Despite a number of recent changes, Google’s search algorithm still relies heavily on links when determining the quality of a web-page. If you want to understand why links still have so much influence, you need to learn more about how the Internet worked before the online search industry became dominated by Google.
In the earliest days of the Internet, online search was primarily dominated by AltaVista and Yahoo. The formula used by these companies when listing websites relied entirely on the content of the sites themselves.
All of that changed when Google came onto the scene. Google determined the order of their search results based on a figure known as Page-rank. This number not only took into account the content of the website but also the number of incoming links pointing at that site.
Not much has changed since that time. Evaluating incoming links is still an excellent way to evaluate the overall quality of a website. That is one of the primary reasons why Google still relies on backlinks when ranking sites.
What has changed, however, is how Google goes about evaluating those links. Instead of just looking at the number of links pointing at a website, they now look at the quality of the links themselves.
As a website owner or webmaster, it isn’t always easy to know what qualifies as a high-quality link. This guide should help clear up any confusion that you have by helping you identify high-quality links and teaching you how to build them to your website.
Google’s Penguin Update Led To Major Changes In The Field Of SEO
Up until the first part of 2012, getting a website to rank well was just a matter of getting as many incoming links as possible. By obtaining a variety of incoming links from different sources, a first-page ranking was relatively easy to achieve. Unfortunately, those days are now gone. It was in April of that year that Google introduced their Penguin update, which completely changed the way that the search algorithm evaluates links.
The term link refers to clickable words or images that direct visitors from one site to another. They form a connection between the page where the link is published and the page where it is pointing. In the field of SEO, the common practice is only to look at the quality of the site where the link is published. The LRT software takes a different approach, evaluating both the source of the link and the page that it is targeting. It uses this information to determine how risky or how valuable incoming links are.
The anchor text that you choose for both internal and external links can have an impact on your website’s ranking. Anchor text refers to the clickable words that you use to create the link. They are the words that visitors read and click on when visiting your site.
Not long ago, the most common practice when building links was to use whatever keywords you wanted your site to rank for as the anchor text for the link. The easiest way to understand this is by looking at an example. Imagine that a website was trying to rank for the keyword phrase “e-commerce web design”. The goal of the person optimizing the site would be to get as many links pointing back to the site that included the exact text that they were trying to rank for – in this case, “e-commerce web design”. Unfortunately, website owners abused this technique, often causing low-quality pages to rise to the top of the search engine listings. In order to provide their users with high-quality results that were on topic, Google changed the way that they evaluate link quality in April 2012.
Gaining Traffic Through Newsjacking
One practice that you may not be familiar with is newsjacking. In essence, this technique involves creating content that is based around the latest breaking news. When done correctly, it can help you get links from well-respected online publications.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to using this technique, as well. For one thing, the news cycle shifts quickly. Today’s major headlines quickly become forgotten as they are replaced by tomorrow’s news. If you want people to notice your content, you need to act as quickly as possible while major headlines are still relevant.
Build High-Quality Content Based On Independent Research
Conducting your own research and using that research to build high-quality content is a highly effective way to build links. In fact, the SEO professionals that we interviewed said that this technique is effective more than two-thirds of the time that it is used. With such a high success rate, it is easily one of the most effective link-building strategies.
The value of high-quality content is undeniable. If you can create research-based content for your sites that is not published elsewhere or that takes an innovative approach to a common problem within your industry, generating links back to your site is easy. Every time someone references your content, they will link back to your page, creating a high-quality backlink.
This type of content is something that I like to refer to as a cornerstone asset. What I mean by that is that you can use it to create a wide range of other content for your site, ranging from related posts on your blog to infographics.
Here are some tips on how to take advantage of this technique:
Choose your topic wisely, looking for a subject that your audience is interested in and that they would find beneficial. In my case, my audience is quite passionate about link building. Depending on the industry you are in, however, you could focus on other topics such as marketing techniques or industry trends.
After deciding on a topic, start putting together in-depth research that includes solid facts and figures. Put this information together into a detailed report that directly addresses the topic that you are writing about. Do your best to make your content as unique as possible, including as many hard facts and figures as you can.
Once it is done, publish it. Consider adding infographics, charts, or other visual elements to your content, as well, to make it more interesting to read and easier to share. Once it is published, begin letting people know about it by sharing it with others.
You can then generate a variety of other pieces of content that center around this topic. For instance, you could write blog posts related to your research, record a podcast that discusses your findings, or tweet statistics to your followers. In essence, the idea is to leverage your research as much as possible to create a large volume of content.
As long as you choose a topic that your audience is interested in, you should quickly start getting backlinks as people begin sharing your writing and research with their own followers. The best part is, these links typically come from high-quality sources, helping to give your site a major boost in the search engines.
Using Mentions As A Link-Building Tool
If your company is relatively well known, you can probably find people discussing it online. Tracking any mentions of your company on the Internet is not only a good way to find out what your customers and clients are thinking but it also provides a unique opportunity for you to build links.
This is one of the most successful link-building techniques that we use, with an average conversion rate of as much as 25%.
One of the reasons why this technique is so successful is because the sites that we are reaching out to have already mentioned our brand or our client’s brand in their content. As a result, they already view the brand favorably and understand that it provides value. Our only job is to get them to add a link to the content that is already on their site.
Obviously, you should focus on mentions of your specific brand name. Apart from that, however, there are other ways that your company can be mentioned online. These types of mentions also provide an opportunity to build links. Here are some of the types of mentions that you should watch for:
* The names of business owners, corporate executives, or anyone else who is closely associated with the company
* Upcoming events sponsored by the company
* Independent documents or research published by the company
* Brand names that are no longer used by the company
* Specific names of products or services provided by the company
* References to the company’s mascot
In essence, you can try to get a mention link anytime your company is talked about online. To find mentions, all you have to do is use a search engine to search for relevant terms. You can then contact the websites where information about your brand is published to request links to your site.
Keep in mind, however, that these types of links will only exist if people are actually talking about your brand. As long as your company is well-established and has a relatively strong industry reputation, you should be able to find people mentioning your company on the Internet, creating a variety of potential links.
The Value Of Link Building
Building incoming links may seem like a lot of work. While it does take some effort, that effort is generally worthwhile. It goes without saying that you should publish high-quality content. By doing so, people will naturally link to your site. To really take things to the next level, however, you also need to make an effort to request links from other sites using some of the mentions discussed above.
In terms of SEO, links create relationships between your company and other companies or influencers in your industry. You can think of it like networking. In this case, however, instead of personal networking, you are networking with other companies online to give your site a boost in the search engines.
Avoid automating your link-building process. Instead, take an active approach to building links, seeking out high-quality links from sites that you would be proud to be associated with.
Using Question-And-Answer Sites To Build Links
Sites where people can ask questions and receive answers provide an excellent link-building opportunity.
Every day, people from all across the world visit sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora to get answers to their questions. Providing them with high-quality, relevant information is a great way to get links back to your site.
Be Willing To Give In Order To Receive
One way to get influential people in your industry to notice your business and to link back to your site is by featuring them in your content. Like you, they are always on the lookout for ways to get people to link to their content or to mention them online. You can use any of the following tactics to connect with other major influencers in your industry:
* Interview them and publish the interview on your website
* Put together a panel of experts to feature for your users
* Include a relevant quote from them in your content with a link to their website
* Create a top-ten list that includes the name of the influencer
Typically, people will be more than happy to link to this type of content because it showcases them in the best possible light.