Link Building Versus Link Earning: What’s the Difference?

November 30, 2012

If you’re still spending your time building links to keep your website relevant and ranking high, it’s time to stop. There are better ways to improve your SEO and link building is not one of them. In fact, link building can earn you a trip down in rankings now, rather than up.

According to Rand Fishkin, link building is out. But link earning is in. We agree with Rand, so here are some important things you need to know about earning your links.

The Downfall of Link Building

If there is one thing Google has taught us in 2012, it is that they do not like link building. The Penguin algorithm update last spring penalized sites that were abusing link building. Later on, exact match domain links were penalized and even more recently, article links and directories have been hit.

Obviously, Google wants us to stop link building! No more buying links. No more acquiring links artificially. No more actively seeking out and adding links. Instead, we are being pushed towards link earning.

Content is Key

Link earning is a welcome change for ethical SEOs who want to promote great content. Content creation has always been the best way to gain backlinks from relevant websites, but it wasn’t a nice and easy way to increase your links like buying them was. So, many webmasters skipped the content part of gaining links and went straight to buying them. Now they find themselves with a lot of links, but very little content and it’s hurting their rankings.

How Do I Earn Links?

Now the question becomes how do you earn links? The main idea is to earn backlinks from authoritative sites based on content that you create.

Here are a few techniques that have proven successful with the search engines.

  • Natural links earned through partnerships and cross promotion. This kind of link earning occurs very naturally such as when one company mentions the other via a blog post, article or other type of content. Contrary to the old techniques of reciprocal links and link exchanges, these links are not contrived, nor are they anchor text links to specific pages.
  • Social media and social sharing. You may find an article that you want to share with your network. So you share it. With any luck, it will get passed on by others and you’ll start getting links back in a very natural, organic way because readers are interested in what you have shared. You’ve now earned your links simply by sharing information.
  • Earn links with content. If you create content that others want to share, embed or link to, you can earn links. Become an authority in your industry and create great content that can be broadcast socially or via blogs, articles, press releases, etc.
  • Submit to curated lists and directories. Just submitting your links to any old directory won’t earn you any links. But if you submit to certain directories, it can pay off. The key is to find a directory that is curated or maintained and updated regularly. This could be something as simple as a Yelp list or a BBB directory or something as high-profile as a “Who’s Who” directory in your industry.
  • Be a guest blogger or writer. This will only work if you are a guest blogger on very particular sites and blogs. You want to do this for sites that are viewed as authorities in your industry. They’re pickier about who they let on the blog, but if you can land one of those guest posts, it can pay off tremendously simply because of where you blogged – on a well-respected, authoritative expert site for your field.

Link earning has the potential to not only improve your site rankings, but perhaps more importantly, transform your site into a respected authority. Think of earned links as testimonials. When you earn a link, an outsider is linking to you and saying to the online community, “This site has the information I need and trust. You should look at it too.”

As you earn more and more links in this completely natural manner, you’ll see your site rise in the rankings and wonder why you didn’t start earning links sooner.


The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Revolution Flyers, Inc.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 30th, 2012 at 5:50 am and is filed under SEO/Web Development . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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