Is It Better to Earn Links or Build Them Directly?

Links are a gateway to higher visibility on the web. They give your brand more visibility immediately, they generate referral traffic, and they boost your domain authority so you can rank higher in search engines. But there are two schools of thought for how you should approach link building: according to some, it’s better to simply develop great content and earn your links naturally, while others believe it’s more efficient to build links directly yourself.

Defining Link Building and Link Earning

According to Link.Build, one of the top priorities in any link building campaign should be quality – and both link building and link earning focus on quality in different ways.

With link earning, your goal will be to attract links as naturally and as hands-free as possible. You’ll write a series of strong pieces of onsite content, including long, detailed, original posts – the kind of posts that other people would want to link to. Including original data, including results of original research, can help tremendously. After promoting and sharing this work, you’ll cross your fingers and hope that the right people see it and link to it in works of their own.

With link building, you’ll be taking matters into your own hand. You’ll still be developing high-quality original pieces of content on your website, but you’ll take charge of linking to them. You’ll work with offsite publishers, making pitches and developing pieces for their target audiences; when relevant, you’ll include a link back to the original work on your own site.

The Perks of Link Earning

Link earning presents you with a handful of major advantages:

·         Practically no possibility of penalty. If you’re not careful, manually building links could leave you with a Google penalty; poorly written content, irrelevant links, or “unnatural” links can all negatively affect your rankings in search engines. But if you’re totally relying on other people building natural links, no one can accuse you of unnatural link building. You’re practically guaranteed to never have to worry about this. 

·         Cost effectiveness. Link earning is also highly cost effective. No matter what, you’re going to have to write high-quality, onsite posts – this is a sunk cost. But with link earning, all you’ll need to do is promote that work. You won’t have to go out of your way to try and place external links of your own.

·         Hands-off, stress-free approach. Many optimizers find link earning to be less stressful because it’s so hands-off. You don’t have to worry about publisher relationships, writing and publishing schedules, or your trajectory when scaling the strategy. You’re simply letting things happen naturally.

The Perks of Direct Link Building

However, there are some advantages to direct link building as well:

·         Direct control. When you commit to direct link building, you’ll instantly take control of the situation. Relying on others to build links to your site puts you on the sidelines; you can never be sure who’s reading your work and who’s interested in building links to it. With link building, you can target specific publishers and manually direct the campaign wherever you want it to go.

·         Reliability. This strategy is also much more reliable than link earning. Even with the best onsite content, there’s a chance that you won’t find anyone who naturally links to your work. But when you take matters into your own hands, you can practically guarantee results – even if it takes some time to get a publisher to accept your pitch.

·         Consistency. With link earning, some of your posts may earn hundreds of links, while others get nothing. But when you build links directly, you can even things out. You can build in some level of consistency, ensuring that all your best posts get at least some links – and guaranteeing some kind of growth trajectory.

·         Scalability. Link building is also highly scalable. As you gain more of a reputation, you’ll have the opportunity to work with bigger and more prominent publishers. Over time, you’ll get to build stronger, more authoritative links, and your website’s domain authority will blossom – though it will take a bigger investment to climb this ladder.

Why the Best Approach Is a Mix

As you can see, both link building and link earning come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. While link earning is a stable and risk-free approach, it also is notoriously unreliable – and if you don’t have amazing onsite content, you have practically no hope of seeing momentum from it. Conversely, link building is stable, scalable, and fully in your control – but it can seem unnatural if you aren’t careful.

Optimize your SEO campaign to include a mix of both link building and link earning. It’s the only way to get the best of both worlds.




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I'm Jethro. I'm a carpenter, and love to build things! You can find me in the garage or at work most days of the week.My sister is Crystal, who you might know from this very blog. Her son Johnny loves video games just as much as I do - so we have a lot of fun playing together!

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