The Death of Backlinks

Google’s Panda killed the value of backlinks, which is very unfortunate as a great deal of content. While it may be for the best overall, hopefully, here are some of the ways lowering the value of backlinks has hurt online content and communities.

WordPress Themes

One of the great things about the previous value of backlinks was that it gave people an incentive to create free WordPress themes in exchange for a backlink at the bottom of the page. The idea with this was that the person creating the theme gets backlinks from every website that uses the theme and WordPress site owners get a basically free, quality theme. It was a good system and resulted in some great free themes. That is essentially dead now that backlinks do not hold value and so the incentive to create themes in exchange for links is gone. Quite a sad loss.

Content Aggregators

Content Aggregators are somewhat exploitative in that they provide bits and pieces of other people’s content while earning the advertising revenue from it. However, previously they at least provided a useful backlink. Now, the quality of that backlink counts for a lot so having someone aggregate content can hurt the content creator. This means that sites that allow content submission in exchange for a backlink, even when that content is not full but basically teaser content, will die down. Unfortunately, sites that are less charitable such as Rotten Tomatoes will continue to thrive.

Competition With Major Sites

One of the big issues dealing with major sites like Wikipedia or even Cracked is that there content is automatically listed much higher in search engines than content from smaller sites. As a result, rather than getting a chance to compete the content is never even given a chance to gain an audience.

If you are Proud of Content, You’ll Backlink To It

If you are willing to build high quality content then it probably follows that you are also willing to get a few backlinks leading to it. People who are proud of something show it off and promote it. As such, it may not have been such a bad thing that backlinking resulted in content being linked higher, provided the method of backlinking is accessible to everyone. The idea here is that people unwilling to even acquire a few manually created backlinks probably are not putting as much effort into the article. Now, ideally, the best original content should get the highest rankings in search engines whether it is backlinked or not, but the change caused by Google Panda has also resulted in people with good backlink networks that can seem high quality getting an even bigger boost. Annoying.

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