That’s because over the past few years the practice has see-sawed between best practice and guaranteed penalty.
The latest turn in the link building saga is word from Google big wig John Mueller who recently dismissed the practice in a live interview saying:
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.
So there you have it. Link building is bad, except when it’s not.
In a very solid rebuttal titled, Yes, Virginia, Link Building Will Always Be Good for Your Website, SEO Theory point man Michael Martinez, lays out some instances when link building is still a pretty good idea.
Martinez counsels SEOs to use links sparingly, and in a natural way. He also strongly advises against using link building as your sole SEO strategy. And he’s right.
What has tripped up more than a few web publishers is a slavish devotion to the idea that link building is the be-all, end-all. It never was and most folks gave it more credit than it ever deserved.
As it stands, link building is a concept you might want to tuck away and forget about while you go about the business of creating good, meaningful, shareable content.