Is link building dead?

Davit Nazaretyan
24 April 2024
5 min read

For many experts, link building has become a subject of debate. Several professionals consider it spammy and ineffective. Yet, many people employ ethical link building strategies because they understand the benefits they can bring to their websites. 

Who is right? Is link dead, or can it still be a perfect solution for boosting a website's success? To understand the present, we must look back at the link building history and first-ever strategies. So, let’s start from the very beginning. 

The Link Building History

It may sound incredible, but once, Google was merely a research project initiated by two college students. From those humble beginnings, it rapidly expanded and eventually became the giant it is today. Marketers quickly realized that inbound links could significantly impact a website's ranking on Google, leading them to acquire and build links by any means possible. So, this is a short story about how link building originated. Since the 1990s, the practice of link building has evolved significantly.

Let’s talk about some initial link building strategies that were the pioneers of the sphere.

  • Web Rings

Two decades ago, link-building techniques bore little resemblance to today's methods. In the early days, one of the original approaches was the creation of "web rings." However, with modern techniques, this method gradually disappeared, now seen as a relic from the early Internet era. 

These "web rings" enabled users to journey between interconnected websites effortlessly, smoothly transitioning from one site to another.

  • Link Circles and Link Exchange

Another popular approach involved "link circles." This strategy, known as link farming, aimed to create interconnected clusters of websites, enhancing inbound links and visibility on search engines. While initially designed to aid business growth, it often veered into misuse as an SEO tactic, primarily centered on enhancing Google rankings.

By interlinking with other websites, each site within the link farm gained value, offering reciprocal support to those promoting a specific website. However, it's important to note that link farming is no longer accepted and is considered a questionable, black-hat link-building method.

Before 1996, the landscape was relatively straightforward, featuring concepts like web rings. But a new technique, pioneered by Tony Hsieh, emerged: the "link exchange," also known as reciprocal links. This involved two websites mutually agreeing to link to each other, creating a shared flow of online traffic.

  • Email Outreach

As email technology became widespread, savvy marketers recognized its potential for driving business expansion. They harnessed the power of email outreach as a marketing strategy to engage with prospective customers and forge partnerships through mass email communications.

Simultaneously, the era saw the rise of online directories. Businesses eager to broaden their reach featured themselves within these directories, providing users with valuable information. Yet, these online directories occasionally made users doubt the reliability of the links they chose to explore.

Over the past six years, the interest in link building has considerably grown, as you can see through the increasing number of searches on Google.

Why is Link Building Considered Dead?

The improvement of link building, originated several link building strategies, both bad and good. The worst link building strategies are always easier to conduct; that’s why many people have been choosing them. With unethical strategies, several link builders could build links, sometimes in large quantities but of poor quality. 

Due to these low-qualified strategies, many websites got penalties from different search engines (Google, Bing, Yandex, Yahoo, and more) and harmed their rankings. This led to doubts about link building effectiveness and benefits.

So what do you think? Is link building dead, or can it be ineffective if you choose unsuitable and unethical strategies? 

The Pros of Using Link Building

If you’ve decided to find the answer to the question of whether is link building dead or not, you have to know the main pros of link building for any website.

  • Increase website traffic and boost search rankings

Most website owners desire increased web traffic. Building backlinks is a powerful way to achieve this. How does that work? First, more backlinks mean more chances for clicks from other sites. Second, these links enhance your website's authority, trustworthiness, and expertise. As Google sees your site as more authoritative and trustworthy, it boosts search engine rankings. Higher rankings result in... you got it, more web traffic!

What happens next?

When relevant websites link to your site, they provide context to search engines like Google. If a reputable boating website links to your fishing supplies site, it signals your expertise in that field. The higher the authority and relevance of the site you link to, the more it boosts your website's search rankings!

  • Helps to gain a better reputation and brand awareness

Another benefit of link building is enhancing your reputation and increasing brand awareness. Let's explore this process and make it clear with a straightforward example. 

When you've been a loyal reader of a popular tech blog for years, you strongly trust that website. So, when that trusted tech blog share links to other tech-related websites, you're more likely to trust those sites.

This principle extends beyond tech, too. Imagine you follow a renowned cooking website. When they endorse and link to various cooking equipment websites, it boosts your confidence in those recommended sites. This trust-building strategy is vital for enhancing the reputation and trustworthiness of your website.

In other words, it highlights why links from high-ranking, trusted sources have more significance and advantages than links from less reputable websites.

  • Promote your products and services

When you have high website traffic and a reputable, popular website, it’s much easier to increase sales. Let’s imagine this scenario.

As your tech blog gains more traffic, credibility, and trust, it's like a snowball effect on your conversion rates. Captivated by the valuable content, your visitors become increasingly inclined to take action. Your tech blog evolves from a source of information into a trusted resource that empowers and connects with a tech-savvy audience. This is the power of a well-constructed website combined with strategic link building. 

The Cons of Using Link Building 

If link building has many benefits, why is it considered dead? Mainly because of its several disadvantages that can harm any business. Here are some of them:

  • Requires a lot of time

In link building, it is hard to see immediate results. It takes time for your rankings to improve through link building, so patience is essential. Many businesses prefer outsourcing: it saves both time and effort. This can be a solution to this problem. So, selecting a valuable partner ensures your money is well invested and the problem is avoided. 

  • Good link building services are of high cost 

Even if you have decided to outsource for successful link building to avoid the first con, another one is right behind the corner. Quality link building services frequently come at a considerably high price. The reason is that professionals demand expertise and hard work to carry out a successful campaign. The overall link building process includes several tasks, starting from outreach to further analysis. Careful budget consideration and ROI assessment are crucial when picking a link building service that fits your business goals.

  • There is a chance to get penalties

The last con that should be mentioned is the chance of penalties. During the link building process, many websites get penalties from search engines (Google, Yahoo, Yandex, and more). There are different penalties, like manual and algorithmic. These penalties can be easily avoided if one uses ethical link building strategies that don’t violate any guidelines.

How to Do Effective Link Building Today?

Effective link building requires much time, effort, and a well-thought-out strategy. As a bonus, here are some tips and nuances that can help!

  • Use different tools

Effective link building is similar to constructing a bridge. Use various link building tools to enhance your work and manage time.

  • Do competitor analysis

Observe what others in your field are doing. Gain insights from their achievements and avoid their errors.

  • Create a mobile-friendly website

Ensure that your site is easy to navigate on mobile devices. This increases the likelihood of others linking to your content.

  • Use different visual elements

Visual elements such as images, animations, and videos can be potent assets for building links. Use them to convey your message effectively.

  • Write guest posts

Crafting guest posts for reputable websites is a solid strategy for building links. Share your expertise where it counts.

  • Link your unlinked mentions

If someone mentions your brand or content without including a link, politely request that they link to your website. It's a simple yet effective method for building links.


Is link building dead? Our answer is no! 

Indeed, like every other aspect of SEO, it has its pros and cons that cause controversy. That doesn’t mean you must give up on building links, especially when that cons can be easily avoided.

Link building is a great solution to increase the sales and authority of any website, boost rankings, and improve overall visibility online.

So, always appreciate the power of link building; use it wisely and keep up with the trends!

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