2012 was a year of changes in the world of SEO. Google came out with several algorithm updates that basically rocked the whole search engine system. With updates such as Panda and Penguin, the once easy way of getting a site ranked at the top of Google became a tough game of chess, where highly refined strategies and not short-lived tactics are the winning elements.
In 2013, with the rumors of Google launching a Penguin 2.0 update in our midst, it becomes quite critical to design and implement a link building strategy that won’t hurt your website’s search standing should this rumor inevitably come to pass. I say inevitably simply because it seems real enough that Matt Cutts and his team would follow up on their previous algo updates with a few more just to lock down their new rankings system and to mess with our minds a little bit more. Well, let’s show those nerds from Google a thing or two by coming up with a strategy that is at least two or three steps ahead of them.
Here are several link building rules and tips to keep in mind for your 2013 link building program:
Google has never hidden its affinity for social media. Pretty much anything that goes viral gets a special place in the SERPs. That has been the case for the past two years or so. And, now that Google has its very own social network, Google+, you can bet that Cutts and his teams are paying more attention to social signals than ever before and making sure that these signals affect search rankings.
The logic is simple really. Promoting your website or blog on social media generates traffic for you. This means more people visiting your site and possibly more people sharing and recommending your site or your content to others. If that picks up, you will naturally get a tremendous amount of social backlinks that Google will easily see because, yes, they are always watching.
In 2013, focus your efforts on these social platforms for website or content sharing and syndication:
Stop Obsessing About Site Authority and Page Rank
About one or two years back, the whole SEO world went crazy about high authority links. At that time, Google held .gov and .edu domains in high regard. This meant that if you had backlinks on sites with these types of domains, you would have struck gold. Unfortunately, the frenzy opened the door to link spamming thus, depreciating the value of most of these domains.
The same goes with high PR or Page Rank sites. Post-penguin SEO saw a surge in link building tactics aimed at dropping links on domains and pages with high PR. While those kinds of tactics still seem to work today, Google looks to be leaning more into a path where relevancy becomes so much heavier than Page Rank or Domain Authority. This leads us to believe that it would be more beneficial in the long run to post content with links to your website to sites with low authority and low PR but highly relevant to your niche as opposed to posting on non-relevant high authority and high PR sites that have no relevancy whatsoever. Besides, if you really think about it, you will realize that the PR of a site or page naturally improves through traffic, syndication and engagement. So, with just a little work, you can actually have quality backlinks on relevant sites with decent PR.
Focus on Generating Traffic Not SEO Juice
Google has already changed the game in a way where the value of backlinks has become overrated. The way it looks nowadays, Google wants you to build links that will genuinely get you visitors as opposed to building links only for the SEO value of the link. Some experts speculate that Google will roll out future updates where traffic quality will become more valuable than backlink value in determining rankings. This line of thinking is actually aligned with the whole movement towards social sharing and syndication.
So, what does this mean? Simply put, just shift to building links that will get you more traffic and focus on that. Syndicate your links on social media instead of building all those forum and Web 2.0 profile links that many people don’t pay attention to. Be active on forums instead of just spamming them with hundreds of dummy profile links created with SEO software. Post content on sites that is relevant to your niche and syndicate it. Use videos to attract and drive traffic to your website (YouTube is a good platform for that). This type of mindset actually helps you to be less dependent on Google for traffic, and will make your site more adaptable should Google fully shift to this kind of ranking system.
Stop Purchasing Links
Buy a backlink from a relevant site with high PR? Sure, you will get a good boost in the SERPs. No question about that. However, eventually Google will catch on and penalize those sites because chances are, if they sold a backlink to you, they will sell to others. The high PR site will later end up with a high amount of OBL or outbound lLinks, which Google will view as spammy. They will penalize that site and the websites linked to it. Drop this tactic now and remain safe come 2013 and beyond.
Anchor Links Naturally
The age of the keyword-oriented link building strategy is almost over. Google wants your backlinks to appear natural and not forced or spammy. This means over-optimizing your backlinks over a select few keyword anchors is not a good idea anymore. Google wants to see more backlinks in the form of raw URLs and your brand name as this is the natural and organic way a link is shared online. Don’t worry. As long as the keywords you want to rank high for are properly inserted into the content on your site, you will be all right.
Don’t get me wrong – the occasional use of keywords as anchor texts for your backlinks still works nicely. Just minimize it to about 20 or 30 percent of your overall link profile leaving the remainder reserved for natural anchors like your URL and your brand or site name.
By now, you can probably see a trend forming. Google’s future thrust is to rank websites based on traffic. The more traffic your website is able to generate organically through mediums other than the SERPs, the better your rankings will be. Yes, it seems a bit weird but that is what many think Google’s nerds are hinting at. So, for 2013, focus on that and not on the traditional way of link building.
By Mark Marquardt in Featured