If you wish to rank well on Google, you need to find a way to get many website owners to link to you. In SEO terminology, the effort aimed at obtaining such links is called link building. Each time you succeed in getting a website owner to link to your website, Google considers it an endorsement of your website’s appeal, and promotes you.
In the beginning, Google’s concept of how link building worked was a simplistic one. If a website had a link coming in, Google didn’t check to see where it came from. If your site had 200 links from no-name websites that you paid to link to you, Google couldn’t tell. As far as Google was concerned, your website had to be very important because hundreds of websites linked to you.
Over the years, everyone wised up to Google’s simple approach
It didn’t take website owners and low- end SEO services long to learn about Google’s simplistic link system. They wasted no time exploiting it through black hat SEO techniques. Here are some of the interesting approaches that they came up with:
- Link exchanges: They set up membership networks that any website owner could sign up to. Members helped one another out. If you posted links to the websites of all the other members on your website they would do the same for you. Now, Google smells out such activities and penalizes you if you try them.
- Marketing through content farms: Website owners would hire unqualified writers to write 500-word articles for them for as little as $2 each, put links to their website in them and publish them on content farms like E-zine Articles and Associated Content. Usually, these articles were so poorly written as to be unreadable; many were created by article spinning programs that put out complete gibberish. Nevertheless, Google couldn’t tell gibberish apart from meaningful language, and rewarded such efforts. Today, Google recognizes these links as spam and demotes websites for using them.
- Building links through a link-building network: Marketers would build hundreds of blogs in dozens of countries around the world, and let website owners access them for a fee. Anyone could sign up, go to these websites and put in cheap articles with links back to their own websites.
- Using keyword-rich anchor text: To use keyword-rich anchor text, you would post an article online, insert a few important keywords and then hyperlink them to point back to your website. Google recognizes this trick now and keeps a close watch on excessive activity of this kind.
Manipulating Google no longer works
Now that Google is wise to many of the tricks that Internet marketers and website owners use, it doesn’t make sense to try looking for shortcuts anymore. Even if you do find one that works today, it could well earn you a penalty the next time Google updates its algorithm. All you can do today is to put genuine effort into building links.
The best way to build your reputation online is perform white hat SEO to network with other website owners and impress them. You can either find a professional to help build your search engine presence or do it yourself.
How do you impress a website owner enough to link to you?
The only reliable way to get the owner of a website to link to you is to show them how doing so would benefit them. Figuring out what benefit you are able to offer to them can take considerable research.
To begin, study the website that you hope for a link from to see how their area of interest might logically dovetail into areas that your own website deals in. Then, find an angle that helps show the owner of the other website that their readers would genuinely find your content interesting.
To truly appeal to the website, you may need to add content specifically to attract their users. Among other ideas, you can create unique case studies, interviews, checklists spreadsheets, online calculators, how-to tutorials and specially commissioned market research studies. If the content you think of isn’t available anywhere else, the owner of the other site will be forced to link to you.
Most websites do not put in this kind of effort. If you do it, you will be unstoppable.
Jerome Swanson is a digital marketer at Titan Digital specialising in local search. When not cleaning up NAP issues he devotes his time to his lovely wife, Liverpool Football Club and the game Football Manager!
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