I have been building websites and getting people to go to them since 1998. Doing it for such a long time does not always make you a better link builder, but it does give you a long view. It allows you to note that the current changes in the building of links to increase search engine rankings is just one more change in an constantly changing landscape.
The cost or value of links has changed too, experts would usually quote an average link on an average website, giving an average amount of Google juice would cost around $100 – $150. These would be links that would pass the “natural” test. You would need a few hundred of these links for the average niche to rank and get a decent ROI.
But what has happened is a whole level of the SEO industry has been eviscerated. These are SEOs who would rely on a fixed cost for link getting and could quite easily plan it out with blog network buys, industrial guest posting, web 2.0 articles, plus many more techniques that are available on black hat market sites.
Some of it still goes on of course and still works if you don’t abuse it.
Current link building best practice is more akin to PR than it is to SEO. The ironic thing is that the traditional PR agencies are still quite poor in achieving an effective ROI. This is because power has shifted from those slick smooth talking PR types to the passionate, creative, online digital publisher, or what we would call the Blogger.
Pick a jargon phrase and run with it – conversation marketing – inbound marketing – relationship marketing – content marketing – and so on. These phrases have a high copulation rate and so if you don’t like one another will be along shortly. If you employ a digital agency or find yourself on a self styled “guru’s” website, they will be using these types of terms and explaining how you need to buy their book that will reveal all.
But the reality is, the way you link build is actually quite ancient. It’s called “Publishing”. You create an idea, make it physical (ok digital but lets not distracted by semantics) by using a medium such as a blog post and then you share that idea with other people who react, hopefully in the way you desire.
It’s not about “build it and they will come”, publishing includes marketing, advertising, means of production, delivery etc.
To get links you need to be a publisher, you need to publish. Anything else is mechanics, the way or form in which you publish.
Effective publishing involves knowing the audience, achieving an effective ROI, developing relationships with those who consume the published material.
This is where effective link building resides right now. It could be argued that it has always resided in the concept of publishing (and as we know from Reddit pretty much anything can be argued).
Where does that leave you if you want and need links? You are probably not a publisher but sell something like, plumbing supplies online.
You simply have to build an efficient, effective publishing machine. This can be a one man band or a huge army of workers to build out a magnetic for links.
Your effort will have more effect if it is consistent, rather than a few linkbaits here and there.
Go get published and go get links.