Google finally came out and said it: link building is bad. Of course, they were a little more politic than that. The company is famous for obfuscating when it comes to questions about their search algorithm. And can you really blame them? It is, after all, their secret sauce.

Last week, however, we got as definitive an answer as we ever have on whether or not to pursue link building. During a Google+ hangout, Google’s webmaster trends analyst John Mueller said sites would be better off avoiding link building altogether.

One of the participants asked Mueller, “Is link building in any way good?”

Here’s how Mueller responded:

That is a good question.

In general, I’d try to avoid that.

So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.

We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.

Check out the video below:

Anyone who’s been following the twists and turns of the Google algorithm over the past few years won’t be surprised by this development. Ever since it released its Penguin update, Google has been turning against sites that go out to get links purely for the sake of having more links. Of course this includes sites buying links from link farms, but it also includes any sites that are going out and link building in the narrow sense of the term.

This makes sense. Links are supposed to be an endorsement of your site and the content on it. That’s why Google (still) values them. But if you bought them, or used any other unnatural tactic to acquire them, then those links no longer count as genuine endorsements.

This change has bamboozled lots of old school SEO agencies and consultants whose bread and butter was helping sites game the Google algorithm. But these changes fit right in with our emphasis on SEOUX™ – which elevates user experience to a position of equal importance as search engine optimization.

A SEOUX™ philosophy holds that if no one is conceivably going to see or click on the links you’re planting around the web, there’s no reason for them to be there. Instead of wasting time on a bunch of spammy links, invest that energy into making your site as useful and share-worthy as possible. That’s the approach we pursue with our clients and that’s why we never worry about the next Google algorithm update. When you’re already doing the right thing, you don’t have to live in fear.