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Has Google Changed its Stance on Link Building?

For years, webmasters and SEO companies placed such enormous focus on link building (the process of getting backlinks from high quality websites as a way to improve one’s search engine rankings) that Google had to introduce highly controversial algorithms as a way of penalizing those who went about link building the wrong way, in an effort to unethically gain better rankings.

That is why it is so surprising that on May 27, unannounced, Google changed the article that addressed rankings within the Google Webmaster Help site – specifically, to eliminate the part that recommended getting backlinks. Although the company has not officially commented on the amendment to its recommendations, the revision is aligned with comments made by Matt Cutts in a video on June 3. “I wouldn’t put too much of a tunnel vision focus on just links,” Cutts said. “I would try to think instead about what I can do to market my website to make it more well known within my community, or more broadly, without only thinking about search engines.”

But what was the change Google made in its official webmaster guidelines? Here is what the Webmaster Help article on rankings used to say in regards to links:

In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.

Now, it has been changed to:

In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.

If Google wants to highlight sharing as a major part of the algorithm now, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, the company wants to promote Google+, and tap into the power that other social media sites have by using them as a greater way to influence rankings.

Eventually, black hat SEO companies could figure out how to use this to their advantage (just like they did with link building). But in the meantime, webmasters and their SEOs should start moving the budget over to content creation. It is clearly where the tide is turning.

Plus, anyone who loathes the link building process – many people do, now that getting good backlinks has become harder – should be thrilled that Google wants them to stop worrying about getting links, and start focusing on creating better content. Creating quality content is not as hard as it seems; all it takes is an understanding of what the audience wants to read. Need some help creating better content? Contact Crest Media, an Austin area SEO company that specializes in content creation for small business websites.

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