If you want to rank high in Google’s search engine and covet the holy grail of a first-place listing, then you will need to follow two parts of search engine optimisation (SEO); onpage and offpage.
Onpage optimisation involves looking at the website itself and how search engine friendly it is. This usually means thinking about the keyword phrases people type into a Google search and getting into your client’s mindset, placing these words strategically into the content and metadata, testing your page speed, making sure it looks good to a user on mobile devices and also making sure the content is readable, includes any related terms (called semantic indexing) and has no technical issues such as broken links, wrongly tagged pages, redirection problems etc.
Once you have fulfilled the above, the next part to look into is building the site’s authority in Google’s eyes and getting them to trust your site is the most authoritative for the phrases you are trying to rank for and this process is called link building or link earning.
A Brief History Of Link Building
Link Building was devised as part of Google’s algorithm when Sergy and Larry (founders of Google) were looking for ways to determine the authority of sites. Based on their university days they found that when they were writing essays or dissertations they would often have to write the source of research and studies they had mentioned. The principle of link building was built the same way. Say site A has a blog about the latest cure for diabetes. Site B a hugely authoritative medical blog and links back to site A mentioning their latest cure and the wonderful research they have been doing. Site B is basically voting for Site A and Site A is gaining trust in the medical world. So basically the more websites that vote for you (link back to your site) the higher up Google you go, or so it was.
Quantity Over Quality
The problem with the SEO world is we are looking to manipulate Google’s algorithm. I don’t care how ethical and white hat you are, this is essentially what you are trying to do. Link building was a numbers game, as long as you could find sites with high page rank (a number between 1-10 that Google gave webmasters as to how authoritative they thought a site was) you could rank a site, regardless of how competitive it was.
This wasn’t sustainable for Google as a business, and so in 2012 Google launched the Penguin update, to catch up out spammy link profiles. This was an automatic update, which meant you had to remove the offending links, whilst uploading a file to Google for links you couldn’t remove called a disavow file, and then wait for the next update. Updates were sporadic with some taking 6-12 months to roll out, a long time to be languishing on page 10 of Google, with no one to complain to. The most recent Google Penguin update has now become part of the core ranking algorithm, which means it runs in real time. Also instead of penalising sites, Google just discounts the links, so a spammy link has zero benefit but no negative repercussions as such.
What Links To Build in 2018
So what is acceptable in 2018. This is where the industry changed to link building to a link earning exercise. No longer is it acceptable to build 300 links per month with your main keyword as the anchor text (the text inside a link) but instead, you would normally either link out via your URL, company name or leave it to a third party to decide.
Here are four strategies we like to use
Content Marketing for SEO means utilising your own site to provide meaningful content that people want to engage with and link back to. For instance, you may have a study or data about your niche with a good article with solid evidence behind it. You may have an interactive infographic which shows the latest unemployment figures in the UK, or you may do an interview with leading experts, who will be compelled to link to your article to help their own visibility.
According to Alex from web marketing agency WeAreAMA Said “The key to good content marketing is amplification. Just producing the content and hoping people link back to it, isn’t going to help, you need to seek out the influencers in your niche and approach them to review your content.” Content marketing is a numbers game, you need enough contacts to go after to make it worthwhile putting in the man-hours to write exceptional content.
Not spammy directories built for SEO purpose but niche relevant or authoritative directories. For instance, for a directional drilling client, you may want to approach infrastructure directories such as railways or waterways. Look for niche country specific directories too.
Again, try and avoid PBN (private blog networks) but look for blogs that are attached to existing sites. Whilst guest posting got a rough ride in 2014, content is still king and links within content work. Make sure you follow any guest post guidelines and the article is grammatically correct. To find guest blog opportunities type in a phrase into a google search following by “write for us” or “guest post”;
Broken Link Building
The web is a wealth of information and people love to share their favourite sites or links. Niches such as woodworking or hobby sites are great for this tactic. Obviously just emailing these sites and asking for a link probably won’t reap much success, so instead, we use a strategy called broken link building. Find the page you want a link from and download into your browser an extension or plugin that can check for broken links, I recommend using Google Chrome and check my links. Press the button and any broken links will be pointed out in red. Gather a few of these, email the webmaster and advise them of the broken links and ask (don’t beg or demand) them if they would consider your site a suitable alternative.
SEO is an ever evolving game. In summary, when link building, one simple question to ask yourself is if Google didn’t exist would I build this link? If the answer is no, then it’s probably not a good link building strategy.