Link Building vs. Link Earning: Understanding the Key Differences

By  //  June 17, 2023

In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), links play a crucial role in determining how visible your website is to users.

The more high-quality links pointing to your site, the higher your chances of ranking well on search engine result pages (SERPs). To achieve this, marketers and SEO professionals use two primary strategies: link building and link earning. 

While both methods aim to improve your website’s online presence, they differ significantly in their approach and execution. In this article, we’ll delve into the key differences between link building and link earning. We’ll also discuss when you should order link-building services from an agency like and when link earning might be more appropriate for boosting your website’s visibility.

Link Building: A Proactive Approach to Acquiring Links

Link building is the process of actively acquiring links from other websites to your own. It involves reaching out to webmasters, creating valuable content that others will want to link to, and using various tactics to encourage the inclusion of your link on their sites. Some common techniques include:

  • Guest posting: Writing articles for other websites in exchange for a backlink to your site.
  • Resource link building: Creating high-quality, informative content that serves as a valuable resource, enticing others to link to it.
  • Broken link building: Identifying broken links on other websites and offering your content as a replacement to the webmaster.
  • Skyscraper technique: Research top-performing content in your niche, create an even better version, and then reach out to websites linking to the original piece to suggest they link to your improved version instead.

While link building can be an effective way to improve your website’s visibility, it requires significant time and effort. Additionally, some tactics may be considered spammy or manipulative by search engines, potentially resulting in penalties or lower rankings. As such, it’s essential to focus on ethical, white-hat practices that prioritize quality over quantity.

Link Earning: A Natural Way to Attract Links

In contrast to link building, link earning is the process of attracting links naturally, without actively seeking them. This approach relies on creating high-quality, valuable, and shareable content that others will want to link to on their own accord. The idea is that if you consistently produce exceptional content, other websites will recognize its value and choose to reference it, boosting your site’s visibility in the process.

Some tactics for encouraging link earning include:

  • Creating evergreen content: Producing timeless, informative content that remains relevant and valuable for an extended period.
  • Crafting compelling visuals: Designing eye-catching infographics, images, or videos that are easily shareable.
  • Developing in-depth research or case studies: Conducting original research or presenting unique insights that others in your industry will find valuable.
  • Building a strong brand: Establishing a reputable, trustworthy brand that people are more inclined to reference and recommend.

Earning links is generally considered a more sustainable, long-term strategy than building them, as it focuses on providing value to users and fostering organic growth. However, it can take time for your content to gain traction and attract links, meaning it may not provide immediate results.

When to Use Link Building vs. Link Earning

Both link building and earning have their advantages and drawbacks, and the most effective approach for your website will depend on your specific goals and circumstances. Here are some factors to consider when choosing between the two strategies:

  1. Timeframe: If you’re looking for quick results, link building may be the better option, as it allows you to proactively pursue links and see immediate progress. However, if you’re focused on long-term growth and sustainability, earning is likely a more suitable choice.
  2. Resources: Link building typically requires a significant investment of time and effort in outreach, content creation, and relationship building. If you have limited resources or prefer to focus your energy on other aspects of SEO, earning links may be a more efficient approach.
  3. Risk tolerance: While both strategies can be executed ethically, building links carries a higher risk of penalties if done improperly. If you’re concerned about the potential negative impacts of these tactics, link earning may be a safer bet.
  4. Industry and competition: In highly competitive industries, link-building can help you stand out and gain an edge over your rivals. However, in less competitive niches, focusing on creating exceptional content and naturally earning backlinks may be sufficient to achieve strong rankings.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

As you implement your strategies, be mindful of potential pitfalls that can hinder your progress or result in penalties. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Focusing solely on quantity: While having a large number of backlinks can be beneficial, their quality is far more important. Prioritize acquiring high-quality, relevant links from reputable sources over simply amassing a large volume of low-quality backlinks.
  • Ignoring user experience: Your primary objective should always be to provide value to users, not just to attract backlinks. Ensure that your content is engaging, informative, and user-friendly to encourage organic sharing and linking.
  • Over-optimizing anchor text: Using too many exact-match keywords in your anchor text can appear manipulative and may result in penalties. Instead, use a mix of branded, natural, and keyword-rich anchor text to create a more balanced and diversified backlink profile.
  • Relying on outdated or spammy tactics: Search engines are continuously evolving and refining their algorithms to penalize manipulative SEO practices. Avoid using outdated or spammy tactics such as link exchanges, paid backlinks, or excessive blog commenting, as these can harm your website’s visibility and reputation.


In conclusion, both link building and earning play a crucial role in enhancing your website’s search engine visibility and overall online presence. Ultimately, the most effective strategy for boosting your website’s visibility will often involve a combination of both tactics. 

By understanding the key differences between these strategies and adopting a balanced, comprehensive approach that incorporates elements of each, you can achieve both short-term gains and long-term growth. Remember to prioritize quality over quantity, focus on providing value to users, and continuously monitor and refine your efforts to stay ahead in the ever-changing world of SEO.