3 Tips to Evaluate the Importance of Link Building for Your Brand

While Google continues to emphasize external links don’t matter as much as everyone believes, there are many SEO experts who beg to differ. Here are three tips to help you evaluate the importance of link building for your brand.

Link building has been a hot SEO topic for many years now. While Google continues to emphasize external links don’t matter as much as everyone believes, there are many SEO experts who beg to differ.

Neil Patel reports the link popularity of a specific page makes up about 22% of Google’s ranking algorithm. That’s almost a quarter, which is a huge chunk, in my eyes.

Backlinko did a study and found the average page in position No. 1 on Google search results had 35,000-plus external backlinks.

Of course, this isn’t all you need to know when gauging the importance of link building in 2019. You need to know:

  • which links influence page rank;
  • how much quality matters; and
  • how much power link building really has on your site’s rankings.

Gaining Recognition From Google With PageRank

Links from authoritative pages pass authority to your page. PageRank is what determines how authoritative a page is according to Google. Because sites with high PageRank are already in Google’s good graces, any links to other sites from those high PageRank sites also receive recognition.

It’s a lot like high school. When someone in the popular group accepts a new student, everyone else in the group accepts him. The authoritative page is the popular kid, and your site is the new kid. Google just likes to hang out with the popular kids and decides to grant rankings to those who are accepted by the cool, popular sites.

The following sums up the importance of having quality backlinks. To  increase your site’s PageRank (authority), you must get sites with high PageRank to link to you. Google trusts sites with high PageRank and, in turn, they will trust you when they link to you.

This trust is what leads Google to rank your site higher for keyword phrases your targeted audience uses in search. As your backlink profile grows with more authoritative links to your site, the more trust Google has for your site, which then leads to higher rankings for more keyword phrases.

The Downfall of the Backlink Hustle

People went crazy over getting backlinks when they found out it had an effect on their site’s rankings. They were asking any and every site to link back to them. Some of them even paid website owners for links, or exchanged links with them.

Paying for links and exchanging links worked for a while, but eventually Google caught on. Google tweaked its algorithm and devalued these types of self-created links.

Introducing … The Penguin Update

It all started when the Penguin update waddled itself into our life. Our SEO life, that is.

When the Penguin update was released, SEOs looked intensely at what happened to their rankings. After Google explained some of the reasoning behind the update, it was clear what made some sites increase in rankings and others plummet: backlinks.

Sites that had high-quality external links saw ranking increases, while those that had low-quality, spammy links or not many backlinks, lost their ranking positions.

But Do Links Still Matter?

The short answer is “yes.”  Links are still important in 2019.

In fact, nothing has really changed over the years except that Google does a better job at weeding out the websites that don’t really belong on the first page of the search results.  As long as you focus on high-quality, relevant links and steer clear of shortcuts, like paid links or spammy links, then you’ll stay in Google’s good graces.

Conclusion

Link building is important, as long as you’re collecting quality backlinks. Publish top-notch content, share it with your industry, and see if others find enough value in it to share a link to it on their sites. As you publish more content and get the recognition from industry leaders, you should see rankings increase little by little. While it may seem like a lot of work, all of the content creation and marketing is worth it when you start to see your site improve (instead of decline) with each algorithm update.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

Link Spam — What’s Old Is New Again

Link spam is like the proverbial crabgrass in the digital lawn. It requires continuous attention to keep it from taking over.

spamLink spam is like the proverbial crabgrass in the digital lawn. It requires continuous attention to keep it from taking over.

Recently, Google noted an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts or syndicated posts. This new outbreak has been particularly virulent among sites publishing articles that are generally written by or in the name of one website, and published on a different one.

This informative blog post set my spidey-sense tingling. Should it be interpreted as more than a bland warning about the evils of link-building? Google usually signals major changes prior to implementation of what would, in this instance, be corrective action. Savvy SEOs know that these bland-seeming alerts should be heeded, for they give just enough time for alert site owners to correct any problems.

Link-Building — An Unusual Approach

In more than 15 years as a full-time SEO, link-building has always been the last effort on my list of must-do’s. Here are some reasons for my somewhat iconoclastic view:

• Links Are an Invitation for Your Visitor to Leave

Most of my clients are in the e-commerce space. Links, even links that open in a new window, still take a valuable visitor away from the site. If the information is essential, it should be on the page or somewhere on the site. Links should be references.

• Links Require Management

Links to and from outside sites can go bad, just like milk or fruit. There are tools available for managing links to make sure that your site does not have a load of dead links, but this just adds yet another line into an already too-long list of site maintenance tasks. For very large sites, this can become a non-trivial task; hence, it is too easy to let hygiene slip by the wayside. Just ask any email marketer about the problems and challenges of list maintenance.

• Good Content Attracts Links

A build-it-and-they-will-come approach has always been my recommendation. Content that is original, useful and highly targeted to your users will attract not only readers/users, but also links. This is completely congruent with Google’s recommendations.

What Are the Bad Links Google Is Targeting?

Google does not discourage linking in articles when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to a cause or company. This type of link can readily grow from quality content. Google is discouraging link-building schemes where the main intent is to build links in a large-scale way back to the author’s site. Google also indicates the traits of links in articles that violate their guidelines. These include:

  • Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles that appear on other sites.
  • Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites.
  • Using or hiring article writers who aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on.
  • Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case, use of rel=”canonical” in addition to rel=”nofollow” is advised).

Google notes that when the search engine detects such spammy links, it may alter its perception of the site and impact its ranking.

In short, punishment in the form of ranking demotion should be expected for those who do not heed this warning and clean up their acts. So, if you use contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts or syndicated posts as part of your marketing, review how you are handling linking. Not sure of the value, but not ready to let them go, just “nofollow” the links.

Consider yourself warned, don’t persist, or you will be downgraded. Maybe not today, but sometime soon.

The Art of Quality Link Building

So much of SEO has changed over the past 20 years. These days, search engine algorithms penalize keyword stuffing and ignore meta keywords, and having a website that displays on mobile devices is arguably more important than desktop performance. As technology evolves, more about SEO will continue to evolve. But the importance of links hasn’t changed.

Link building? What are you, a blacksmith?So much of SEO has changed over the past 20 years. These days, search engine algorithms penalize keyword stuffing and ignore meta keywords, and having a website that displays on mobile devices is arguably more important than desktop performance. As technology evolves, more about SEO will continue to evolve. But the importance of link building hasn’t changed.

While other aspects of SEO either get your website indexed or clarify its relevance, links will determine your website’s reputation and popularity. If your website is linked by trade publications, business partners or scores of customers, then the search engines will view your site in a positive light and increase your rankings. On the other hand, a website with very few inbound links — or, worse, inbound links from spam websites — is more likely to be penalized in favor of more popular competitors.

Remember, a search engine’s worth is its ability to provide users with the content that’s likely to be most relevant to their needs. Trusted, popular websites are most likely to have that content. So if you want to get the most out of SEO, then you’ll need to work on building links.

How Do Search Engines Evaluate Links?

As stated above, not all links are equal. Understanding how search engines evaluate links can help you know which links to pursue. Here are some of the more important link factors:

  • Overall popularity: The most popular websites tend to have the most valuable links. Truly popular websites on regional, state, national or global levels tend to have scores of reputable links and strong social media signals.
  • Topic relevance: Look for links from other businesses, publications and associations that are relevant to your line of work. If you run an auto mechanic business, then you won’t get much value from a link about sporting goods.
  • Spam: The Internet is filled with spam sites that aren’t useful for anyone. Search engine algorithms are continually adjusted to devalue spam links.
  • Relevant anchor text: The text that makes up a contextual hyperlink is referred to as anchor text. If several websites link to a site using the same or similar anchor text, then search engines will be more likely to view the linked site as an authority for that keyword term.

Search engines evaluate all these factors and more when determining link quality. Links from social media are also becoming more important, although SEO experts are divided on exactly how search engines value these links.

How to Get Links

Now that you know what search engines look for, the next step is getting others to link to your site — and this doesn’t need to be a struggle. Here, we’ll review five ways to build a network of reputable links.

  1. Ask Customers and Business Partners
    Your greatest supporters are likely to link to your website if you ask. You can make it easy by giving them badges, logos or icons that link back to your site. Many of your customers won’t have actual websites, but people who have blogs can post about your business and include links (with relevant anchor text for bonus points). You can also ask customers and partners to connect with your business on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.
  2. Start a Blog
    Blogging has several benefits in the world of SEO. At the very least, blogging is an easy way to populate your site with fresh, relevant, local content. Do a good enough job, and customers and business partners will link to your blog and provide you with a wealth of quality links. Don’t limit your blog to writing about what’s happening in your business; write about your industry and your community, or even write seasonal do-it-yourself pieces that appeal to your customers’ needs. Make your blog a valuable resource and others are likely to build your links for you. You can also send your most interesting blog entries to bloggers, trade associations and others who might want to publish your posts with links.
  3. Do Something Special
    Get others to write about your business by doing something special in your community. Host a charitable event, launch a contest or spread the word about an innovative new service, product or technology. Local reporters, bloggers and publicists for political organizations and trade associations are always looking for good stories.
  4. Register With Site Directories
    Take advantage of popular business review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List that allow you to place a link to your website. You should also create a profile in Google My Business. Registering your business with these well-known directories has numerous other SEO benefits in addition to being quick-and-easy links.
  5. Leave Comments
    Commenting on blogs, forums, news articles and other content is a quick way to expand your link network. However, largely as a result of spammers, search engine algorithms have evolved to minimize the value of content links. But while this tactic is less productive than other link-building options, a high volume of content links on quality sites can still positively impact your SEO.

SEO Myths vs. Realities in 2016

Search engine optimization is a never-ending game with constantly changing rules — so much so, that eventually old rules become blurred or obsolete. But old habits are hard to break, and many SEO experts are guilty of pressing forward with less-effective strategies.

Link building? What are you, a blacksmith?Search engine optimization is a never-ending game with constantly changing rules — so much so, that eventually old rules become blurred or obsolete. But old habits are hard to break, and many SEO experts are guilty of pressing forward with less-effective strategies.

It’s understandable, given the monumental shifts taking place in the SEO world. Just a few years ago, few people imagined that mobile websites, social media and smartphone apps would make such a big impact on the SEO landscape. And yet here we are, and these emerging technologies have already changed the game.

Building a good SEO strategy in 2016 means dispelling myths and accepting new realities. The way people interact with the Internet has evolved, and SEO experts who don’t adjust accordingly will eventually be riding the bench.

Myth: Written content is still the most important kind of content.
Reality: Video content has pulled even with text.

If written content is still more important, then it’s hanging on by a fingernail. The truth is that video content may have already pulled even with text content in terms of overall importance to SEO efforts, and it won’t be long until engaging video content dethrones written content. The simple truth is that video content is far more engaging and is more likely to be shared on forums, on websites and in social media. As search engines shift to reflect the kinds of user experiences that people want — and as social media posts become part of Google’s organic search rankings — the importance of quality video content will be undebatable.

Myth: My desktop site is more important than my mobile site.
Reality: Mobile websites are more important than desktop sites in some industries.

Most people now use the Internet more via mobile devices than desktop PCs. In April 2015, Google unleashed an update known by SEO experts as “Mobilegeddon” that gave priority to websites with suitable mobile versions — so we already know this is one of Google’s top priorities. In the past, it was easy to view mobile sites as optional novelties that accompanied desktop sites. That’s no longer the case. The way people interact with websites changes significantly when viewing the Internet through smartphones and tablets. Google is already embracing this reality, and SEO experts must do the same.

Myth: Building inbound links to my website is no longer important.
Reality: Inbound links never went out of style.

It’s easy to think that, with the growing importance of mobile websites and social media, perhaps the tried-and-true practice of link-building is no longer a necessity. Turns out, that couldn’t be more false. While backlinks aren’t as critical now as they were a few years ago, they’re still highly important and will help your site’s SEO ranking. If anything, the popularity of sharable content on social media has allowed opportunistic SEO experts to expand their networks of backlinks even further.

Myth: Social media marketing isn’t relevant to my SEO efforts.
Reality: Social media marketing is not only important, but it’s becoming vital.

This can’t be said enough — social media is dramatically changing people’s relationships with the Internet. An increasing number of people use Facebook and Twitter as their jumping-off points to other types of content. If you impress people on social media with engaging articles, videos or infographics, the result could be scores of new links being pointed back at your website. More links and more traffic means a better SEO ranking.

Also, Google now has a contract with Twitter to display tweets in the search rankings. Google is also indexing Facebook pages — this started last year — and it’s not uncommon for Facebook pages to be returned as search results to people’s queries. Going forward, social media marketing is only going to become more entwined with winning SEO strategies.