8 experts talk link building in 2015 (infographic)

How to earn links


Link building is tainted by a shady past. There have always been people who do it properly but link spam was effective so link building ended up as no more than a tactic with a bad name. In the bad old days the quantity of links to a site was a more important ranking factor than quality so websites ended up paying for links that they now pay to disavow. Link building in 2015 has moved on.

In 2015 there’s a move away from the term link building with its air of fakery to link earning based on solid content that people want to link to out of genuine interest. But I believe the term ‘link building’ should still be used for today’s solid activities – it’s the past use of the term which was wrong, ‘building’ was too noble a word.

What Google wants to reward

Link building has always been one of the most reliable strategies for improving search rankings. The only thing that’s changed is that now you must do it from the perspective of what adds value to the user experience, that’s what Google wants to reward.

So all you have to do is attract quality links from quality sources, and forget the spammy practices…

I’ve broken up the infographic to give each section a closer look. You can explore the full infographic on the next page or download the original from Digital Marketing.

  1. Earn ‘hard links’ and not ‘easy links’


    The type of links Google wants to find don’t scale easily. Links that do scale are exactly those that Google wants to ignore or punish. As a rule of thumb, the more effort it takes to build a link the more valuable it will be.

  2. Transition link building to link earning


    Link building in 2015 means offering something of unique value to web users. The focus is on meeting user expectations and satisfying their queries by giving them the content your title describes. This should be something useful that earns links. In the same way that a lead magnet earns email addresses.

  3. Link building with epic content


    Increasingly the key to ranking in Google will be making richer content and a better user experience. This is the main reason we’ve seen the explosion in content marketing.

  4. Link building in 2015 means engaging through social media


    Social media ratings do factor in Google rankings. But it’s through links that the web works and not Likes. Without a doubt Google will go on scraping links as a more important indication of value than what gets clicked on social media.Whatever importance Google gives social signals in themselves, social media does get your page in front of an audience, which is how you pick up the organic links that Google wants to see.

  5. Speed up natural link building


    Google wants to reward a good user experience which means links should take users to the best place. It has said that it only wants to count links that are ‘natural’. As Eric Ward suggests above the best approach for SEO is to speed up this natural link building, it’s not something that can be manufactured.

  6. Earn links that deliver relevant traffic


    What Rand Fishkin is saying is that you should focus on building links with a purpose. This is the opposite of old-style spammy links which existed for no reason other than to fill a quota. Did anyone even click on them?

  7. Use link building techniques that still work


    There are many techniques for link building in 2015. Most strategies of the past would now be considered ‘black hat’, something that companies should strive to distance themselves from or face the wrath of Google.‘White hat’ techniques consist of methods to improve user experience, such as the above examples of great content, sharing and guest blogging. Another great technique (which I’m using in this post) is the infographic.

  8. Use the best link building tools


    For me the mainstay tool is the free Google Search Console (which used to be called Google Webmaster Tools). I’m planning a review article of other options.

Google still relies on links to find, rate and index websites in 2015. Is that news? Regardless of how good your content you need links pointing to it for the system to work. What I’m learning is that if your content is good then those links will appear naturally.

Link building should be integrated with your other strategies in the creation of a valuable user offering. Focus on creating great content that deserves links, you can’t encourage people to link to anything else. If you agree, please link to this article!


You can explore the full infographic on the next page or download the original from Digital Marketing.

8 experts talk link building in 2015 (infographic)
8 experts talk link building in 2015 (infographic)
Google still uses links to rate your content. But link building in 2015 means showing people the value that they will want to link to.
  • Hi, Carol, thanks for dropping by.

    ‘Earning’ is definitely the buzzword nowadays, very different from creating haphazard links like in the past.

    I think your site is well-placed for these trends, they all seem to be reflecting Google’s need for sites to be as good as they describe and offer people good content. People have been going through hoops to get where you’re at anyway :)

    Good to se you, enjoy the rest of the week!

  • Hey Donald,

    Great post here.

    I as well never heard of link earning. But, like you, I believe that it should still be used — regardless of the negative connotation to it.

    I think too many people link drop just for the sake of doing it. And I can see where Google would be motivated to reward those that link earn more. I know for myself, I don’t abuse links to other sites … but I may need to be a little more strategic with it and implement some of what you shared here.

    Great stuff, Donald.

    – Andrew

    • Hi, Andrew

      There’s definitely been a lot of link-dropping because people thought it must help but Google’s been ignoring it at best and down-ranking sites too. It’s definitely a different tactic than it used to be. I’m glad to see you’ll implement it with these things in mind.

      Thanks for dropping by, almost the weekend, have a good one!

  • Hi Donald,

    This is a nice infographic that you’ve come across and broken down into chunks for us.

    I like Matthew’s comment about SEO game being a marathon, not a sprint. I think that epitomises what Google has tried to eliminate – people forcing links, rather than allowing natural good quality links to build up over time.

    Thanks for this good reference Donald!
    – David

    • Hi, David, good to see you!

      Glad you like the infographic, it’s got alot in there. I like to split up infographics into manageable chunks otherwise people don’t know where to look.

      SEO is such a long-term activity, so yes definitely a marathon. Looking back it’s unbelievable that forcing was so effective but now we’ve got a much fairer playing field.

      And thanks for subscribing to my email, you can tell me if it ever gets ropey :)

      Thanks for dropping by, enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  • Hi Donald,

    Ah, the words “link building” have at times been given such a bad rap. But things evolve and progress with time as most things do so what you’ve shared here, well I would say their advice is definitely spot on. I also haven’t heard the term link earning.

    I like what Matthew said actually that this is a marathon and not a sprint. I know that when people come online they want things today and no later than tomorrow. I spoke with a new client just yesterday and of course like most people, they want to make money now.

    When things are done the natural way, which of course means the slower route, then that’s what wins the race to me. It can be a slow race at times but when you do it this way not only do people notice but the search engines as well. All of these guys have given some pretty good advice so I guess now it’s time to really dive down deep and look at each of them for moving forward.

    Great infographic Donald and another good topic. We all definitely need to do link building.

    Hope everything is going well with you and you’re enjoying your weekend.


    • Hi, Adrienne, good to see you

      This has been a great weekend, glorious sun yesterday but a bit rainy today :)

      Link building always sounded a bit artificial which is where the new style of things comes in. Like you say the natural way is often the slow way but it’s what works.

      I’m surprised that no one seems to have heard the term link earning, the important thing is that’s what you already do :)

      Thanks for the words of a relationship expert, enjoy the rest of the weekend!


  • Hey Donald,

    This is a wonderful topic – given the so many changes that have taken place recently in the search engine and SEO arena!

    If you ask me, you don’t “build” links. You “earn” links. It used to be link building, but now it is link earning.

    Earlier we did link building for ourselves. Now by offering value and being useful we let others do it for us. We make others recognize us and link to us, rather than doing it ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful infographic :) Have a nice week!


    • Hi, Jane

      You do have to be so up-to-date with SEO best practices, it must be one of the most fast-changing things a blogger has to deal with.

      I think you’re one of the few people here who’s familiar with link earning, you’re really on the ball :)

      Thanks for dropping by!

  • Hi Donald,

    Indeed, link building can have a bad wrap because of those who are trying to link drop. I get many people in my back office that try to comment on tons of my posts. Hmm…Red flag to me and they don’t get approved because their link goes directly to a sales page. There are “link droppers” out there, but I won’t allow it on my blog.

    I just like things slow and steady. My visitors are awesome and before I even answer their comment, I go to their blog, comment and share on social media. Especially on Google+

    There are many things to consider like putting a short Youtube video in your blog, infographics and so on. But for me, I like to write for my reader’s sake and if Google likes it fine, if not meh!

    I haven’t heard of link earning and thank you for bringing that to my attention. I do have to look at that one more closely


    • Hi, Donna, really good to see you!

      Link dropping definitely gave link building a cheap image. A lot of the expert bloggers seem to know the difference straight away, it’s like it’s in your DNA :)

      Slow and steady seems to be the way to go, it’s what Google recommends and it’s what you do anyway, you can’t get much better than that.

      All those things you mention, like videos and infographics, they are really effective ways of ‘earning’ links the way you’re supposed to – even if you hadn’t heard of that term.

      Thanks for what you’ve added and for sharing, have a good weekend!

  • Hi Donald,

    I really enjoyed this. Link building is really an art in itself.

    Now that so many know about link building, you really have to earn every link.

    Your content, outreach and relationship building have to really be on point!

    Thanks for this Donald.

    • Hi Steven,

      You’ve got it right that link bulding is an art all in itself. It’s a whole set of different skills you’ve got to add to your blogging skillset. And like you say you’ve got to think of earning links with so many other links people are offered.

      Thanks for dropping by, have a good week!

  • Hi Donald,

    I never liked the whole premise behind link building but that’s the way Google arranged the game for so long.

    I found that building a community full of readers, engagers and collaborators made the link building process more organic and natural and has had amazing results for my SEO.

    The downside is it takes work, effort, time and energy. But, that’s the way it should be in my opinion. That way we earn the links and the SEO organically and without manipulation so that the audience searching for us has a great shot at finding great content that meets their needs or solves their problems.

    Fantastic article Donald!

    Have a great week…

    ~ Don Purdum

    • Hi, Don, what a perfect attitude!

      The ‘scheming’ aspect of link building was indeed a result of Google’s system that people were trying to game. Your natural approach is entirely in tune with how people have realised it should be done. Kudos for always being there anyway :)

      It does take a lot more work but I agree that’s how it should be. I’m so pleased you’re talking about ‘earning’ links, not many people use that terminology.

      Great to see you, have a good week!

  • Great tips and FAB strategy for getting relevant backlinks.

  • defale

    Thumbs up! Love the way you post all the blogs in much creative way.