is now one of the most important aspects of link building - find authority bloggers with particular niches which most now call this 'outreach'. It's all about proving your worth and earning links.
Just like in our daily lives, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So if you obtain a link and it was easy, the chances are it will have little or no SEO value, it might, but it probably won't. Why? Because the high quality links come from hard work creating something that will earn links whilst bringing relevant traffic - and these are now the most valuable links to obtain.