Evolution of link building

Evolution of link building

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Links were primarily used in the early days of the internet for navigation and to direct users to similar content.

Link building, however, evolved into a more deliberate and purposeful activity once search engines like Google appeared and started using links as a ranking component.

Link building has changed and is still advancing quickly today. Keep on reading to find out more about the evolution of link building.

What Is Link Building?

The process of obtaining links from other websites pointing to your own website is a simple explanation for the concept of link building. This is often referred to as the process of generating inbound links to specific web pages on your website. In the end, link building’s main goal is to boost a website’s search engine optimization (SEO) by raising its exposure and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

The History of Link Building

Link building had its roots in the early days of search engine optimization (SEO) when websites were developed and connected to one another to generate a network of data. Since the 1990s, link building has been developing in various ways and has continued to do so.

The link-building techniques employed 20 years ago are not the same as those we use now. Let’s have a look at how link-building emerged.

Link Building in the Mid-1900s: Web Rings and Link Farms

One of the earliest methods of connecting other websites was through web rings. They would perform in a circular motion, as suggested by their name. They were a particular kind of early online community that allowed websites to be connected to one another in a ring-like or circular pattern. When the web was still developing, web rings were widely used in the middle of the 1990s.

Web Rings and Link Farms

Web ring

A web ring was made up of a collection of similar websites connected by a common navigational structure. Through the connections offered on the real web page they accessed, users would start on one website and ultimately end up on another.

For example, if you looked up “How to build a treehouse?” You might start by visiting a website that you believe will offer the necessary information. However, the next thing you saw was a number of other connections that shared similar data.

web ring

History of Web Ring

Web ring allowed users to navigate between websites in the ring easily. Users could follow connections from one website to the next, allowing them to circle from one site to the next and back to the original.

Web Rings have been used for a variety of things, including marketing websites, building communities of people who share similar interests, and driving traffic. Now as modern techniques are following up, this technique has vanished and is considered a relic of the early days of the web.

Web rings were trendy during this time, after which link farms followed web rings as another strategy that gained popularity. Link farming was developed to create circles of websites and maintain that number. It was a technique where one or more than one website hyperlink between one another to increase their inbound links and visibility on the search engines.
Although this technique was used to help businesses expand, it was misused as an SEO tactic. This method’s main goal was to improve websites’ Google rankings.

Inbound links

Link farm


Previously, the idea behind website quality was based on how many links it could gather. However, as Google’s algorithms developed, the emphasis shifted from quality to the actual quality of the linked pages. Now, the probability that your website will appear at the top of search engine results in increases if a popular website has liked your website.

By linking to a website, you are essentially promoting its value. The websites that makeup link farms by linking themselves to one another improve the value of each particular website and are used for supporting the website that someone wants to advertise.

It is possible to misguide the search engines by including a new website in this group of websites and trick the PageRank algorithm into believing that the new website must be extremely relevant since all of the other websites in the inner circle appear to be trustworthy and of high quality. While link farming may have had a positive effect in the olden times, its practice now is not encouraged and is regarded as a black hat link-building approach.

The development of a new strategy in 1996: Link Exchange

Although things were pretty smooth before 1996, with the idea of web rings, Tony Hsieh came up with a new technique. This was known as link exchange, also now known as reciprocal links.

These are the links that two websites exchange with one another. The concept is that each website agrees to connect to the others, creating two links that receive traffic from both websites. Each of the owners would be notified when their website was linked to the other.

But they, too, had their limitations. This technique was highly confusing; if you looked for “How to bake a cake?” it would also show results on “How to make donuts?”. Though these helped the marketers to an extent, they wouldn’t have followed the standards now.

Using email outreach and online directories:

After the development of email, marketers saw this as an opportunity to use it to grow their business online.

Email outreach

Email outreach became a marketing technique used to reach out to potential customers or partners by sending mass emails. This was the time when online directories also became popular.

Businesses would list their website on these directories, providing the users with a sea of information. Online directories, however, were vast, and the users didn’t know whether the link they were accessing would provide them with accurate information.

Link Types

We can be certain that what we mean when we refer to “link building” is the process of creating relevant hyperlinks. Links are an important factor of the internet since they define the destination URL used to travel to the specified website when a user clicks on them. Every link that you may come across is of a different type and has a different purpose.

Editorial link:

The first set of links will be editorial. Editorial links can be categorized as earned or natural links. This is because the traffic they receive from editorial links is not purchased, traded, or exchanged. These links are established when a website owner or editor connects to another website or page because they think the content is worthwhile and relevant to their audience. These links are gained through the creation of high-quality content.

Resource Link:

Resource page link building is the process of obtaining backlinks from websites that have well-maintained lists of links pointing to other websites, also known as resource pages. Resource links, as their name suggests, are used to offer additional data or sources to support the material on the page they are linked to.

Acquired link:

Acquired links are obtained through payment and distribution. These links are typically acquired organically through articles, blogs, paid linking, forum comments, and other means.

There are several methods for getting a link:

Image linking:

Image linking refers to the process of linking images on a website to other pages or websites. Infographics, pictures, and other visual information can be submitted to image directories so that they link back to your website.

Guest Blogging:

The SEO tactic of guest blogging, commonly referred to as guest posting, has been around for a while. It is a process where the writer writes and publishes a blog post on someone else’s blog or website to establish a relationship with the host blog or website and to promote the blogger’s own website by including a link back to it in the blog post.

Social Bookmarking:

The process of saving, classifying, and sharing web pages or other online content on social media platforms or social bookmarking websites is referred to as social bookmarking. Social bookmarking is seen as a way to improve search engine optimization (SEO) by building links and increasing the visibility of a website.

Link building in 2023:

Link building is likely to continue to evolve as search engines update their algorithms to better understand and evaluate the quality and relevance of links.

Link building

As search engines become more sophisticated, it will become increasingly important for website owners and marketers to focus on building high-quality, relevant links that add value to the overall user experience.

Challenges of Link Building:

Even though link building can be a great way to gain traffic in different ways, we cannot ignore that everything comes with certain pros and cons.

The same goes for link building. Link building is a complex and challenging task, and there are several key challenges that website owners and marketers need to overcome to build effective links that improve search engine optimization (SEO) and drive traffic to their websites.

Here are some challenges that you should expect to face while link building:

● Planning the right way

Planning to increase the number of backlinks pointing to your website demands engagement with people as well as a promise, an advantage, and dedication. Planning a link-building strategy considers the expertise of writers and strategic connections to give your project the best possible chance to succeed.

● Earning high-quality links:

To significantly impact search engine optimization (SEO), links must be of high quality, but obtaining high-quality connections from respectable and authoritative websites can be challenging.

● Staying within search engine guidelines:

The absence of domain authority on new websites is perhaps one of the biggest problems, making it harder to make the most of your campaign efforts. To prevent penalties or to have your website de-indexed, search engines have stringent criteria for link development that must be followed.

● Time and money:

Understandably, time and money are two constraints on many businesses. Your goals must accurately reflect your marketing requirements and objectives.

Best practices for link building:

To make sure you benefit from effective link-building techniques, there are some best practices you should exercise:

● Creating valuable, high-quality content:

Making valuable and relevant content for your target audience is the cornerstone of good link-building. The user experience should be improved by this content, which should be original, well-researched, and well-written.

● Building relationships:

Building relationships with other websites and online communities is key to link building. To establish connections and acquire high-quality links, reach out to other blogs and websites in your niche, take part in online forums and discussion groups, and work together on projects and initiatives.

● Focusing on editorial links:

Editorial links are those that a website acquires by producing worthwhile content and establishing connections with other websites and online communities.

Compared to other forms of connections, such as directory links or reciprocal links, these links are often more valued and have a bigger effect on search engine optimization (SEO).

● Avoiding link schemes:

Websites that use link schemes are often penalized by search engines. Focus on developing organic, high-quality editorial links by producing worthwhile content and establishing connections with other websites and online communities in order to avoid penalties.


Google Penalty


Link building has maintained its position in the field of digital marketing for a very long time. Link building is an important factor of SEO and should be used consistently. With the proper approach, you, as a business owner, will eventually reap the rewards of link development in several ways.

The one catch, though, is that you have to be careful, have a plan, and genuinely understand what beneficial effects you may have and how. Building links consistently will increase traffic and help the company grow quickly.


What is a link scheme?

A link scheme, commonly referred to as link spam, is a collection of strategies used to illegally obtain links from other websites to influence a website’s ranking in search engine results artificially. The technique of using link schemes is regarded as unethical and is known as “black hat SEO” (Search Engine Optimization).

What is black hat link building?

Black hat link-building is a group of unethical techniques used to manipulate search engine results. These actions violate search engine policies and may lead to penalties or even the entire removal of a website from the results page. This can involve automated link building, cloaking, and link spamming.

What is broken link building?

Finding broken links on other websites, fixing them, and providing your own content as a replacement are all parts of the link-building approach known as “broken link building.” This technique aims to improve user experience on the web by repairing broken links and generating links to your own website.

Gaby Alexander

Gaby Alexander

Gaby is a search marketing enthusiast with a passion for helping agencies improve their ROI through effective link-building strategies. With expertise in Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, and SEMrush, Gaby provides valuable insights and guidance to optimize search marketing campaigns.

Gaby Alexander

Gaby Alexander

Gaby is a search marketing enthusiast with a passion for helping agencies improve their ROI through effective link-building strategies. With expertise in Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, and SEMrush, Gaby provides valuable insights and guidance to optimize search marketing campaigns.

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