I'm often asked how website owners can get their site listed at the top of the Google search results. Sometimes they seem obsessed with optimizing their site for particular keywords. Other times they are frustrated that they don’t drive enough traffic to their website. In either case, it’s clear that there’s only so much that a marketer can do on their own site, the on-page SEO, to optimize their pages.
The bigger factor that influences a top Google listing is what other websites think of your site. Google perceives the off-page SE0, such as links back to your website from other relevant websites and social networks, as giving your site more authority. More backlinks from other authoritative sites gives your site an extra SEO boost.
As a result, search engine marketers have discovered ways to generate more links back to their website content. In a previous post we discussed a few of the wrong ways to build backlinks, such as posting in directories, paying for links and article spinning.
There are signs that these types of low-quality link building tactics will remain a short-term strategy. Search engines don’t like to list websites that take actions purely for the purpose of ranking and not to benefit the user’s experience.
The goal of search engines has always been to deliver a list of the most relevant websites for a person’s search query. Over time, search engine algorithms have become increasingly complex to fight what search engines view as spammy tactics that try to game their system.
Google’s Search Algorithm
There have been advances to search engine algorithms that specifically target websites involved in these low-quality link building strategies. Google has launched two major algorithmic changes over the past few years.
Panda was designed to target low-quality sites, such as article marketing sites. This update was significant because it affected approximately 12% of all search results and shifted the viability of low-quality content sites that had depended on these link building tactics as their business model.
Penguin targeted over-optimized websites, such those that had too much keyword-based anchor text, especially from low-quality sites. It also further targeted sites involved in link building schemes.
Google’s latest algorithm change, called “Hummingbird,” greatly improves “conversational search.” In particular, Google says that Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the meaning of the query is taken into account, rather than particular keywords. The goal is for Google to do a better job of matching its search results to the intent of the user’s query, instead of simply returning pages that match a few words.
These major algorithmic changes force sites to focus on organic methods for garnering links.
The Right Way to Build Links
Modern link building focuses on high-quality, original content that provides value to users and incorporates an involved audience.
As a result, inbound marketing techniques are well suited to this new SEO world, since frequent content creation provide loads of topic-rich content that answers the questions people have as they do their research using a search engine.
High-quality, unique, inbound marketing content on a website that builds links can take many forms, such as:
Write appealing content on your company blog. Thought leadership content, such as "how to," "opinion" articles and case studies, can inspire topics that other people will WANT to link to.
Powerful, unique, informative, and even comical, images lead people to link to your website. This includes video content as well!
Building anticipation around the launch of a new product inspires people to talk about your business, which can lead to links to your site.
Creating valuable content for other websites provides an easy way to link back to your business. Be sure to provide the guest site with beneficial content, and don’t smother the entire post in links.
Link building can also come from building a targeted and involved social community. The more followers a brand has on their social networks, and the more passionate those fans are, the more likely their webpages will be read, shared, and linked to.
Although link building using inbound marketing methods isn’t fast or easy, the slow and steady approach of creating regular content is virtually future-proof. After all, the authoritative, well-managed websites are exactly the type of sites that search engines want to rank highly in their search results.
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