Timothy Carter is the CFO of DEV.co and SEO.co. Tim & his teams specialize in custom software development, web design and digital marketing.
Backlink building is, without question, the most controversial and hotly debated issue in search engine optimization (SEO). And it’s easy to understand why. It’s practically impossible to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) without ample backlinks pointing to your site; that’s because you’re ranked based in part on your perceived authority, and your authority is calculated based on the quantity and quality of links pointing to you.
Here’s the additional wrinkle; Google specifically discourages sites from building links to intentionally manipulate their authority or rankings. If you’re caught engaging in link schemes or spamming links, you’ll catch a penalty – which could range from a minor inconvenience to a total catastrophe for your site.
Modern link-building practitioners take Google’s policies (and threats) very seriously. Accordingly, they only build links by employing the best possible content, ensuring that web users and search algorithms alike find their links to be high-quality and valuable.
It’s a nice workaround, but it’s also a time- and money-intensive process. Is it possible to build links without writing content?
The Role Of Content In Link Building
Content serves a dual purpose when it comes to link building, but in both settings, it seeks to achieve similar goals. Content is the perfect tool to establish context for your work, and it’s a great way to add value to web users – rather than just spamming the web with links.
Onsite content is valuable because it’s an excellent anchor point for your links. Links are much less likely to be removed, red flagged or marked as spam if they’re pointing to a high-quality piece of onsite content, as opposed to, say, a landing page for buying weight loss pills. Because of this, onsite content is important regardless of whether you’re manually building offsite links or you’re simply trying to naturally attract links to your site.
Offsite content is valuable because it gives you control over how your links are placed, how they’re seen and how they lead back to your site. Assuming you can write an interesting, valuable article for a high-authority publisher, you can often work in a link back to your own site – and benefit from the referral traffic and authority it sends your way. Over time, as you gain a better reputation as a brand and as an author, you’ll be able to work with bigger and more authoritative publishers, eventually building and earning better links.
The Logistics Of Non-Content Link Building
If you want to build links without writing content at all, you actually face two problems.
First, you’ll have no viable way to manually or reliably build external links in content. Instead, you’ll be relying entirely on links that other people create pointing back to your site – or links of your own that you build in isolation.
This isn’t an impossible situation. You could donate to a nonprofit organization to have your link featured as a donor. You could seek to be interviewed by major publications and earn links that way. You could even volunteer to replace broken links you find on the internet with links pointing back to your active site.
But that leads us to the second problem: you won’t have onsite content to point back to. There are some contexts and some sites that will be perfectly fine with linking back to your home page, a contact page or a product page. But for the most part, publishers and website prefer to link to strong, well-written internal pages (and blog posts). If you’re trying to build links without any content whatsoever, you’ll find it hard to get the links you need.
Other Roles For Content In SEO
Let’s also not forget that onsite content has other roles in SEO in juk – it’s not just about attracting links. High-quality written posts on your website will make it more authoritative. You’ll get more pages that can potentially rank in SERPs. And most importantly, each post you write will give you more opportunities to optimize for specific target keywords and phrases that are relevant to your brand and your audience. If you forgo this avenue of joe SEO development, even an abundance of external links may not be enough to help you rank.
The Bottom Line
Is it possible to build links for your SEO campaign without the use of content?
From a strictly technical perspective, the answer is yes. You can build links to your site without spending time or effort on the content to power those links. But doing so is a massive disservice to your campaign – and a way of wasting your true potential. Not only will you be giving up all the peripheral advantages of content creation, you’ll also be sabotaging your true link-building potential. Content makes link building easier, more accessible and more natural in the eyes of both users and search engines. It’s not worth skipping.
Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales and biz dev executives. Do I qualify?