Do you ever wonder why so many of the old search engines went bankrupt or lost their market share? What happened to Why was Google able to overtake a juggernaut like Well, Google figured out how to deliver high quality sites with their search engines more often than their competition. To do so, they used the wisdom of the crowds.

The idea is that if someone links to a website, then that is a pretty good sign. If a lot of people link to a website, then that is a really good sign. This was a revolutionary concept, and these days all SEO Consultants will tell you about the power of backlinks. In theory, backlinks should be natural. Your website should get a backlink because it provides useful content. However, some people tried to pay for backlinks. That spelled failure for many websites. As Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s Webspam team said in 2013:

“Google tends to look at buying and selling links that pass PageRank as a violation of our guidelines and if we see that happening multiple times, repeated times, then the actions that we take get more and more severe,” Cutts said. “So we’re more willing to take stronger action whenever we see repeated violations.”

Google caught on and these days paying for a website is a bad idea. Because of this bad SEO tactic, many large publisher and e-commerce sites were penalized from poor SEO Backlinks and are still rebuilding their Google rank, even after years large re-builds, restructures and redesigns of their websites. The key to better linking is to have Natural links. In a recent Google study and story on MOZ on backlinks, it was confirmed that unnatural links are indeed dangerous to Google rank.

In today’s SEO environment and moving forward, as I mentioned in a previous post about The Future of SEO, the majority of off-page ranking factors that make up trusted and qualified links stem from:

  • Qualified Online Directories
  • Real Online PR efforts
  • Credible online media sources
  • Influential Bloggers in industry
  • Appropriate Social Signals

So it is not so much about the volume of backlinks that will give you SEO success, although many “SEO Consultants” from backlinking companies would disagree. This is why, for my current, past and future SEO clients I stress the importance of proper SEO Strategy using tools and indicators from my peer SEO leaders like MOZ.