A Game of Links: A Strong Online Presence Starts with a Great Strategy
Link building is the backbone of your marketing strategy. Whether it be interlinking between your web pages or authoritative links pointing to your website. Without quality links, it’s hard to build your authority. Yes, Google will tell you link building should not be the focus of your campaign, but Google’s own Matt Cutts, Gary Illyes, and John Mueller have all reaffirmed that links are important ranking signals. That means your SEO marketing efforts should include a killer link building strategy to reap the rewards. building strategy to reap the rewards.
In recent Google news, Penguin 4.0 has just arrived, and it’s updated in real time. As part of Google’s core ranking algorithm, it can either be your best friend or worst enemy. There’s no need to fret if you stick to this formula:
Quality = Relevant + Unique + Compelling
Relevant: Focus on Your Niche
Google has changed the way they rank websites several times already; by now, most SEOs have dealt with sites that jumped high in the ranks and others that plummeted to oblivion. We have survived the many updates of Google because we’ve always known that relevance plays a very important role in all of our marketing activities. This means building links with sites in the same niche as yours.
Remember: Penguin looks at where your links originate. Any plumbing company would have a lot of explaining to do if they have a link to, or from a mattress selling company.
Here are a few tips:
- Do a Google search in your niche to find out which bloggers and influencers are active in that niche
- Identify your online competitors in your niche and study their content and find out where their backlinks are coming from. A good tool for this is https://ahrefs.com/
With Penguin’s latest update, one offending link in one internal page does not lead to the penalty of the entire website. The more granular update may just negatively rank those offending pages, but still, that’s a stain on your record and should be avoided at all times.
Google Says Penguin 4.0 Rollout Now Complete https://t.co/Fy2HSf4Djl #SEO #ContentMarketing
— Jennifer Davidson (@jdavidson788) October 19, 2016
Unique: Stand Out in That Niche
Google wants to give the spotlight to content that helps users find what they need. To do this, Google even developed the Webmaster Guidelines, which detail that sites should offer something unique. The site also expresses its dislike for webspam content. Link farming should be gone—for good—from your list of strategies and any SEO trying to sell this kind of marketing should be shown the door, swiftly. This kind of link building hurts your credibility, especially if the link chain is composed of low-quality websites. Instead of wasting your link juice on these places, find data sources that are legitimate and Google-approved.
Your job now is to look for such data sources. Here are a few ways you get started:
- Get listed as a reference in Wikipedia
- Offer a site audit to a website that mentions your business
- Take part in competitions where your company can win awards and recognitions and possibly high value links as a result
These authority signals work for web crawlers and humans alike: Internet spiders will give you a nod for that link, and people will trust you more if you’re associated with the people or websites that they trust.
Compelling: Offer Value
Do remember that Penguin curbs black hat SEO tactics such as unethical link building and keyword stuffing. What Google wants are quality-driven sites, those that offer value to their target audience. Add a sprinkling of emotion there and you have a winning recipe for a social media post.
As evidenced by the popularity of social media sites, people like to connect with others and share content. Any link building strategy should include the creation and management of engaging and responsive social media sites.
On social media sites, you can go beyond articles. Post an infographic every once in awhile, and create videos that make viewers feel something. Make them feel happy, or tug at their heartstrings to encourage them to share a sad news.
Posts can go viral easily on social media. While the links you get don’t give you direct SEO benefits, they increase visibility and traffic to your site. In the grand scheme of things, they still have an impact on your strategy.
Don’t try to take on all the social media networks at once. Do some research and find out where the majority of your target market is hanging out and start there. You can always grow and expand your social media strategy.
Quality: A Combination of Several Factors
“Focus on your audience instead of how many links you’re building.”
There is no single strategy that guarantees your website can survive any future changes in Google’s core algorithm. But when you focus on several metrics, and really focus on your audience instead of how many links you’re building, you increase your chances. Surround yourself with high-quality links—they act as your friends in the SEO world—and you’re already doing link building right. It’s the alliances formed organically that strengthen your campaign.
When you play the game of links, you float or you sink. There is no middle ground. Keep your record stellar by complying with Google’s guidelines and focusing on quality.