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Link building is one of the most important elements of a viable SEO strategy. Yet it's also one of the most difficult and time-consuming.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that acquiring lots of inbound links is a goal and some even go so far as to buy links in bulk (a no-no) in the hopes that it will offer a shortcut.

Link building isn't that simple and sometimes a more nuanced approach can be beneficial, as evidenced by something we just noticed here at Econsultancy on our own website.

While going through Google Webmaster Tools, we noticed that the page on the Econsultancy website with the highest PageRank (a PR7) is an interview we conducted with Jakob Nielsen. If you look at the backlinks for this page, you'll notice that there aren't a whole lot. But one looks to be quite important: a link from Nielsen's website, which itself has a PR7.

Of course, the fact that this single inbound link likely contributed to our page's high PageRank almost singlehandedly won't surprise an SEO; it makes complete sense. But it is a great reminder that when it comes to link building, sometimes less is more. You don't always need to get tons of links to see a real impact; one great link can do a whole lot more than many average links.

Depending on the type of site you operate and the particular SEO landscape you face, it may make more sense to approach link building as a nuanced rather than an indiscriminate exercise. This means looking at your content development and baiting the right links, targeting that content to high-value prospective linkers and focusing on a smaller number of targets instead of the web at large.

This isn't always easy and it may not always be possible but it's well worth considering before you go out and try to get hundreds of inbound links from anyone who's willing to provide them.

Econsultancy will be presenting findings from the UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark report at this year's Search Marketing Expo London (@smx) on 18th May. Click here for details.

Photo credit: existentist via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 7 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Joshua Rex

Joshua Rex, Managing Director at Miomni Media

I agree that less is often more when it comes to link building.

We have another approach for your consideration. The Open IMU display media format automatically screen scraps RSS feeds from any site that embeds the format. If the site is of high authority and contextual, we publish the RSS feed inisde the Open IMU, thereby creating relevant inbound and outboud links.

Take a look at the following example. Click on the design news tab. All these sites have embeded the format.

http://blueantstudio.blogspot.com/2008/11/mydeco-design-box.html

http://thisisopen.com/blog

over 7 years ago

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Claire

It is very True, i have added one single PR7 link to a brand new site and domain, and it has gained a PR3. Less is more, but the less need to be complete quality. Not just good pageranks, but industry related. Many links i tend to find water down the search engine optimisation. Also getting too many links at the same time as you mentioned, is a little risky.

over 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Hello Patricio. Thanks for this example out of personal experience. I am working on a number of sites right now. It seems the sites with natural link growth and very few planted links (and those right on theme) is leaping in the SERPs. The sites with campaigned links are languishing in relative terms.

It suggests that Google is getting better at discerning gold and straw among links. A few strong editorial links every few months like that beautiful one from Jakob Nielsen look like must-haves.

over 7 years ago

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Krishna De

Patricio - thanks for sharing the experience you had.

I was speaking at Search Marketing World this last month and in his presentation I believe it was Chris Sherman of Search Engine Land who suggested that page rank is no longer something that Google actively works with and suggested it was not something we should be concerned about.

However a PR of 7 would be fantastic and if your tips help us achieve that then that is great that less is more.

over 7 years ago

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