“The key here of course is quality content. Go to a blogger – even one with a low PR rank – and try to palm off rubbish content and you’ll get the reaction you deserve. Go to a blogger with content that is highly relevant to them and well researched and written, and you’re set for a strong link back.”
Link-earning is the new kid on the block and it sums up what you should be trying to achieve with your link building strategies. In short, links should be earnt; they should not be automatically generated, nor bought, nor forced, nor used as a bribe. They should be earnt.
Is your SEO Agency delivering quality SEO links?
SEO agencies doing back-linking has been around since the early days of SEO, but the process has evolved so much over the years (changes driven by the search engines) it is now crucial you ensure your SEO agency are delivering quality links otherwise your website could end up being binned by Google and the others.
Here we explain what makes good back-linking and what should be avoided at all costs. This information will allow you to understand whether your SEO agency are delivering the quality you expect.
What is SEO back link?
Firstly, just what is SEO back-link. It sounds very mysterious, but it’s quite simple. The internet is purely trillions of pages of data which are all connected with each other via links.
In the industry parlance, an SEO back-link is one which exists from one site to another. The link leaving a site is known as the outbound link, one arriving is an inbound link. The highest value is usually placed on the inbound link (the back-link to your site), as it means someone else has taken the time and trouble to ‘recognise’ your site and create a link.
And this is how the search engines mainly judge a site – how many inbound links there are, because the theory is, the more links, the greater the popularity and standing of a given site.
That’s all well and good, but you can see the problem and how this simple theory could be abused. People began to realise that if you arranged as many links as possible, you would race up the rankings. Thus link farms were born. There were sites which had been around for a long time and got high page ranks (known as PR and another way sites are judged). Links from there could be purchased and directed towards the buyer’s website.
Fine, but if you can buy a link, there’s no quality judgement involved. So, any rubbish site with big pockets could position itself on a high ranking, for any given key word, and dominate the market.
The problem was, that the web quickly became full of lead catching websites which were not bothered with the user experience, or whether the site was appropriate, all they wanted was leads to sell to others.
We’ve all experienced it – you type in a search and websites with nothing to do with what you want it sitting there on the top positions. You visit the site and all they’re after is data, which they then sell to someone else.
It still exists to some extent, but after a series of algorithm changes (known as Farmer, Panda and Penguin), Google has made great strides in improving the user experience. Many of the data collecting websites have gone (or, had to radically change their approach) and sites now have much improved pages for their users.
Indeed, if you could sum up Google in two words currently, it would be User Experience.
And you can two further words which you should always bear in mind with SEO, quality and relevance.
It’s this new playing field which dictates the new tactics on back-linking.
Right, here’s what to consider when thinking about a back-linking strategy.
1. Remember its Earnt, not Bought
There’s a new phrase in town: link earning. It is beginning to replace back-linking and it’s more a state of mind, than a tactic.
Bear in mind that the search engines have not entirely been eradicated, so people are still out there buying non-relevant links and still using black-hat techniques to get themselves high on the rankings. However, they do run the risk of being spotted by Google and the others, trashed.
Avoid spammy links at all costs. See your site as something that can attract good links on a natural basis. If you pack your site with high quality content and provide a high quality user service, then it will rise to the surface.
So earn those links – don’t see them as a given right.
2. Natural Links Are Key
Write down a list of people you know, from family and friends, right through to work colleagues and associates. Evangelise your site and spread the word. Get them to link to your site from their own and that works across the social media platforms as well. Anyone with a Facebook page, or Twitter account, should be encouraged to link back to your site. It all helps.
3. So How Can Other Links be Generated?
The other ways to generate links are perfectly respectable and should be used by all, even they are arguably less effective than they once were. Here are the basics: article/blog submissions, press release submissions and directory listings.
4. Article/Blog Submissions
If you’re producing good content, it can be used both on-site and off-site. Great content marketing will be lapped up by others wishing to include your articles and blogs, and they will reciprocate with a link back.
The key here of course is quality content. Go to a blogger – even one with a low PR rank – and try to palm off rubbish content and you’ll get the reaction you deserve. Go to a blogger with content that is highly relevant to them and well researched and written, and you’re set for a strong link back.
And if you can, target the niches, as less mainstream outlets are often neglected by the big players.
5. Press Release Submissions
After being a poor marketing mix element for a while now, PR has come into own when implemented online. Many free PR distribution websites have good PR ranks and have inherent credibility. In return for a submission, you get some good material outline and you should also get a decent back-link.
6. Directory Listings
Be careful here. There are zillions of directory websites out there and many, despite their claims, have just one purpose in life, to generate low quality back-links. The problem is that the search engines can spot these a mile off, so think before you add your name to one of these directories. It could do you more harm than good. Check out the directory before you enrol and this mainly about its relevancy. Is it a directory which operates in your industry? Is it a local directory, which lists companies in your area. Is it a trade association, or professional body – these are all links you should be trying to generate?
7. Avoid Auto Links
A quick search on the internet will reveal thousands of sites which promise automated links via brilliant software programmes and special tricks. Avoid these. Automated links are frowned upon by search engines and are easily spotted for what they are. They fly in the face of the Google mantra of a high quality user experience based upon quality and relevance.
8. Keep Numbers Down
Back-linking is no longer a numbers game. The search engines will not give you a round of applause for the number of low quality links you have – indeed, they might very well bin you because you have too many ‘spammy’ links. One quality link is worth hundreds of low quality links – it’s that simple. Keep the focus on generating links which are based on merit – coming from great sites that have a genuine reason to create a link to your site.
Need help with SEO Link building from an expert SEO Agency?
We reckon we’ve got a great approach to back-linking, so if you’d like to hear how we do it, send us an email, or give us a call. We’re here for you.