Many think link building is “dead” because the rules have changed so drastically over the years that what was perceived as smart tactics are now deemed spammy, and therefore have no positive results for SEO. These “smart tactics” also hinge on the stigma of “black SEO magicians” performing “dark tricks” to manipulate rankings. If you subscribe to this school of thought, stop. Link building is crucial for SEO success, and the standards in its process have simply evolved into a practice that helps improve search results for users thereby making the process much more difficult than it once was.
Google’s core algorithm is based on links. In fact, the search engine flat out said that without link building, SEO is extremely hard. Creating valuable links in 2019 will mean bowing to the evolving rules of legitimate link building while increasing one’s skills, tools, creativity, and perseverance. Link builders still stuck in their own ways simply lack the ability to build links the right way. This is why organizations hire Google-partner SEO agencies to create valuable backlinks that will improve their online visibility and aid in the process of hitting their growth goals.
So Why will Link Building for SEO be so Dang Hard in 2019?
Back before Google launched its Penguin Spam Filter in April 2012, it was easy to manipulate rankings by adding tons of links. But this era is a distant memory. Since then the Google Penguin Spam Filter has become part of the search engine’s core algorithm, and it communicates with other aspects of that central component. In 2016 Google rolled out Hummingbird to improve content, and after this it AI and machine learning RankBrain was announced as the third biggest ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.
What this all means is simple: links for SEO MUST reflect relevancy between content on both the referring domain, and the target landing page. The content must be high-quality, reflect consumer demands, and provide value to readers. One way of ensuring this is to learn to spy on competitors to improve SEO by studying their backlink portfolio looking for strengths and weaknesses. The link can be viewed as the bridge between on-site and off-site content that helps Google better understand what the landing page’s content is all about. It will also provide for a positive user experience by facilitating more navigation options to the kind of information people are looking for. And as people click on the backlinks and interact with your website, powerful engagement signals will be sent to Google that will improve your ranking.
Building Links for SEO in 2019 Must Be Strategic with a Defined Goal
“He with the most links wins” was the motto about seven years ago. But this is no longer the case. Remember that behind every link acquisition there is a goal. Competitive link building will cause you to lose site of this very quickly. Your goal isn’t to get a ton of high quality links, nor is it to rank. Your goal is to grow your business and generate revenue. Link building is just one way to improve SEO so that your content can convert readers into customers. That said, your links need to make sense for a growth-driven strategy.
Ultimately, your ability to rank content for audiences most likely to convert stems from website content, and off-site articles with backlinks to your landing pages. That said, your content strategy and linking strategy should be aligned to achieve the same goal. You will need to develop in-depth buyer personas, discover where these buyers consume the most information, discover what topics and pain points they engage the most, and create a strategy focused in these areas that combines content and links.
Your Anchor Text Matters
In light of how Google crawls content and learns from user behavior in the SERPs, your link’s anchor text matters in two big ways: it tells readers directly what the benefit is for clicking the link, and it helps Google better understand what your content is about, and who it’s for.
Growth driven anchor texts with SEO value should be the goal. By using a primary keyword, signifying who the content is for, what it’s about, and what value exists on the landing page, you can get better ranking and increase conversion rates.
For example, if you are an ecommerce scuba diving equipment business, and you want to clear out inventory on regulators to make room for the new model coming out, some ideal anchor texts could be:
- Save 40% on Apeks cold water scuba regulators here
- Buy a new scuba diving computer, get a Mares octo for free
- Lowest prices on Sherwood scuba regulators guaranteed
- Save 20% on scuba diving gear for tropical divers
- View our clearance sale on titanium scuba diving regulators
So long as the anchor text offers value to readers and reflects associated content, SEO and sales will improve.
DoFollow VS NoFollow Links for SEO
You already know that when a link points at a site it gets a slight SEO boost. These links are awarded points, and the more points you have, the better you will rank. A “DoFollow” link allows for points (or SEO juice) to flow through to your domain , while “NoFollow” links don’t pass any SEO juice on. Because of this, many SEO agencies only focus on getting follow links, but this is a mistake.
While links with the follow attribute are certainly more valuable, having a backlink portfolio of only these links can look spammy and give Google the appearance that you are paying for your links. While getting lots of links from CNN and the Huffington Post used to be SEO gold, in 2019 it will look like you paid your links and the result can be SEO suicide.
Google loves links that appear to be natural and relevant. This means someone needs to link to your article or page because they see value in it and not because you are “link building”. By creating a diverse portfolio of good backlinks with both follow attributes, you can get more SEO juice that matters.
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