Why Link Building is a Waste of Time, & What to Focus On Instead (Video)

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Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

link building guide


Are backlinks and link-building important as a ranking factor?



But, do you have to spend hours a day or week building links to earn them?


In today’s NEW video on my YouTube channel, you’re going to learn the truth about link building when it comes to building a brand that lasts online, gains recognition, and earns real authority.

I’m going to reveal why I believe the majority of the link building techniques are a complete waste of time 98% of the time 🤯; what to focus on instead; and three ways to build links that are more powerful, more worth-it, than any of the short-term techniques or hacks you read about online.

Hear the truth on link building from someone that’s built multiple businesses through organic content marketing. My goal is to help you focus on the online growth practices that work, and stop wasting time.

Let’s get into today’s topic!

Storytime: Why Link Building Doesn’t Matter, and Why It’s Irrelevant to Building a Great Brand

Back in 2011, I was 19 years old.

I was trying to work my way towards an R.N. degree, but I was failing college — and realizing I would make a horrible nurse.

One morning, I decided to pursue and discover what I loved to do, and make a career out of it. That was writing, combined with online entrepreneurship and starting businesses (even though I may not have known the latter at the time).

That very morning the idea hit me, I did a Google search on how to make money online writing, and after a ton of dedication and hard work applying myself to learn a new trade tied to my passions, within three months I had a booming freelance business on my hands.

I took the last $75 I had in my bank account, bought a domain name, learned HTML and coded my first website myself, and launched a business called Express Writers.

content hacker woman rising book cta CTA2
Read the full story of how I built my brands, including the reality of growing up in and escaping a religious cult, in my all-new memoir.

Nine years later, this business has 90 team members on staff, including my husband, and we’ve served over 5,000 businesses, and completed over 20,000 projects.

Our website, expresswriters.com, generates 99.9% of our business, clientele, and new revenue. It’s our marketing engine. Amazon’s Alexa Traffic rank, a completely free tool that tells you the popularity of your website–and one of the tools I trust the most for this data–puts us at the 24,000th most popular website global. We earn 100,000 visitors organically per month — no paid ads whatsoever.

So why did I share this story?

Because we’ve done it without seeking a single backlink.

…Without sending ONE link building outreach email.

The truth is, if you’re an entrepreneur, marketer, or brand builder focusing on link-building techniques, and you’re putting hours into specific link building outreach, I believe you’re wasting 98% of your time.

Those efforts should never be the focus of a business owner and a brand builder.

You are essentially putting the byproducts of building a good brand ahead of building the actual BRAND itself.

To put it bluntly:

It’s less ROI, and anti-long term, to focus on building links — instead of earning them.

And earning them, while it requires more commitment, dedication, and upfront work, is far more worth it if you want to create a brand that turns into a legacy and becomes, well, KNOWN.

So if you’re focusing on the technique, the byproduct, and that’s what you spend hours on as a business owner and brand builder, you lose focus on building your audience, brand itself, and authority in the market — which is far more valuable than any one technique — and you lose momentum in the market.

Not to worry if you’re guilty of this, though. Even the best experts have strayed in link building. One of my personal industry heroes, Brian Dean, has even shared that back in 2012 he was focusing on link building techniques that were, well, blackhat. Then, Google’s Penguin update wiped out 98% of his traffic! Brian had to rebuild from scratch, and he focused on building an incredible brand, and launching original concepts e.g. “the skyscraper technique” that went on to earn 5,000 backlinks for that one single blog post.

So, what should you be doing instead of spending hours on link building techniques that are, the majority of the time, a complete waste of time?

I have three methods that will help you focus on brand-building rather than link-building. Put these to use right away to earn links.

Remember: earning links is far more valuable than building them.

3 Ways to Earn Lasting Backlinks And Grow Your Brand (Without Forcing It)

 1. Commit to brand consistency in content and design

You can’t have a strong brand if your audience never hears from you. You must publish content consistently.

Ever since I started Express Writers in 2011, I committed to publish at least one blog/week. I never dabbled in spending ad money; I never went to events and paid for a booth; I never hosted a show; I even waited to launch books, courses, and a podcast till five years down the road.

For five straight years (and even still to this day since 2011), I focused on one way to build my brand that I could keep up consistently, without fail, every week. This is so vital to focus on, especially if you are new.

Just as important as consistency in content is the consistency of overall design and brand. You also can’t have a strong brand if, well, you don’t have strong branding and a consistent brand presence.

Invest in that website. Have a good, clear logo. Create clear copy on your website, in your social media profile bios. Invest in design, a branding guide, and keeping your colors consistent. These things, while they might feel unimportant, are critical in the long run to a brand that stands out, is recognized, builds fans and an audience base.

Ask yourself: What can you commit to in your brand consistency without fail for the next 24 months?

2. Grow your expertise, and add value to your market with your concepts over time

A true thought leader rarely calls themselves that; instead, they earn that title from others in their industry by adding their own original thoughts to the marketplace that provide instantaneous clarity on pre-existing concepts, topics, pain points, etc.

They’re the ones behind the scenes thinking, while we’re all busy stuck in the monkey work of “what we should or could” be doing every day.

This isn’t something done overnight. Invest in personal growth, and then take the time to let your brain marinate on industry issues. Come up with concepts that will give your audience instant clarity. Your goal is to achieve that “AHA!” moment and reaction from your audience.

I can give you countless examples of how one powerful thought alone presented in content can generate a TON of brand velocity and growth, including that byproduct we all want — backlinks.

In 2007, Merlin Mann identified the concept “inbox zero,” a productivity approach he came up with. This one concept generated over 5,000 backlinks!

Mark Schaefer, for example, published the concept of “content shock,” identifying one big fact — content production will soon overpower content consumption, and online audiences will start to stop reading — which shocked content marketers, earned thousands of comments, and received over 900 backlinks on that one piece of content alone.

Brian Dean published his concept called “the skyscraper technique” back in 2015, identifying the need for marketers to create content pieces that would stand out as essentially the biggest building on the block. (Because that’s the one that’s memorable, not the second, third, or fourth tallest building, to tourists.) On that one piece alone, he earned over 5,000 backlinks.

Back in 2017, after spending six years full-time in content marketing and running my own business, I launched several original concepts. One was the concept of a content house.

content house

In this concept, I brought to life visually the truth of long-term content marketing: a) building content to grow a brand is much like building a house — it takes time and commitment, and, b) no one can take away your content from you if you’re creating it on your own real estate (your house, on your land). My mistake? I published this in a book, so the book didn’t really get backlinks. But, I have since published content pieces on this topic that have had a good deal of shares and mentions.

Ask yourself: What concepts can you come up with that add TONS of value to your industry?

3. Be a guest

Be our guest, be our guest…”

Build your presence by being a guest on as many additional platforms as you can be!

From the beginning, I knew it was of value to be present in other people’s audiences as much as possible. That’s why I researched, found, and pitched guest publications in my industry since the beginning.

I’ve written for Content Marketing Institute, Search Engine Journal, SiteProNews, KissMetrics, QuickSprout, MarketingProfs, MarTech, and many other publications. This has built our name in the industry. Plus, each time I am published my guest author bio is published too, along with a backlink.

Relevancy is important. Make sure the publication’s focus topics coincide with the interests of your ideal buyers or clients.

Just adding one or two publications that you write for per month is a big way to get more links and traffic your way. Make sure you add your website in your author bio!

Be on podcasts, webinars. Offer your time for free and create presentations that give value to that audience. I rarely to never charge when I am guest speaking to another audience. Instead, I give away tons of value, then pitch my book or website/agency services at the end of my talk.

How-to: Google “your industry” + “publications to guest blog for”. You’ll often find lists that you can then tap into. IE: “20 SEO Publications that Accept Guest Author Posts.” Run through that list and pitch, pitch, pitch your best ideas!

Need guided help with 1:1 mentoring? I teach The Expert SEO Content Writer Course and The Content Strategy & Marketing Course, and I serve my students as their mentor in each course. 👩‍🏫 Learn more about both courses.

Why Link Building is a Waste of Time, & What to Focus On Instead (Video)

That wraps up today’s topic.

Remember the three methods we talked about today are long-term.

You aren’t going to hit them all overnight. Be methodological as you go about implementing them, stay focused, and you will win — bigtime!

Stay safe, sane, and well!

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