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In a recent Webmaster Office Hours Hangout, Google’s John Mueller was asked about links from free posting sites. The technique of getting links from sites like Tumblr, classified sites, linking to your own profile in Alexa and other places that give links from profiles is called Web 2.0 Link Building.

Mueller didn’t specifically say the phrase Web 2.0 Link Building but the question and answers were specifically about the Web 2.0 link strategy.

Web 2.0 Link Building

Web 2.0 link building is a form of link building where you sign up at sites that are typically but not limited to social micro-blogging sites. After sign up you are granted a subdomain or a web space where you can blog and publish links to yourself.

This form of link building isn’t limited to blogs, it also includes obtaining links from author, user and website profiles on other sites.

Examples of sites that have been abused in Web 2.0 link building are:

  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Alexa
  • Slideshare
  • Medium
  • Quora

An example of how in the past some have obtained a free link on someplace like Tumblr is to sign up, get a subdomain of Tumblr and then create blog posts with links back to the spammer’s website.

Spammers Say Web 2.0 Links Work

There are many low quality link builders who benefit from selling Web 2.0 links. Those spammers will predictably argue that Web 2.0 links still work and do it loudly.

But one has to understand that there is no spam technique on earth that lacks defenders in the form of spammers who profit from those techniques.

How Effective are Web 2.0 Links?

Those kinds of links are the easiest kind to spot and because of that they can be regarded as worthless.

The strategy itself is so simple to plan that a third grader with a juice box and ten minutes to spare could have created it.  Anyone who believes that a strategy so staggeringly simple can be difficult for Google to defeat is deluding themselves or their customers.

The best are editorially given links that someone chose to give because of the content. If editorially given links are the gold standard of links, then Web 2.0 links can be considered the pocket lint standard, they are that bad.

The person asking the question asked how effective those kinds of links are:

How effective is old off page SEO like backlinks creation? Many agencies spend lots of time doing old off page activities such as image sharing with links, article submission on sites like Tumblr, classified sites and other free posting sites where people hardly read any of the posts but those platforms for dropping links with some text basically majority of their site has poor quality posts.

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller gave a straightforward and unambiguous answer:

So off hand, all of those examples that you mentioned are really terrible ways of promoting your website.

So that’s something where if you hire an agency and they go off and post links on Tumblr, on classified sites and free posting sites and they claim this is going to help your website then I would move to some other agency.

So just to be really clear like this kind of activity has zero value for SEO.

It’s not something where you’re promoting your website in any way but rather essentially they’re spamming the web.

So that’s something I would strongly discourage anyone from doing.

Quality Content and Outreach/Publicity for Links

Mueller then reaffirmed the strategy of building relevant content and telling others about it:

On the other hand, creating really fantastic content and then reaching out to perhaps other sites who want to talk about that content, that’s like a totally different story.

So it’s not the case that I would say any work that you do that results in getting a link is a bad thing. But rather you should be focusing on things where you end up getting natural links because of the value of your content that you’re providing and not focusing on dropping links into random places anywhere that you can drop a link randomly.

That kind of link building where a person has to think on a level that’s higher than a third grader (or a juice box) is what it takes to successfully rank relevant content. It’s a seemingly simple strategy but there is a world of nuance that goes into making that kind of link building successful.

Mueller then doubled down on criticizing Web 2.0 style spam:

That’s not going to help your website, that’s just going to considered as spam so that’s a really bad idea.

So that’s kind of link I can’t say in any amount of working on a website to improve the links that you would get is bad. But rather that you should definitely not be doing this kind of spam.

And if an agency is doing this kind of spam for you I would switch to a different agency.

High Quality Link Building Strategies

If you are interested in learning the nuances of link building strategies then you should take a look at a compilation of link building articles I wrote in 2019.

I share many tips from my own link building strategies developed over almost twenty years of search marketing.

A Year of Link Building Strategies

Watch Google’s Webmaster Hangout here: