Can Backlinks or Linkbuilding Hurt My Ranking?

When presenting a strategy to a new or potential client, one of the most common questions I get asked is, “…isn’t backlinking dangerous?”

It’s a well-debated question, with a lot of different SEO people saying different things. But if you know the history of backlinking, it’ll all start to make a bit more sense.

Page rank used to be fairly clunky and straight forward – and for backlinks, the pages with the greatest number of them were generally found on the first page of Google for their intended keywords. The more backlinks you could build using keywords (anchor text), the better. The real pro SEO guys of the time were actually able to automate the backlinking process – submitting spun articles to websites and blogs, submitting links to web directories, and other black hat techniques created total chaos in the SERPS. It was kind of fun to watch (and do).

Today, however, link building is a much more delicate and calculated skill that takes some careful planning, outreach, and good content to pull off.

What does Google Say About Backlinks?

Some websites or pages will rank in the top 10 search results with only a few, high quality, backlinks… Other sites may have thousands of backlinks, of varying quality, and still show up in the top 10. It takes a lot of trial and error and experience to do things in a way that wont keep you off the first page. John Mueller, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, has even suggested that link building should be completely avoided…. but try to find a site on the first page of Google that doesnt have at least a few backlinks…

Building Backlinks Naturally

To earn backlinks safely, its best to resort to straight up cold outreach. Its not only the most powerful, but also the most secure method of link building in my opinion. And its really not too hard to automate as long as you have a solid list of websites to email. This is a technique that I use often and it is very effective. While there are easier ways to build OK backlinks, the reliability of those links long-term is uncertain. Often times, those kinds of backlinks will be beneficial for a short time before turning into a problem due to the referring site being flagged by Google.

By producing useful, educational, well-written content that other people find amazing for your website or blog, you can build backlinks without putting in much effort. Other website owners or social media users will inevitably link to your work if they find it entertaining or informative.

We’ll get into more detail about link building in another post.


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