When I speak with clients and I do this all day a common misconception is that their SEO campaign is all about the number of backlinks they will receive.
A common statement usually goes like this: ‘I’m currently on page 2 of Google and have been stuck there for many months, can you I pay you for some backlinks?’
Herein lies the issue and the problem surrounding most SEO campaigns. It’s not all about the backlinks. Far too many SEO agencies will simply go about building backlinks and think that this works, well it doesn’t and the proof of this is through the number of phone calls I get every day from people that have gone down this path and suffered the consequences. That is, terrible rankings!
For an effective SEO campaign, link building is only 1 component. To rely purely on this will have a detrimental effect on your site, especially if it’s left in the hands of one of the scores of thousands of dodgy SEO companies that have no idea about SEO. There are a number of other variables that need to be taken into account.
Your Back Link Profile is Vital, but there are other variables…
Let me start by clearing the air and stating that your backlink profile is seriously important. It is probably one of the most effective ways to get your website ranking and we have proved this many times over in the past. Link building tells Google that you are an authority website and they should trust you which is a massive ranking signal. The more trust and authority you have, the higher your going to rank.
A great, high-quality backlink profile is one thing but most businesses get hung up about this and this is all they want to see. This is ‘old school SEO and is no longer the magic bullet. The logic behind this is simple; the more the better? Right, no this is wrong!
Related article: 5 Crucial SEO Ranking Factors
Google will only reward your website if it sees that your backlinks have been built naturally, slowly, methodically and over a gradual time period. Mass link building is not on and is a sure way to get your website flagged by Google as an attempt to spam the system and fraudulently try to manipulate the results. It’s a huge no-no and is still widely practised by a huge percentage of SEO agencies throughout Australia. Google wants to see backlinks that come from high authority, industry-relevant websites that also have strong trust. This is what counts.
Simply put 10 000 backlinks from low authority sites is not as valuable as 1 link from a high authority website. You do the math and see what you need to do to create a strong link profile. If you want thousands of spammy links you better watch out for the pending Google penalty as it will hit you and boy o boy it will hit hard! Get out of the mindset that quantity is better than quality. It’s a fools dream and one perpetrated by SEO agencies that rely on these ‘black hat’ tactics as they do not know any better and do not have the resources or knowledge to attain high authority links.
What is the Google Algorithm?
This is Google’s way of sifting through the billions of web pages online and giving you the user the information you require when searching. This algorithm is designed to display the most relevant and trustworthy information so you ( the consumer) have all the information you ever need at your fingertips. It’s sophisticated, highly complicated and best of all, always changing. For us SEO companies this is what keeps us on our toes and awake at night, trying to figure out what Google is up to when it’s changing its algorithm. This algorithm is made up of thousands of individual ranking components and is designed by some of the best minds on the planet. After all, this is Google and they can recruit the very best people.
Although this algorithm is diverse it can be broken down into some major components that go towards establishing website rankings.
The Hummingbird Update: this is all about the search and Google will look at keywords and phrases as well as your web page relevance to deliver results. Google will take factors like location into account as well as other on-page factors on your website. So for example, if you’re looking for ‘best surf villas in Bali’ from your desktop in Sydney you will get a list of all the villa agencies in Sydney with generic information. If you’re in Bali doing this same task you will get information about individual villas. It is quite specific and was a game-changer in terms of delivering search results.
The Penguin Update: looks at your backlink profile and will determine what links are valuable and what are spammy. If your profile is deemed too spammy then you have 2 options; prune those unnecessary invaluable links or face the consequences of the penguin. The penguin will also look at the way in which you have been building these links. Are they all pointing to one page with an emphasis on certain keywords or is there diversity? Links from so-called ‘grey hat’ or sites that are not exactly bad but are also not good, will also get an eye cast over them. If you have been over-reliant on PR postings or directory websites then this will go against you. Remember, with linking it MUST be from high authority sites – anything less will be targeted by the Penguin algorithm.
The Panda Update: is the content filter and will weed out any websites for punishment that have little or no relevant copy, duplicate content or are keyword stuffing ( writing for the search engines by repeating your main core keywords in the hope of improving rankings). Poor quality on-page content is not what your website visitors are looking for and Google knows this so be warned. Make sure every word written for your website is designed for the consumer’s engagement and not Google’s.
RankBrain is the newest kid on the block and is designed to rank websites according to what it feels that humans are searching for and delivering these results.
A point to note here that these are the main ranking updates, there are heaps more ( pigeon, caffeine and pirate) but you really should be aware of these; linking, content and on-site technical specifics. These Google updates that are happening more often and these trends that started years ago are set to continue well into 2016 & 2017.
As you can see if you are only focusing on link building you are ignoring the other core ranking elements as listed above. Links are just one facet, the others are as important and need to be addressed throughout your SEO campaign.
Here’s how they all apply:
Links are vital and they need to be implemented in a slow organic fashion. Natural link building is all about getting another website to endorse your site via a link and this has to come from a relevant source that’s in your industry. This is the difficult part and can take a long time to achieve. This is why they are so valuable. You actually have to put the effort and hard yards into getting g these link endorsements. I know how hard I have to work to get some of these and it can take ages. You need to build online relationships with people from all over the web and nurture these. This is why SEO and rankings are time-consuming as you then need to know what to do with these. A scattergun, mass link building approach is no good and is not the way to go. Look at it this way, the harder it is to get the link, the more valuable it becomes.
Content is king and is one of the BIG 3 when it comes to Google rankings. Ensuring that your site has valuable, worthwhile, rich content is going to remind Google that you are the best in your industry and they will keep on coming around to your website to look for other interesting tidbits of information. The more Google crawls your site, the more chance you will have of getting your web content ranked. The key here is to write articles, blogs and keep on adding pages to your site. Same as I am doing here with this blog – it works, you have to trust me on this. Also, for heaven’s sake, don’t ever plagiarise from any other sites and pass it off as your own or try to stuff as many keywords as you can on the page. It just looks silly and will turn off customers.
Technical ‘on page’ elements are the third critical element. Your website is like a racing car and it needs to be running at peak performance the whole time if Google is going to rank it. Make sure you look at things like page titles and descriptions, page load speed, missing or broken links, flash animation, mobile-friendly (responsive sites), correct implementation of 301’s ( from old websites to new websites) as well as images and graphics. All of these must come together nicely if your site has any chance of ranking.
The big thing that you should get from this is that link building is only one essential part of a balanced and ethical SEO strategy. Whilst it is a good thing and over-reliance on this will tip the scales against your site. Try to be as diverse and legitimate as you can be when it comes to getting on Google and building your brand or business online. This is the only way you will ever rank.
Never try to game or beat the system. Google is just far too sophisticated and advanced for these trivial measures. They have seen it all before and they know every trick in the book.