Every digital marketing agency’s SEO tactic has been changing exponentially since the industry came about, mostly because Google and other search engines have kept it evolving to keep providing results on content that is relevant, of a high quality, and add an overall value for the end user, that is to say whoever you are trying to direct to your website to, your target audience.
But through all the changes, the importance of backlinks have entrenched themselves deeper into SEO strategies, so much so that any mistakes made with them can have utterly devastating results for the overall rating of the sites concerned.
So if your traffic has been struggling to reach your target mark lately, you might want to take advantage of the internet to gather helpful tips in selecting a web hosting company, SEO firm, or whichever digital marketing agency you feel can best assist you in achieving your business’s goals, and reach your target audience properly by ensuring that your website ranks highly enough to reach your targets audience and provide a favourable conversion rate.
Or, you can go ahead and read on to determine where you could have been going wrong, and what you can do to change it for the better. This guide will help you review your link building profile and polish it up by pointing out some of the most common mistakes in this regard.
They include spamming your homepage with all your links; taking a backseat once you’ve achieved your initial results; not making the best use of your anchor texts and trying to push links to content which are not relevant to who you are attempting to link to.
So let’s start with the first of these:
Building most of your links to your homepage
You obviously do want some of the links referring back to your homepage, this will help with making your site all the more crawlable which will help your rankings, but it happens all too often that just about every one of a website’s links directs you back to landing pages.
The trouble with this is that it makes for very shallow indexing of your site, and so can end up being counter-productive.
It’s recommended to spread your link building efforts equally across your site to ensure that users don’t have to trawl around for ages to find what they need, and so it is incredibly good at building trust with your users and creating an overall, high quality user experience.
A good rule to follow is that when navigating your site, a user should never be more than three clicks away from finding content which is relevant to them, anything more and they start losing interest, which means you will undoubtedly suffer a ranking drop from a high bounce rate.
Deep linking (or spreading your links across your website) will give your site more link juice, making it easily crawlable and therefore having favourable outcomes for the site’s ranking.
As far as SEO is concerned, deep linking gives you more opportunities to achieve favourable search engine visibility since it backlinks to all of your pages. This also makes your links seem a lot less like spam, which Google dutifully penalises heavily for.
Slowing down once you get good results
SEO is a dynamic field, and changes are just about constant. Getting to the first page of the search results is an enjoyable achievement indeed, but don’t expect it to stay that way once you’ve gotten your website there.
Staying on top (in fact featuring at all) requires you to constantly work to get the best online marketing for your business today, and not later. So keep on building up those backlinks and with a bit of luck you will enjoy the fruits of your labour for a long time to come. Give up on it however, and you will soon be taken over by sites which are consistently active, since Google doesn’t really want to push sites that seem inactive.
This means concentrating on building an energetic link-building profile by reaching out to other website administrators who share some form of relevance to your site. Beyond that, your efforts should still be as strong when it comes to creating interesting and informative content that will attract backlinks, and most importantly, you should still be conducting regular site audits even when everything seems to be working properly.
Doing this will not only help ensure that you consistently achieve favourable rankings, but will tighten your current paradigm and keep your backlink profile easy to manage in the future.
Leaving these efforts until later may not have an immediate negative affect on your SERP appearance right now, but it will make things easier for your competitors, and will almost surely lead to poorer results when Google eventually releases any updates (forcing you to rush back to your profile and knock out another site audit to rectify your link profile when there isn’t really time to do so.)
Forgetting about Brand Anchor text
So you’ve opted for extensive keyword research through a supplier of SEO services and you are adamant that only the keywords that they kick up should be used as anchor texts. And why not? They are the professionals. But how many times in your content have you used your name, brand, or URL?
Using either of these without making them into backlinks is just a wasted opportunity here you could be doing more to push your brand, so try not to forget to do it whenever it comes up.
The important thing to remember here is that the names and URLs you’re referring to should come up as naturally as possible, if it sounds forced and robotic, it will likely just end up looking like spam.
Thereby taking what could have been a great marketing opportunity and making it detrimental to your efforts. Always take the opportunity to attach appropriate links to your company or brand name, unless it runs the risk of making the content sound unnatural.
Not bothering with content relevance
Even before the days of Google, content relevance has been a big determining factor for search indexes. Search engines want to provide their users with websites that are of high quality and are relevant to what is being searched; and that’s the bottom line.
This is often overlooked, especially when sites take advantage of mass backlink services (or link farms) which may boost your ranking initially, but when users arrive at your site and leave in annoyance, not having been directed to what they are looking for, it will negatively affect your bounce rate, and ultimately damage your site’s rating.
Beyond this, irrelevant content will do nothing for a natural link building profile. No self-respecting website administrator wants to link with a site that may put a dent in their own profile, so in this regard, your content’s attractiveness should come almost purely from its relevance.
A final note
Always consider the do’s and don’ts of link building to stay ahead of the game. SEO and content marketing is a long running and time consuming process which, if you’re doing it within the search engine’s guidelines, shouldn’t give you staggering results over night.
If that’s what’s happened then chances are that you are exploiting some kind of loophole. These black-hat techniques may give fantastic results initially, but when they are eventually flagged by the search engine’s crawlers, your visibility will take a nasty hit, one that is an absolute hassle to fix.
The trouble comes when you’re not prepared when Google rolls out an update, and their newly developed algorithms make the site’s rating suffer horribly as a result. So avoid the temptation for the quick fixes in your link building strategies; slow and sure wins the race, and gives you time to learn from your mistakes.
Spreading the destination of your links out evenly, staying active on your website where you can (this is where blogs are helpful) and remembering to keep links relevant are essentially key points in achieving SEO greatness for your site.
“Here’s what we do know: Google pays attention to social interactions such as likes, retweets, shares, and even +1’s.”
I like his analogy that Google is an “independent filing system” for a continually ” expanding library of virtual content” online. He argues that Twitter gets our content indexed more quickly and social search measures performance.
More importantly, all social networks are indirect link-building mechanisms. The more your content is shared across social media, the more likely a content creator will find it and decide to link to it.
Targeting the Right AudienceJust getting content shared is not enough; the point is to get content to your target audience. Targeting the right audience is just as important in social media as it is in SEO. Start with this tip from Capital Merchant’s “Tips to Improve Your Social Media”:
The most important thing is to define your audience. Think of your ideal customers and write down any and all information you can think of about them. Be specific with regard to gender, race, age, and profession. The more info you can think of, the better. Now expand it a bit — you want to have three to four different target audiences that will get your messaging at different times, letting you cast a wider net and still be able to figure out what messaging resonates with what customer.
Nothing is more important than reaching potential customers and clients, rather than wasting marketing money on people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer. It is not just a matter of getting impressions. The point is to get interactions: favorites, retweets, reshares, likes, +1s, stumbles, and especially clicks.
Those interactions are likely to also be important to SEO value. Mentions on social media improve brand recognition, increasing clicks during searches. The tighter your focus on the correct audience, the stronger your results will be.
SEO Specific Social Media StrategiesIn his Forbes post “6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO,” Jayson DeMers argues there are six social media strategies that definitely improve SEO. His first strategy relates to growing the number and quality of your followers.
Our social media profiles have their own trust flow and page authority, which is affected by the quality of sites linking to them. This is easily seen by comparing Twitter accounts for writers who contribute on major sites to non-writers.
Look at @Kikolani, @GrowMap or @SEOsmarty and compare them to the average Twitter account. This holds true on all social networks. They are authority sites, and although the links are typically nofollowed, they are still considered valuable as indicators of trust.
According to “How Valuable Is That Link?,” a post gleaned from a forum discussion with SEOchat member PhilipSEO:
“Some observers think that a nofollow link from a trusted site still passes along some kind of SEO value, even if it doesn’t pass any link juice. Phil states that ‘Many have reported and speculated, for example, that nofollow links from Wikipedia and similar high-trust sites can provide a great boost to rankings in spite of nofollow.’”
It seems safe to assume that social media accounts can develop higher trust rankings dependent upon where the links originate. This could include which other authority sites mention them or reshare their content. If those links are dofollow, the Page Authority (PA) of those social media profiles will be higher.
How to Use Social Media to Boost SEODoes it then follow that shares from higher trust and PA social media accounts are more valuable for SEO purposes than shares from ordinary accounts? I would say, yes. It is possible to use social media to boost SEO.
SEOGenius Director Bruce Smeaton drills down even further:
“I think the key is in understanding what ‘more valuable for SEO purposes’ really means.” It stands to reason that a highly trusted social channel is, by default, going to generate more shares than a social media property with lower authority. And by doing so, the likelihood of these shares turning into links increases accordingly. This in turn results in higher traffic volumes being directed to your site… and this is where the magic starts. No, it doesn’t matter whether the links are “follow” or “nofollow.” What really counts here is that the traffic generated indirectly via social media interaction must impact positively on your site’s perceived value and authority. To quote the words of Search Engine Journal’s Dario Zadro, “What is more likely happening is that Google is recognizing these social signals as ‘brand signals,’ which they love.”
If higher trust and PA matter, it is highly likely that relevance does as well. There are tools like Klout and Kred that measure influence. Kred is of particular interest because it measures influence by topic.
No doubt Google algorithms can measure what is most relevant to any particular social media account. By identifying which social media users are most influential on any particular topic, they are also most likely to be valuable for SEO purposes.
SEOs need to be thinking about how identifying and using influencers will impact their SEO rankings. Those who do not will be wondering why competitors are outranking them without having any idea why.
Google has announced a new change to its webmaster policy – from now on, if your website gets a manual penalty, it may not get a second chance to dominate the listings.
In a change that is designed to hurt black hat SEOs more than the Penguin and Panda updates, Google has stated that it will no longer tolerate those who repeatedly breach Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.
The announcement was made on September 18, 2015, in a blog post on the official Google webmaster central blog: Repeated violations of Webmaster Guidelines. Unlike many of the blog posts that appear on the webmaster central blog, this was written anonymously. Being banned by Google is every webmaster’s worst nightmare and some people take it very personally, so it’s no surprise nobody wished to put their name to the change in policy!
Why the Change Now?
In their blog post, Google says that the change in policy is to further improve the quality of the search results. Google has carried out many major changes over the last five years that have made great progress in improving search quality, but one problem still persists – some people are still gaming the search engine.
Google started cleansing the SERPs with the Panda series of updates. These penalised websites that had low quality, poorly written, duplicate and thin content pages. The old SEO trick of creating a new page for each target keyword and filling it with spammy, keyword stuffed text was over.
Google followed this with a series of updates that tackled the problem of link spam – the now infamous Penguin updates. Suddenly, SEO was no longer about getting more links that the competition. Links now have to be earned, and acquired from very high quality sources. The inner workings of Penguin are still unclear, but it seems that just about every easy-to-get link is now devalued – many are probably totally worthless. Directory links, comment links, blogroll links, forum signatures etc. are now deemed by many to be ineffective for SEO.
However, some SEOs are still doing very well because although Google has improved its search algorithm. With some careful planning and some excellent links, you can still rank well. In short, unnatural links are still working for many people.
Google works hard to identify and manually penalise websites that buy or sell links. Whenever Google has good evidence that somebody has been selling links to pass PageRank, it applies a manual penalty.
However, in these cases, manual penalties are easy to recover from. All you need to do is remove the links (or add a nofollow attribute) and submit a reconsideration request, explaining how very sorry you are and beg to have the penalty lifted. In the past, Google trusted webmasters enough to grant them their wish, and would lift the penalty.
Unfortunately, some webmasters have exploited this and, after having a reconsideration request approved, they would start selling links again or remove the nofollow tags. This is Google’s main bugbear at the moment, and this latest change in policy directly tackles this problem. Google says that it will no longer tolerate webmasters who repeatedly breach its quality guidelines.
Google has not said exactly how harshly it will treat repeat offenders, saying only in its blog that “repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve”. In some cases, Google may still allow a website to recover – but in other cases, there may well be no way back in the SERPs after a repeat offence.
We have already seen some websites, most notably known link sellers, completely drop out of the Google index. We predict that in the future, more sites will suffer a similar fate. If you are not a white hat SEO, take heed – your days may be numbered!