Search engine optimization has not become any easier with the passing of time.
It is still the tricky game it has always been. Today it’s becoming increasingly complicated by the prospect of having to keep up with Google’s many changes.
They say it’s risky.
However as Warren Buffett puts it aptly, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”
Indeed, SEO is much the same as investing in stocks.
Search Engine Optimization today runs largely on speculation, with many people placing their hopes in the hands of a few professionals that are capable of prognosticating Google updates and changes.
Ever since Google’s Panda and penguin Algorithms came into play, interested parties everywhere have been injecting effort into trying to determine how the rankings of sites are being affected.
The near disastrous effects of Panda and Penguin seem to have wizened up a number of marketers and their SEO efforts.
Whatever alterations keep emerging from Google, the basics of search engine optimization remain largely unchanged. However, the biggest transformation has been a shift in focus towards quality content based strategies.
One need only consider link building, an element of online success whose importance hasn’t been dulled by Google’s many changes.
Does that mean that the world of Link building has remained largely untouched by Google’s many shake ups? Not quite; Link building is still important. However there has been a visible change in the way Google not only defines links but the manner in which link building affects rankings.
Let me try to convey those changes to you in a simple manner.
In the past, we saw that Google didn’t know much about links. It counted every link as an equal. Google didn’t know how much to trust a link.
It also used a mechanism called Page Rank (which could be easily manipulated) to determine if the links were of high quality. Google in the past didn’t even consider the relevancy of links.
In the present scenario, we can see that Google now understands language at a much more deeper level. That was made very clear with the Hummingbird update. With people making their search queries longer with each passing day; it was now imperative that Google brought out changes that understood the context of queries.
As a result of this update alone we can say that anchor text isn’t going to be all that relevant anymore.
However the context of the links and how relevant it is will definitely matter.
So what’s the future of link building?
The idea of authority in SEO is pretty simple.
Websites with the highest influence, quality and credibility tend to rank highest with Google’s algorithms. The concept of authority is of such great importance that companies have tended to use authority as a way to determine the future rank of a given site, based upon present SEO strategies.
And the fact is, in its attempts to avail to its users only the most trustworthy and authoritative content, Google will take authority into consideration when ranking online resources, and admittedly there is a level of subjectivity to the idea of authority.
Whatever the case, the primary driving force behind the surge in popularity of link building was the idea that the greater the number of relevant websites one had links to, the higher the authority they could manifest.
Google has since come to term these approaches to link building as black hat schemes. They were once useful in positively impacting the fortunes of a website.
Link building in this manner will do more harm than good today.
Protip: Building links from Wikipedia
This isn’t something that a lot of people know about.
1.Create a free account on Wikipedia.
2.Go to WikiGrabber. It’s a free site that shows you missing citations or dead links in Wikipedia entries. Let’s say I have a client in the eCommerce industry who’d be very happy if I get him some quality, high authority links.
I head to WikiGrabber and key in “ecommerce”. In return I get a list of links that need citations or are dead.
See the example below:
Here’s an example link where Wikipedia is requesting me to add links to the article.
Could anything be better than this? Relevant links from a domain that Google loves.
3. Next, write a piece of content yourself or hire someone else to create content that can be used as a citation. To get a feel of what this requires check out other cited articles within the Wikipedia entry. Once the content is done, proceed to publishing it on your website.
4. Log in to your Wikipedia account and head over to the article that needs citation.
Click on the edit link at the top and include a link to the article published on your own site as the citation.
5.Save your edits and now you have a link from Wikipedia. (If it gets accepted by the Wikipedia editing team.
There is a reason more webmasters are showing less interest in building links and injecting more effort into earning them. These modern link builders understand the key to appeasing Google.
The best links must appear to be as natural as possible and should emerge from as diverse a range of sources as possible, preferably sources boasting a high level of authority.
Admittedly though, assuming that even these groups of link builders have figured out the secret to circumventing Google complexities would be erroneous, not with Google taking drastic steps to eliminate the efficacy of many common link building strategies.
Instead you can focus on creating content and links will appear automatically.
A little while back, Honda published a video called the Other Side.
What differentiates this video from other videos is that this one plays a dual story. Run the video in normal mode and you get to watch the story of a parent driving his kids to a party.
Now click the R button and hold on it and the visual scenery changes to nighttime, with the same loving parent now assisting a heist.
Experiments of such nature are link baits.
Just look at the number of mentions the story is gathering. It isn’t limited to news stories alone. Fans are generating a ton of user-generated content that helps the brand.
It’s time you get creative in link building.
Another example of a very good link bait is that of Brian Dean’s blog post that listed out the 200 ranking factors that Google uses to rank a site. Many of the points are speculative but that didn’t stop the post from gaining 342 root domain links.
Not bad for a speculative post eh?
The recent Panda patent mentioned implied links. What this means is that Google is differentiating between what it identifies as “conventional links” termed as express links and “implied links.”(Also See What Google Panda 4.1 is?)
Implied links are brand mentions without an actual link to it. Say for example, I write about an article on link building and mention “Moz” without linking to it. That’s an implied link. These kind of links are now being valued by Google.
The relevance of implied links with Google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates cannot be underestimated, with many webmasters approaching the idea of implied links as another manifestation of Google’s advance in their ability to measure authority.
Again, what this implies is attempts at making your brand more popular would definitely go a long way in establishing your online authority. As it is, you no longer need an explicit link to rank.(Also see the Top Reason why you need to check your site’s links)
Is Guest blogging dead?
Guest blogging isn’t dead yet. Not because there are scores of blog posts popping up every day that say so.
Guest blogging need not be seen solely as a means to build links but as an avenue to let more people know about your business site.
It’s often touted as an effective means of building up one’s mentions; admittedly many an individual is tempted to simply purchase brand mentions. However this is often frowned upon and cast within similar circles as the purchase of external links.
A Properly executed content marketing guarantees the natural acquisition of both express links and mentions. Of course, anyone intent upon developing long term value online will have to rely upon a competent and comprehensive content strategy, one that seeks to meet a specific and neglected need.
Anyone suggesting that link building is dead has most likely been defeated by Google’s recent changes. But the search engine has done little to discourage the SEO strategy and instead simply encourages more responsible link building activities, focused upon ethical strategies and an intention to earn rather than coerce or even fake mentions.
The simple truth is this:
If you give users what they crave, Google will pay close attention to your resource. Your resource becomes quality content. Something that people would love to link to.
The worst thing that you can do to your business is fake ignorance. Google is changing and they aren’t taking baby steps this time. User behaviors and expectations are changing along with it. People no longer have the patience to wait 10 seconds for a site to load or jump from site to site for information.
As such your approach to content and presentation should evolve to keep up with the times.