As a link building service, our livelihood is tied to what Google does, so we pay close attention to how algorithm changes dictate link building best practices. We are also an agency that is focused on building links for the future.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good future proof link building strategy in place.
In the following article, we are going to do a couple of things, because future proofing is a two-part concept.
First, we are going to explore the potential of both AI and ML as they pertain to link building, how they are already being used, and what the future might look like for link building and link builders.
New technology and new paradigms are always double-edged swords, and there are both opportunities for pitfalls for anyone in the search engine optimization space (link builders, and everyone else).
Next, we are going to look at some of the link building strategies that will build you links that pass on link equity now and into the future. These aren’t so much specific link building methods as they are insight into a shifting link building paradigm.
The bottom line is that the biggest fear for a link builder is spending time and money on links that don’t work now and won’t stand the test of time.
Let’s get started.
Where we currently stand when it comes to AI and link building
AI and ML, despite the firestorm of coverage over the last year and the end-time proclamations from a lot of people in the SEO industry, are still in their early stages.
However, the technologies have already shown that they are well up to the task of streamlining the link building process. That’s really the good news when it comes to the impact of AI on link building.
It’s now easier (and in many ways, more affordable) to build backlinks thanks to automation. A few examples:
- ChatGPT makes it much easier and cheaper to write content.
- AI algorithms can quickly perform lightning-fast backlink analysis–analyze website content, backlink profiles and other relevance and quality factors–to help you determine the authority and relevance of potential link targets.
- AI-powered outreach tools help you better automate the process of writing and sending emails to websites.
- Using AI and ML to parse large amounts of data (from Ahrefs, for example) to do competitor analysis and come up with link building opportunities.
- Using AI and ML to better scale your link building efforts (i.e., faster and cheaper processes).
That’s one way to future proof your link building processes: harness the technology you have at your disposal to make building links less time-consuming and less expensive.
This is especially important as the Google algorithm continues to evolve in terms of how it values links.
Which leads us to the next part of the future-proofing conversation. How important are backlinks currently and how important will they be moving forward?
Google’s current thoughts on the importance of backlinks
Here is what Google’s Senior Search Analyst, John Mueller, has said about the importance of backlinks over the last couple of years:
In addition to:
The most important takeaway here is that links are still very important and not going away.
They will remain a fundamental part of search engine optimization, despite the Google algorithm being much better at evaluating content without the signals sent by backlinks.
You need backlinks to communicate authority and credibility, and a thoughtful, informed link building strategy is still crucial to ranking well and enjoying good organic traffic.
So what are some of the best future proofing link building approaches you can use to ensure that your link building efforts now (and in the future) aren’t one big waste of time and money.
We like to think of ourselves as a relationship agency rather than a strictly transactional link building agency.
Our successes are more about the relationships that we have managed to cultivate in the various industries we operate in.
We know what kind of content our network is looking for, their quality standards, and we carefully vet each and every site we partner and work with when building links.
This is what any and everyone looking to build valuable links should be doing. You don’t have to spam potential relationships with guest post offers right out of the gate.
Feel them out, figure out whether their site is a good fit for your specific link building needs (whether your building links for yourself or for someone else).
Get to know their content. Understand how they do SEO.
This is how you future proof your link building. You cultivate relationships, make connections–whether it’s through professional groups in your niche, or just reaching out to ask someone a question, make a suggestion or pay a compliment–and establish a network you can rely on to build links moving forward.
Building links to primary sources
Another big part of future proofing your link building is minimizing link rot, or ink decay (i.e., lost links).
You don’t want to spend the time and money on link building only to lose the links (and the link equity) in the future.
Bear in mind that losing links is just part of the game online. Websites get rid of pages (and the links on them) all the time.
Site owners neglect content or entire websites and pages return 404 errors.
Of course, you can try and recover lost links by reaching out to websites and site masters, but that’s work you’d rather not do.
The better approach is to build links to primary sources and reputable sites that have been around for a long time. Indie sites and solo blogs are much more likely to disappear (and your links along with them).
Natural links and creating linkable content
Search engines like Google have gotten very good at spotting links in a backlink profile that are unnatural. That is to say, essentially, they were built.
Link building is an important part of SEO, but Google would much rather that your content and your website–whether it’s a blog post or your home page–just acquire links naturally.
These are known as editorial links (where another website has stumbled upon your content and liked it enough to include in their own) and they are the gold standard for Google.
Natural links are future proof links because they were acquired without having to go out and ask people for backlink opportunities.
These are the kind of evergreen links that Google is always going to view as strong indicators of a trustworthy and authoritative website.
As long as backlinks remain a critical ranking factor, natural links are going to be the gold standard for any website’s backlink profile.
Judicious use of AI
When we talk about judicious or careful use of artificial intelligence, we are referring to AI-written content in the link building context.
What this really means is the extent to which you employ AI to write content for guest posts, link insertions and other kinds of common, effective modern link building techniques.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind with respect to the use of AI and future proofing your link building:
- What other sites want
- What Google expects
What other websites demand
As link builders, we have to have our finger on the pulse of what websites want when it comes to guest posts and other link placements.
One trend we have been noticing, however, is that many sites will no longer accept content that has been written by AI. There are plenty of free AI detectors that are surprisingly good at sniffing out ChatGPT, and a lot of websites will run your content through these programs before giving you the link.
If you’re looking for guest blogging (aka guest posting) opportunities, a lot of sites are increasingly shutting down AI-generated content because it provides a poor user experience, doesn’t satisfy search intent, and increases bounce (all bad for a website)
You can spend time and money creating content only to have it rejected. Some sites are upfront about their rules on AI, while others will tell you after.
The bottom line is that if you are going to be using AI to help with your content writing (which we don’t see why you shouldn’t), you can’t just leave it on autopilot.
A future proof link building strategy is one, therefore, that recognizes the value of AI while understanding that it is still in its infancy, regularly churns out pretty awful stuff, and Google is becoming increasingly picky when it comes to experience, expertise, authority and trust.
What Google expects
It is important to understand what Google expects of your content if you want to create articles that will continue to build and attract backlinks into the future.
If you want your content to attract a steady stream of natural inbound links over time, then you’ve got to make sure that your content is not only user-friendly but that it satisfies Google’s useful content requirements.
In short, Google cares about EEAT.
AI, in and of itself, is not against Google’s web developer guidelines, the guiding principle, as always, should be experience, expertise, authority and trust.
This means you can absolutely use AI to help you create content, just make sure that it is the kind of content that people are going to want to read.
Do this, and you are increasing the chances that your content will continue to land you editorial (i.e., natural backlinks) over the long term and that it will entice high domain authority websites with good editorial policies in place to entertain your link building propositions/requests.
It also makes it less likely that you will be linked to and then, at some point in the future, unlinked, when something better comes along. You want to spend as little time on link reclamation as possible and enjoy as much content marketing ROI as you can.
Work with link builders who know what they’re doing
If you’re going to be working with link building agencies or freelancers to build backlinks, it is more important than ever to do your due diligence when it comes to what they are offering.
As we previously mentioned, Google’s John Mueller has indicated that he foresees an SEO world in which backlinks become less important as the algorithm gets increasingly adept at sorting pages based on the quality of the content alone (particularly its ability to satisfy search intent).
Again, that is not at all to say that backlinks are not going to be an important part of ranking, organic traffic and sustainable lead generation for many online businesses.
It does mean that you have to be a lot more discerning when it comes to the kind of link building opportunities and strategic partnerships you pursue.
SEO, in general, is one of the industries where glaring information asymmetric (between client and service providers) make exploitation rampant, and there are still plenty of link builders out there (individuals and agencies) more than willing to sell you low-quality links, knowing full well they aren’t going to stand the test of time.
They might even end up hurting your traffic and ranking if Google considers an inbound link (or many of them) egregious enough to merit a manual actional penalty.
You need to be careful about where your own links links are coming from and inform yourself of the variety of link building scams that are still out there and which unscrupulous link builders will still try to use.
A future proof link building strategy begins with knowing what Google wants
To really future proof your SEO efforts, whether it’s link building or anything else, you need to know what Google wants and where it’s going.
It can be hard to discern this sometimes, especially if you are not in the business of building backlinks and haven’t been along for the wild and crazy ride of core updates over the last decade.
If your finger is not on the pulse of modern link building, it’s easy to make potentially fatal mistakes.
Dofollow is one of the industry’s leading link building agencies, and we have been building user-centric, Google-friendly links for years. Schedule a call and find out more about whether our services are right for you and how we can help you skyrocket your search ranking and organic traffic.
Why Trust Us On SEO
Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.
Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.
While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.