Some brands are allocating too much of their budgets to traditional link-building strategies, when studies show the most effective tactic is content marketing.

For some SEOs, building links is the primary motivating factor for their marketing strategies. For others, it’s a metric of success. Either way, it’s obviously an important part of website’s profile – so why is there so much confusion about how to carry it out without venturing into spam territory?

Moz just released findings from the Skyrocket SEO Link Building Survey, which asked agencies, freelancers, marketers, business owners and professional SEOs about their link-building strategies and successes. While there’s still some confusion around link-building tactics, one thing is clear: Quality content is a standout tool for attracting links.

Brands have trouble budgeting for links

According to the survey, businesses and marketers can’t agree on how much to spend on link-building. One quarter spent less than 25 percent of their SEO budgets on link-building, while another quarter allocated between 25 and 50 percent to that goal. Another 40 percent of respondents dedicate between 50 and 75 percent, begging the question: Do SEOs know how much they actually SHOULD spend on link-building?

The most telling takeaway may be how survey participants go about effecting a link-building strategy. The top answer was content and outreach (21 percent), while number two was infographic promotion (14 percent). Traditional link-building activities scored much lower: Guest posts (12 percent), competitions and giveaways (8 percent), paid links (6 percent) and forum profile links (2 percent).

How did survey participants go about effecting a link-building strategy? The top answer (21 percent) was content and outreach.

The confusion about link-building budgets probably comes from the fact that content marketing is the best way to attract inbound traffic. And because that practice has so many other benefits (engagement, awareness, lead generation), it’s difficult to parse out the total contribution it makes to link accumulation.

Organic traffic builds links naturally

As Brafton reported, Google encourages websites to think about links as ‘editorial votes.’ That is, the higher a page’s quality, freshness and relevance, the more it will earn votes of confidence from other places on the web. And there’s a very real correlation between links Google’s overall evaluation of a page’s value. Brands should focus on creating the best possible content and distribute it to target audiences, who will ideally share it and generate links back to the site because the information was valuable. 

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.