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Having been the industry for a while now, we have seen
several the alterations on the link building scene first-hand. Link building is
the most essential (yet challenging) SEO skill. In fact, it is a culmination of
a number of different skills: you have to master content creation, programming,
psychology, sales, and the good old-fashioned marketing in case you want other
people to consistently link to your site. However, only the old-school veterans
will remember the link building exchange rush and when you were able to rank
for anything with just directories. If you work in the
SEO industry, you already recognize that the history of link building is rather
intricate and quite the roller-coaster. The actual history of building links especially
for SEO does not span a long length of time, however. Despite the relatively
short period of time involved, since SEO is fast-paced and evolving constantly,
the history of link building has been filled to the brim with interesting
stuff. Understanding the history and the movement of link building will help prepare
for the future of online marketing.

The Early Days

It all began in the late 1990s. Google was founded in 1998, and
based the core of their search around links. Quickly, SEOs learned that
building links would enhance their visibility in Google, a search engine which
quickly gained popularity. Unfortunately at this time link quality and relevance
were not as strong of factors as they are nowadays – link quantity reigned
supreme. And while the original goal of link building was to create links which
helped readers and added content context, this eroded as link quantity developed
to be a strong SEO factor. As it were, individuals who built spammy and faulty links
came out ahead. It became important to have an inflated backlink profile to remain
competitive.

The End of the ’90s
SEO Era

The early days was an unfortunate era of SEO and not at all
useful to search or internet users seeking to find legitimate information on
the Web. However, as any new movement advances, Google’s systems upgraded and
evolved over time, forcing SEOs to progress and evolve as well. Google then
began promoting excellence with a primary focus on user satisfaction. Google unleashed
new algorithms to keep spammers at bay, which worked to make the Internet a
more usable place for visitors interested in finding legitimate sites. In the late
90’s webmasters soon discovered that the approach to game search engines and
rank higher was by getting links back to their sites. The easiest way to
execute this was to ‘exchange’ links with other sites. Overnight, sites could
rank #1 for high traffic terms through acquiring a large number of backlinks.

The Early 2000’s

Once link exchanges were out the window, webmasters tried
their luck by simply mass-emailing sites and asking/’begging’ them for a link. With
the popularity of blogs mounting and nearly
everyone you knew having a blog, joining discussions and commenting on blogs
became one way to gain backlinks. Webmasters began getting clever and touting
web masters for links after offering payments. Google later-on pushed the no-follow
tag to help webmasters remain safe when selling non-editorial text links.

The Changing Point

Guest Blogging then rose as a popular link-building strategy
towards the end of the 2000s. Even though it had innocuously been around ever since
the birth of ‘blogs’, it had not been utilized anywhere nearly as much as in
the late-2000s for SEQ and link building. Broken link building started to became
rather popular with several SEQ agencies within the late 2000’s. Link builders would
then basically go out and get broken links on authoritative websites, and ask
the web master to replace the broken links with a link to their client. More
recently, Press Releases have been used to mimic popularity and also to gain
links. Press Releases are an excellent way of announcing new products or
milestones, but it does sometimes get abused.

The Future

With social media signals supposedly having some effect on rankings,
we might see a surge in Facebook likes and tweet services becoming popular in the
underworld or even the majority of ‘serious’ SEO-companies and brands out there
may even give a bigger push on the content side and ‘real’ internet marketing as
search engines become cleverer and SEOs become more about awesomeness rather than
algorithm hacking.

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