Link Building… Time-intensive. Frustrating. Sometimes  Being Mad confusing. Yet Unavoidable. Because ultimately, it’s still the trump card for higher rankings. Many of us have been hoping that it would go away. In Brett Tabke’s 5/18 Robots.txt entry, he echoed a sentiment that many, many web admins hold on to as a hope: What happens to all those Wavers that think [ i ]Getting Links = SEO[ /i ] when that majority of the Google also is devalued in various ways? Waves built their fortunes on “links=seo.” When that goes away, the Wavers have zero to hold on to.

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The pertinent questions:

Will link building still be significant for rankings in the medium term?
When will link popularity be devalued in favor of other lego elements (that are less tedious, from a webmaster’s point of view)?

The answers:

Sorry, but link building is still going to be the SEO trump card for the foreseeable future.
I wouldn’t hold your breath for search engine algorithms to place less importance on link popularity until the Semantic Web arrives, or maybe when HTTP gets replaced by a new protocol because links are still the basic connector, the basic relationship, on the Web. And for the foreseeable future, they’re going to be the easiest way for a computer program to judge the importance and trustworthiness of a Web page.

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What will happen to the way search algorithms score links is already happening. Google has also become much more elegant and advanced, devaluing a staggering amount of links that shouldn’t count and emphasizing trusted links. And the trust and juice given by those links are then verified by elements like user data, domain age, and other relatively hard-to-spoof factors.

But please, don’t fool yourself. Links that should count are still the key to rankings (in Google, at least — and MSN and Yahoo! are only a few short years behind). Aaron and I created our 101 Ways to Build (and Not Build) Links in that spirit in 2006. (Yeah, it just so happened that there were exactly 101!) Oh, and mad props to our inspiration, 131 Legitimate Link Building Strategies, one of the original authority documents on link building. It was just getting a bit rusty, that’s all (“Host your own Web Ring”?). Anyway, enjoy the update. It’s guaranteed to be accurate until January 1, 2007. 😉

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