We’ve seen a number of updates come down the pipe from Google as they continue to advance their algorithm and its ability to sniff out people who are out to manipulate search results. From the Panda update to the Penguin/over-optimization update, a lot of business owners who thought they were in the right as they gained steam in search found otherwise when their rank slipped not by a few spots… but by as much as dozens of pages.
These kinds of results have scared some small business owners who don’t have the budget to keep attacking competitors with expensive campaigns, and they’re even more concerned about SEO.
Mainly “how do I know what I’m doing now won’t hurt me later, and how do I know what’s too much?!”
Countless marketing directors have asked me how many links they should be building each month, or how many they should expect an SEO company to build for them.
The problem is there’s no hard and fast answer here. SEO is more about best practices and general guidelines than strict rules regarding numbers. That’s unfortunate for savvy marketing directors who want a quantifiable way to figure out how their campaigns are performing (especially when they’re paying a provider to get results).
Building Links is Bad, So Start Building Links
It’s almost a contradiction when you warn organizations that paying for links can get you in trouble, and then every SEM company out there takes an approach of building links under a paid service agreement. Not a single provider offers a limit on how many they think is appropriate – this goes back to no real hard limit.
It’s impossible to give an exact number, and I hate not being able to provide marketing directors with an answer when they ask this question. Obviously if you generate a few thousand links for a website overnight that had virtually nothing the day before then you’re going to raise flags.
…But what if you launch a piece of content that goes viral and generate millions of links in the span of a few hours.
It’s impossible to control how many people share it, and you certainly don’t want to kick the cord out of the wall in a frenzy if content you produced suddenly opens the flood gates. For an example of viral content, checkout this connected culture video.
Understanding the Variables in Assessing Link Quality & Relevancy
When the algorithm is looking at your links, it’s not a black and white comparison of “there’s new links” or “there’s too many links”. There are a lot of variables, and the new algorithm updates constantly add new variables to consider including:
- Anchor text
- No anchor text
- Authority of the link provider
- Other outbound links from the link provider
- Quality of the other sites the link provider links to
- Frequency of links
- Links from the same provider vs. different providers
- Link relevancy vs. surrounding content
And that’s just to name a few. Because of these variables, it doesn’t really come down to how many links you need to build to make an impact, and how many are too much.
It’s also impossible to say how many links you can expect from a broad digital marketing campaign. For example – you publish a press release through PRWeb with 2 anchored links that point to your new site or new landing page. That press release might get syndicated to 70 digital networks (totally 140 links), or it might only get picked up by 8 (16 links).
On the flip side, your product launch and press release could get the attention of a major media source, be picked up by a major news site and as a result be syndicated to hundreds of other sites (with links pointing back on each).
If you’re concerned about link building and over-optimization, stop. Your core focus with your digital marketing strategy should remain focused on content and creating something of real value to your audience. As you create compelling stuff that people naturally want to share, you’ll see links begin to appear among various networks while content spreads.
As the algorithm follows those links back and indexes your content, a natural relevancy will be established. You don’t have to worry about building too many links to fast when your focus isn’t on link building – your audience will do that for you. Your focus will always be on creating smart content. Here’s 7 tips to get you started.
The 7 Elements of Smart Content
What has been your experience with link building?