Is Link-Building Dead in 2015?

What is Link-Building, and Is Link-Building Dead in 2015?

By: Rassin Roshan | April 6, 2015 |

Since the start of this year, 2015, I noticed how industry leaders as well as business executives, ask the same question. Is Link-Building dead in 2015?  “NO!”  This simple answer does not seem to satisfy many concerned people.

People confuse on-page and off-page optimization, with link-building. Websites that contain more than one page need off-page optimization.  In simple terms, create content rich pages, link the pages to each other and link them to similar content.  So how is this different than, “Link-building”?


Link-Building, is a term that we use for linking websites to qualified sites. In the past, some companies would go to “Link Farming” and have irrelevant sites backlink to their target site. (Link Farming is a negative approach and is categorized under Black Hat SEO.) Within time, Google noticed how some companies used this back linking excessively, and in turn companies using such faulty strategies were panelized.  e.g. J.C. Penney.

If you all recall, early 2011, J.C. Penney took a different approach on search engine optimization (SEO). They hired a local marketing firm called “SearchDex”, to implement a strategy, that would rank high!  SearchDex implemented an intense keyword and search query for every product that J.C. Penney sold. Within a short time, Penney’s would rank incredibly high on every product keyword.  The New York Times investigated J.C. Penney’s online marketing strategy.  It is incredible for a retailer to rank higher than before in a short time.  An investigation took place and the results were that J.C. Penney used an unpaid (organic ) search engine optimization approach.  It is applaudable to create an extraordinary organic search strategy and rank high.

However, after digging further, it became clear that J.C. Penney’s website received backlinks from many irrelevant websites that were over optimized on all anchor texts. This study case is known for “JC Penney’s Black Hat Link Building.”  

To make matters worse for J.C. Penney, The New York Times presented their findings to Google.  In turn, Google investigated and announced that the tactics used by J.C. Penney were violating Google webmaster guidelines.  Shortly after J.C. Penney could not be found for the queries it previously ranked number one.

From one side J.C. Penney did Google a favor to validate that Google’s algorithm works. From the other side, Penney’s lost face, stock plunged, and the company had to reconstruct its management team and fired their SEO firm, SearchDex.

In conclusion, “Link-Building” has to be done wisely!  Every website will benefit from a healthy link-building strategy, as well as a healthy social media strategy. How to implement organic link-building is based on how you execute your social media campaign.  Therefore, link-building is not dead in 2015.

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