By John Eberhard

I recently started doing heavy research on SEO (search engine optimization) again. The SEO landscape seems to change significantly once every 1-2 years, or even more often than that. A couple weeks ago I wrote Part 4, and that continued the saga of this story which began with Parts 1-3 in January 2016.

Parts 1-3 | Part 4

Links and Link Diversity

Every source that I have seen across the web that lists out the various factors that improve your search engine ranking for any given keyword, includes near the top of the list, the number of links to your site coming from other sites. And in the last 2-3 years, the focus has grown to also include the quality of those links.

Google doesn’t want you to do anything proactively to create links to your website. They have been preaching that same sermon for 4-5 years now, that you should just put up good quality content, and people will naturally link to it.

I have written numerous times before about how this Google sermon is flawed. They tell you this because it is better for them. If you proactively create links to your website, it makes the job harder for them. But if you believe them and just put up quality content, but don’t do anything else to promote that content or create links to it, for most small to medium sized businesses, exactly nothing will happen. No one will link to it and it won’t improve your rankings.

There is also the fact that for most topics, there is a saturation point that is happening now, because there is so much content on the web, it is getting harder and harder to be noticed.

And we have the fact that for certain types of businesses, what are they going to write about that will get people to link to them? Let’s say a plumber writes articles about plumbing? Who is going to care and who is going to link to them?

Anyway, despite the controversy on link building, most SEO consultants would agree that you have to do something to build up links.

One factor that I have discovered to be extremely important in link building is a concept called “link diversity.” What this means is that Google or other search engines, when someone does a search for a specific business, likes to display a variety of different types of listings related to that business.

What do I mean by different types of listings? This is a very important question. It means that there are different types of things Google or other search engines can display, and they don’t want to give you several pages where all the listings are the same type of thing. Let’s look at some of the types of listings Google could display:

  1. The business’s primary website.
  2. Microsites. These are sites that a business will put up, that are related to one aspect of their business, or perhaps one of their locations if they have multiple locations. Microsites are usually done for SEO purposes.
  3. Press releases. There are numerous online press release sites and if you post releases on these sites, your release should have a link back to your primary website.
  4. Business listings sites, such as Google My Business, MerchantCircle.com, Manta.com, Yelp.com, Hotfrog.com, InsiderPages.com, etc.
  5. Social media sites. This is where you have listings for your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
  6. Newspaper and magazine sites. This is different from press release sites, which will usually post your release in full without much or any editing. An actual newspaper or magazine will have reporters that could write an article about your company. If they do these will rank very well and the listing will usually stay around forever.
  7. Listings on professional membership organization sites.
  8. Review sites, where customer/clients can write reviews on their experience with a company.
  9. Interview sites. This is a relatively new category of site where the whole purpose is to interview company owners and executives.
  10. Employee review sites. These are sites where employees or past employees can write reviews on their employment experience. Unfortunately these sites mostly contain reviews where past employees complain.
  11. Videos from YouTube or other video sharing sites.

So link diversity means that if a business has 55 press releases that have been posted online, Google will not display all 55 in the first two pages of results. They will display perhaps 2 or 3 in the top two pages of results. They will show perhaps 4-5 of your primary social media listings on the first two pages, but not more than that. And if you have 25 microsites, they will not all appear in the first two pages of results. They will show 2-3.

Now bear in mind that if you have 55 press releases that have been posted online, and 10 social media accounts, and 25 microsites, those will count as links to your site.

But with link diversity, we are talking about what Google will show near the top of the listings, say in the top two pages. And their algorithm somehow categorizes the different types of listings, and dictates that they display a variety of different types of listings, not all or mostly one type.

So this concept becomes very important in a reputation management situation, where a company is trying to move one or several negative listings about them, down in the rankings, or at least off of page one. It tells you that you need a multi-pronged program of creating links to your site. You can’t just do one thing because that won’t add enough positive stuff on page one to bump those negative listings off. You might see a lot of those links down on pages 4-8, but that won’t help you with page one. So a multi-pronged approach is the answer to link diversity.