By John Eberhard
SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization, which is the activity of getting a web page or site to rank as highly as possible in search engines for a given keyword or group of keywords. The goal of SEO is increased traffic to a website from search engines.
My R&D Project
In the fall of 2015 I began the most intensive research project that I have ever done, to find out the best avenues for conducting SEO into 2016 and beyond. The reason I did this was because my priority as an SEO consultant, and really with everything I do in Internet marketing, has always been to deliver the best possible results to clients.
So What CAN You Do for Links?
That is the question that has occupied my intense research project, because telling people what they can’t do doesn’t solve the problem of getting improved rankings and driving people to your web site.
So here is what I discovered in terms of what link building you actually CAN do today and what will get the best results:
- Writing a press release about your business, and posting it to multiple free online PR sites, and at least one paid online PR site. The release should have links to your website within it. These online PR sites usually rank well themselves, so a link there counts for something. The paid online PR sites will usually get your release into multiple sites for newspapers and magazines. I have seen no evidence that these links are negative in any way, or that they don’t work anymore.
- Creating online business listings. You can create listings for your business on multiple business listing web sites, such as Google My Business, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Merchant Circle, Manta, Insider Pages, Hotfrog, etc. There is a virtually unlimited supply of these sites.
- Links to your site on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter now count as links to your site.
- Contacting the owners of blogs and asking to write a guest post for their blog, with a link back to your site, is good. Then you have to write unique content for that blog only. And obviously it has to be a topic you are actually an expert in. The challenge here is that there is a saturation aspect to this activity as well, as a lot of people are trying to do this, and so blog owners are getting a lot of these requests.
- Post your articles, releases or other content to your blog or blogs.
What You Shouldn’t Do
- I hate to say it after years of doing it, but I don’t recommend posting articles to article directories any more. I don’t think that it is destructive, but I think Google has eliminated any benefit from it.
- Posting on a large blog network, either one that you created or one that belongs to someone else, is a no-no.
- Asking another website owner to link to you if you link to him, called reciprocal linking, was downgraded in value by Google several years ago.
- Linking to low-value directories is not advisable.
- Auto-posting comments on blogs using software. If you’re doing this, please just stop.
- Most sources say you shouldn’t pay someone to link to your site.
Rules of Thumb:
Here are some rules of thumb relating to links from other sites to yours, and what is good and bad.
- Links from more important, popular, trusted sites give more value than less important, etc., sites.
- Links from sites that are “relevant” to your site, i.e. in the same or a related industry, give more link value.
- Links to your site that are higher up on a page count more than links lower on a page.
- Links in the main text content of a page count more than links in the footer, sidebar, or navigation.
- It’s better to have 10 links to your site from 10 different sites, than 10 links to your site, all from the same site. This means that it is better to find more sites to get links from, than to continually add more links to your site from the same site or set of sites.
- Links in text give more value than links in alt tags (tags connected to images).
One aspect of all this which was sort of a new idea to me was the idea that you want to create “sharable content.” I recently read a great book called “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer.
Schaefer goes over the idea that you want to create content that a lot of people want to share, and he goes over what causes people to share things, which was a real eye opener for me.
What I realized from this book is that getting people to share your content, on social media sites, for instance, is much more important than getting them to like it or comment on it. For one thing, sharing greatly increases the reach in terms of more people seeing it. Plus when someone shares your content on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and your post had a link in it to your site, their share now creates another link to your site.
Another interesting thing I realized from this book is that it is not wrong that you have to create great content, it’s just a lie that that’s all you have to do. Once you have some great content, your job is just starting. You then have to work to get that content shared and distributed.
I will be writing another article on “The Content Code” as it is an amazing book with lots of great advice.
Well this has been an interesting journey that took me into some new vistas, and forced me to re-evaluate some long entrenched ideas. The overall conclusion I came to is that it is still possible to do effective SEO for a website, but the strategies have changed. And it is still possible to build up links to a website, and not live in fear of each Google algorithm change.
And I feel strongly that the journey is not over yet.
I hope this article series was interesting and that you find it useful. Good luck!