There have been changes to Google and Bing over the last two years that rocked the old school search engine optimization styles. The art and science of link-building has (thankfully) been all but abolished, at least from a traditional sense. Today, it’s so important to earn links based upon high-quality content that people really want to share to their audience.

Google and Bing have not devalued inbound links despite notions of some SEOs to the contrary. If anything, they have increased the value that they assign to strong, organic, contextual links in ways that are extremely challenging to fake. You have to earn them. You have to put out the best possible content in a subject and then get that content in front of as many people as possible.

It’s hard. We know. We have seen SEO companies try and fail miserably at it because they’re usually trying to find a shortcut to the destination rather than pushing forward on the road that Google and Bing have clearly laid out for all of us. Here are some of the keys to link-earning in the modern realm of search engine optimization:

  • If you build them, they just wont’ work as well as they once did. Having access to a ton of blogs or blog networks won’t work as well. In fact, it can actually hurt you if Google deems the sites as “link farms” or “SEO publications” that are there simply to pass PageRank to their recipients. If Google thinks that the links were purchased, they’ll slap down the buyer and the seller. If they think that they were plugged in inappropriately, Google will bring the hammer down.
  • Earning links starts with the best content imaginable on your website. This is the hard part, at least for those who aren’t used to it. By creating link-worthy content, you’ve completed the first step in the process. However, it’s not A Field of Dreams. Just because you build the content doesn’t mean that people are going to come and link to it. This takes another step entirely…
  • Once the content is there, it must be exposed. You can do this through traditional methods such as advertising the content on other websites. You can get it shared on social media. You can send it out to appropriate blogs and other websites that might find value in it. You can do all of the above. Get it in front of people who will be interested in sharing it on their own websites and you have the start of a good link-earning strategy.
  • Guest blogging is an option, one that works well for those who have connections. It’s challenging to get started; if you haven’t guest blogged before, getting in on the first break can be a challenge. Don’t give up. Just as you often need money to make money, you need guest blogging gigs in order to earn more.

As we progress through 2014, remember that the old school link-building strategies may be dead, but the art of link-earning is alive and well. This is better for you (and us) because it allows for manual quality to supersede bulk systems. When quality is the concern, you’ll win most of the times through sheer effort and knowledge.

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