5 Link Building Trends to Watch for in 2017

This is the time of year that most webmasters who care about SEO start looking for the latest link and brand building trends to get a jump on before the New Year hits.

What I discovered is that there isn’t a lot of noise as to what to expect in the coming year yet. Maybe there’s still too many people focused on who’s going to buy Twitter?

Regardless, after doing some scouring on the web and asking around, I was able to come up with a few tidbits that might help some of you get an edge on your link building game before 2017 hits.

Link building trends for 2017

1. Epic content will continue its reign at the top of link building methods in 2017

This has to be said, though I’m sure we’re all sick of hearing it by now. Build quality, offer value – blah, blah, blah. If it’s been said once, it’s been repeated a million times.

According to this panel of SEO experts, truly epic content will continue to make a shift toward user intent via headlines, semantic keyword optimization, and what’s delivered in the body of the content, rather than keyword optimization methods of the past.

2. The coming year will see the resurgence of manual link building for those looking to get an edge over the competition

This one’s more of a suggestion, rather than a prediction for the coming year. There are so many advantages to building manual links, including avoiding the dreaded Google sandbox, and the ability to build long term relationships with the sites you so badly want valuable backlinks from.

In fact, several experts in the game suggest that automation of any kind is, in fact, nothing more than a candy-coated form of blackhack SEO. Put the hard work in instead. As Cutts says: “Link building is sweat plus creativity.” Don’t forget the sweat part!

3. Link building will continue to evolve toward the niches rather than the masses

A Search Engine Journal article from early 2016 made this statement loud and clear (source):

“Link building is now about marketing your brand, product, or website to your niche-obsessed audience with the primary goal of building a relationship.”

Now that 2017 is around the corner, it’s become very obvious that brand building to the niche audiences that can make or break a website/brand’s long-term success is definitely what the world of SEO is coming to.

This includes building a social presence and looking for related forums to plug your expertise on. However, old school blogging, vlogging, and ever popular podcasting is really where the meat and potatoes of your link and brand-building strategy should be focused this year.

Look how prolific Timothy Ferriss has become at doing each of those three things – and he’s been doing it forever and a day now! He started out with an as-yet unnofficial niche that was ready to explode (ie., life hacking), by using other people’s expertise (like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Matt Mullenweg), as well as his own acquired knowledge to create amazing creative and unique niche content.

Flash forward to today and that niche content actually appeals to the masses and gives him massive crap-tons of backlinks. Free backlinks that for the most part he never has to do any sort of outreach for.

Link baiting LEGO
photo credit: LEGO

4. Link baiting will be stronger than ever in the coming year

Whoever speculated that using catchy, irresistible headlines to draw customers into your website would die a quick death after a few years truly never contemplated how it would evolve leading into 2017.

Forget about using the VERY common “So-and-so from (Your Town) told their boss to bugger off and die a slow death after playing and winning online slots at XYZ.com.” That’s not SEO link building. That’s a short-lived ploy for even shorter term benefits.

Moz has been preaching the benefits of link baiting and giving praise to those who’ve done it most successfully using legitimate headlines for years, both for dot-orgs and for brands seeking more visitors and links for SEO. Time to get your link bait game on before the competition reads this article!

5. 2017 is still all about the listicles baby!

Maybe some expert has told you that everyone’s into vids and infographics now, and that blog posts just don’t get the link love they used to. It might shock many of you to learn that the mother of all blog-post-types is still the almighty listicle. People eat them up, and they’ll keep doing so as long as you release them.

That’s right, list articles are at the top of the heap, with 74% more links being acquired using lists – compared to 62% being gained from informative infographics. Build your email lists, but don’t forget to build listicles for your blog and guest blogging!

Looking into the future of link building through the lens
photo credit: Patrick Brosset

What do you see happening on the link building front, circa 2017?

Lots of the same old, same old? Or are there big changes you see coming as we get further and further into this, the second decade of the 3rd millennium? Please share your thoughts with us!