With the supposed constantly changing algorithms being used by Google in its search engine indexing, web marketers are constantly looking for those silver bullets that will help them stay atop the ever-changing website listings.
One of the ways SEO developers try to stay on top is through backlinks. As we know, not all links are created equal. Spammers and blackhat SEO coders often manipulate site code and build link farms in efforts to put their sites on top, even when they are not the most relevant sites. Their methods are intelligent, but hurtful to sites who are trying to gain ranking as it was designed, by organic relevance and content authority.
The key is determining which links to your site will help you move up in the rankings as opposed to getting flagged and penalized for the wrong type of link. A recent interview with a member of Google’s search quality team offered a rare glimpse behind the curtain of the search engine giant. We have summarized three types of links that are still very effective to helping your site reach the top of a Google search.
1. Relevant Partner Links Within Your Industry Niche
If you remember that organic relevance is the most critical, then it makes perfect sense for you to build a strong network with owners of websites in the same industry space as yours. That does not mean linking to the competition, but it could mean reaching out to suppliers and related industries.
Think logically and think as the consumer. Does this link add to the credibility of my site? Does it add to the offerings I am trying to provide? For example, an HVAC/R company may desire to have links from its compressor manufacturers so that consumers, manufacturer’s reps and sourcing businesses can see the partnership between quality equipment manufacturers. The key is relevance. Add to the discussion. Don’t waste time on random links just to have links.
2. Industry/Niche Specific Directory Links
There are some who would quickly discount the value of industry directories. However, our friends at Google will tell you that good quality, moderated directories or niche directories are still worth looking at.
Depending on your market and whether you are a B2B or B2C, there are lots of good directories for most markets. Consumers use these to help source materials and products, so why wouldn’t you want to be listed?
On the other hand, beware of poor content and keyword-stuffed directories that are obvious link farms. They have no weight because they list everybody with a pulse (or no pulse at all). Again, the key is relevance. If a directory serves your market, you’ll be better off getting an accurate listing and link from them.
3. Links from Quality Websites
This should go without saying, but be sure that the pages from which you solicit links are quality web pages. Google judges your link profile by the quality of pages linking to your site. So look for relevant links from quality websites.
Show the consumer that you are adding value to their web experience by your link to other relevant content. In turn, show those to whom you request links can see that your content is adding value to their site. Trust us, getting a handful of links from quality pages that are relevant to your content, dynamic and free of spammy garbage, will help you much more than hundreds of links from splogs, spam links and random directories.
If we are going to summarize this material, it is to say that the new way of optimizing your site is the old way. The best SEO is to not focus on SEO, but to focus on developing relevant content that is dynamic and an aid to the consumer. Develop partnerships with other relevant websites and create a network that benefits the consumer.
Invest in relevance and customer centricity and the traffic and sales will follow. Give your visitors a reason to stay by providing them the information they are looking for. That is the simple definition of relevance. Reputable search engines like Google will reward you with increased rankings.
Are people going to continue to attempt to manipulate the system and cheat their way to the top? Of course, they are. However, we can rest assured that there are teams (growing teams in fact) of specialists at the search engines that are spending their entire work time weeding out cheaters, irrelevant sites and splogs on a daily basis.
It’s not a question of if these black hatters will be caught, it’s when. Don’t give in to the temptation to play dirty with your SEO. Stick with relevant content and helpful backlinks and you’ll be fine in the long run.