Built Links Versus Earned Links – Why the Difference Could Save Your Business

In the past, I’ve talked at length about the many different “types of links“. One way, reciprocal, networks, nofollow versus dofollow, the list goes on. But in the end, there’s really only one distinction which Google (and consequently YOU ought to) care about. Let’s talk about the difference between built links versus earned links.

Built Links Versus Earned Links

What’s the difference? Well the hint is really in the names themselves, and while you can probably reckon that built links are those which you or someone working on your behalf build for your website, and that earned links are those which are earned from another website, you might not realize the gravity in the difference between the two.built links versus earned links

The Bad Thing About Built Links

Built links are again those which you build or someone builds on your website’s behalf. They used to be the quickest way to see your website jump in the rankings, because search engines saw them as virtual vouches for one website from another.

But with search engines like Google getting smarter by the day, they’re better than ever at sniffing out manufactured links. Not only are these not legitimate votes for good content on your site from another webmaster, it’s seen as you’re plainly trying to game the system and affect the SERPs listings.

You may still have terrific content which is worthy of ranking well and attracting good links on its own, but unless those upvotes in the form of links come from a real person, then Google doesn’t know that your content is worthy of anything. They just know that you’re trying to affect their SERPs for your gain, which is another word for spamming.

Google has taken some pretty strong measures over the last few years to combat and ultimately punish link spammers, including awarding no link juice to those links, giving out derankings or even removing websites from the search engines all together.

Sometimes the webmasters behind those websites receive messages via their search consoles, other times they find out when their organic traffic disappears overnight.

The takeaway is that built links are a thing of the past and even through the most sophisticated link masking techniques, search engines can easily identify when a link is bought or manufactured.

The Great Thing About Earned Links

Google and other search engines still love earned links. They’re still one of the most important ranking factors. Google has even recently come out and explicitly labeled links as being one of the most important Google ranking factors.

When you forget about the technical side of things and just take earned links for what they are, they’re a virtual thumbs up from one person online to another.

Social media has created literal virtual thumbs ups of content, but a link from a relevant, authoritative website in your niche is still second to none among outside ranking factors.

This says to search engines such as Google that your content is worth sharing with an audience of another website in the same niche ideally. Google sees this and says to themselves that if your content is worthy of sharing with that audience via the link, then it’s worthy of ranking in its SERPs.

The larger, more authoritative, and more trafficked the website which is linking to you is, the more valuable that link is and the more juice it will pass on to both specifically the page of yours it’s linking to as well as your website as a whole.


Along with creating great content which earns you links, earned links are the most evergreen active way to see your position in the search engines quickly improve and hang on to its place.

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