The world of SEO seems to be constantly in flux. With each Google algorithm change comes an existential crisis for the industry, although hopefully we are over the worst excess of that era and the present zeitgeist is one which is likely to be around for a while. Link building is the bread and butter of good SEO work, but is something that people often mess up. Below is a handy guide to how to make sure your link building is top quality.
Definition of link building
Building high-quality links is an arduous job that requires high quality content, website partners and well-optimized keywords. Hyperlinks direct traffic from other sites to your own and are used to navigate around the web. Google uses crawl data to assess which links register most for key terms and uses this to position its search result rankings. Therefore, good linksmanship is an essential part of the SEO trade.
The importance of link building
Search engines need links to determine rankings and to identify the new kids on the block that need to be ranked. Google published a short videowhich breaks things down pretty nicely. While search engines identify key terms on a site, they also look to external sites to see how many are linking back to the original site. Google provides weight to different sites and getting a link on a clean, well- respected site is going to do you a lot of good when it comes to ranking. That’s why time needs to be spent on ensuring that links are getting built in the right places.
When you link to relevant and high quality sites that has been crawled by spiders and has made a correlation to your website, there will be a great possibility that Google will consider your site a prime candidate to appear on Page 1 on Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs)
The anatomy of a hyperlink
A handy article I read recently provided a great breakdown of how the link building process works and how Google reads it in order to rank a site. This is basic stuff, but it’s good to know how the nuts and bolts of the process works.
- Anchor. This comes at the start of the hyperlink and lets Google know that link tag is about to follow that is going to need to be ranked.
- Link Referral location. This is the link address which you click on to take you to wherever you need to go on the information superhighway.
- Visible/anchor text of the link. This is the text that users see on a page that guides them to a link. Think the ‘contact us’ phraseology as an example of this.
- Link tag closing lets Google know that the anchor is at an end.
Weighting of thematic clusters of ranking factors in Google
A number of different factors affect Google rankings and there is a good breakdown of that here. The algorithms are ever more complex, but quality is the key to Google search success these days. What this means has been discussed in-depth elsewhere.
However, finding quality partners that fit with your brand and that Google considers as ‘clean’ certainly helps, as well as ensuring that what you produce is informative and can generate organic traffic that is linked to from a variety of places is certainly the main factor affecting rankings.
Benefits of link building to your business
To rank well, there is no substitute for high-quality links to high-quality content. However, there are more than just SEO benefits to consider when building links. There are a number of intangibles that can help any business. One of these is that of building up business contacts that can reciprocate. By borrowing, partnering and generally working together, there are benefits to both sides in the short and long term.
The key thing to remember though, as I have stated multiple times already, is quality. Once you find a potential partner they need to find what you do worthwhile in order to encourage their audience to give you a chance. Quality content is key to quality partnerships and the rankings follow.
Social Media is always there to help
While it is still debatable as to the true impact of social media with SEO rankings, there are still many who insists that Social Media does add to the organic success of a website even if it is not directly obvious.
But, it is widely accepted that there is a relationship between SEO and Social Media. Some experts think that by appearing and being mentioned on a post in a social media site like Facebook can be a ranking factor. Even without a hyperlink, just by having your brand appear in a site is a signal to Google. Here we see the effectiveness of Social Media in giving your product an increase in brand awareness and promote more social mentions and conversations about your brand. Think of it like a snowball effect as its signals grow.
Lastly, believe it or not, Social Media can increase your website’s traffic which is a big factor in rankings. The most popular items we see in Facebook are informative and interesting content, funny or tragic videos, intriguing blog posts and other compelling content. You could get higher rankings especially when users read your entire blog post or watch the whole video before moving on to another site. This is measured by search engines: bounce rate, new visits, return visits, pages per visit and time spent on a website. The more engaged a user is measured, the higher the ranking could be.
Admit it, at least part of the reason you choose to write for a blog is to increase your traffic. Maybe you are a business trying to push your brand, or you might just rely on your content itself to produce revenue. Either way, you won’t get anywhere without plenty of people reading what you write. You can never have too many readers.
The truth is, some of this is going to come down to time. It takes a few years to really build brand loyalty, especially for a blog that deals entirely on interaction between the blogger and the audience. But in the meantime, you can definitely do many things to start increasing your traffic and so improve your chances of hooking the ever-sought long time reader.
Begin Narrowing Down Your Readers
One of the biggest mistake people make in any kind of content campaign is trying to appeal to everyone. Believe it or not, casting your net too wide will actually hook you less readers, and bring is far less traffic. Without a plan, you will just to blindly attempting to find people in an endless crowd, and most will not have any interest in your blog.
Ask yourself: who are you writing for? What kind of person will be most likely to read and enjoy your posts? Are they male, female, young adults, middle aged, in North America, in Europe, in Asia? Once you know who you want to write for, it will be easier to find out what content gets the most attention.
- Understanding Audience Demographics with Google Analytics
- 5 Tools to Research the Demographics of Your Twitter Followers
Start Researching What Those Readers Like
Now you have an idea of who you are targeting. It is time to start looking into their common interests. If you already have a following, even a small one, this is even easier. Most social accounts and blog commenting is connected through services like Disqus, or using social sign on with Facebook, Twitter, ect. You can just follow the line and see what catches their eye.
There is a fair chance you will actually be within your target demographic, and so will have a personal sneak peek into what they might like. If that is the case, take some time to consider what content you have looked at, saved, read through or shared lately. What gets you excited?
Begin Reaching Out To Other Blogs
Reach out to other blogs – or individual bloggers – and see about potentially writing a post for their site, invite them to contribute to yours or set up an expert interview with them. All it takes is one post on a single blog with regular traffic, and you can see a serious increase in your own blog’s traffic.
Not only that, but it boosts your own visibility and authority around the web. The more of an expert you appear on your niche, the more people will seek you out to find your opinion.
Build a Social Media Presence
This is one of the single most important things you can do as a blogger. Social media is the perfect compliment to a blog, because it allows you to both share your content and to engage directly with your potential readers.
Become well known on at least one social network, building up your followers there and really beginning a conversation. A well rounded social strategy is best, with different accounts for different types of interaction (Pinterest for sharing images connected to posts, Twitter for finding influencers, Google+ for connecting with others in your niche or microblogging, ect).
- BEST Social Media Tools: Are You Using Them? (Collective Mastermind)
- Use Viral Content Buzz for more shares and exposure!
Find Out What Is Popular From Competitors
Your competitors are another great place to see what is popular with your demographic. You can take a look at their highest performing posts, what is being shared, and on what networks. Read through the comments and get a feel for what people are saying, and what questions they might have.
While you won’t want to directly the topics of their posts, a competing blog can give you some inspiration, while pointing you in the right direction.
Get Comfortable With SEO
SEO is as much a part of search ranking as it ever was. But there is a right way and a wrong way to doing it, and you need to learn the difference to properly optimize your content. Having the right keywords to target, including them naturally in your posts, using tags and descriptions, meta-data and image optimization…this is all a part of it.
Make Sure Your Site Flies
Nothing is worse than spending weeks and months on building the traffic and then losing your peak moment because your server is down.
Besides, your site performance and load time also affects your user experience and hence rankings.
- Make sure your server is reliable. Site Geek is my top source of hosting reviews and uptime reports.
Track Your Site’s Analytics
Once you start to produce content, it is time to watch how it does. Tracking analytics, both those from your blog itself and on social networks, is a key to doing this. Seeing what is most popular, and what drives traffic more, will give you an idea of what to write about in the future.
It will also show you what content to re-promote later on, or repackage as other forms of media to further exploit.
Increasing your traffic in a more targeted way takes work. But it is also very rewarding, and over time using these tactics and a bit of consistent content writing/sharing, you will begin to really see results.
Have any advice to offer others searching for a way to boost their blog traffic? Used a particular method that has worked wonders for you? We would love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments.
A Simple Graphic for On Page SEO to maximize your search position in Google.
All the basics are covered.
SEO tactics come and go, but the bed rock of all good SEO is right here. Make every page this clean and clear and the battle for Google search results is half won.
- Content Style and Design
- Keyword Optimization and placement
- Site Speed
- Optimized images
- Alt, title and description tags
- Internal and External linking Strategies
Everything a small business needs to consider when optimizing their site is written in to this, the easiest SEO Infographic check list ever written!
I prepared this info graphic to help clients just starting out online. However, the infographic also keeps the seasoned site creator and content marketer on their toes.
This infographic doesn’t guarantee you first place in Google, or any other search engine. But it does tell you what you need to do if you want to be in the running.
If you want to rank first, both in Google’s eyes and in the eyes of your website visitors, follow these simple steps.
Source: Mallee Blue Media