SEO

5 Link Building Predictions for 2011

There are lots of posts circulating about predictions for social media, Internet marketing, blogging, and more for 2011.  So, without further ado, let’s look at some predictions specifically for link building

1. Less use of keyword-based anchor text, more use of brand names.

With the recent penalization of sites possibly due to over-optimized anchor text, and the Mayday changes that led to brand dominance in search results, link building efforts will probably start to target brand / business names more than keyword anchor text.  This will also be especially helpful for online reputation management, as online review sites are moving up in importance as well.

2. Less focus on quantity, more focus on quality.

Google is working harder to weed out low quality sites which, in the process, will lead to the loss of links from these high volume sources.  Link building strategies should focus more on high quality, relevant linking opportunities so those links will go the distance.  Now the next question is, what will determine quality in the new year?

3. Less emphasis on PageRank, more emphasis on authority.

With the rumored death of PageRank due to the lack of updates in the last half of 2010, link valuation is turning to mozTrust, Domain Authority, and Page Authority.  I have already had clients preferring these metrics over PageRank, and I’m sure that the trend will continue.  Especially now that SEO tools are starting to incorporate mozRank and doing away with PageRank.

4. Less links to the homepage, more links to the content.

Let the link bait roar!  Content development and marketing is growing at a rapid rate, and along with it are the opportunities to build links to internal pages with amazing content instead of homepages or product pages.

5. Less concern about rankings, more concern about conversions.

More clients are starting to integrate analytics analysis into their SEO plans so instead of just getting a set number of links every month or being told that their rankings have moved from #5 to #4, they will want to hear that their conversions have increased for keywords that their clients have been searching for.  Because there is no ROI if you are building links to a keyword that has no commercial value.

Bonus one! Less need for dofollow, more need social mentions.

It’s no longer just a theory that social media is influencing search engines. Google and Bing both are considering social mentions as a part of their ranking algorithm, particularly Twitter and Facebook.  These links that used to be deemed worthless for SEO due to their nofollow value are now being counted for positive sentiment toward a brand or website.  It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that other nofollow authority sites like Wikipedia carry more weight than previously thought.

Your Link Building Predictions for 2011

Now it is your turn.  What are your link building predictions for 2011?

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Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, online marketing consultant, social media enthusiast, and author of Kikolani which covers blog marketing and blogging tips.

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58 thoughts on “5 Link Building Predictions for 2011

    1. I think the big issue is they haven’t updated in so long… seems like if it were still relevant, they’d update again. Of course, if they do, it will still be a tough competition with mozRank.

  1. Content links are always on high priority and next year is now going to be exception. My personal thinking SEO’s will still give the imortance of keyword based link.

  2. Good call, Kristi. Over the last few months since the Mayday, I’ve primarily focussed my SEO on making my sites more user-friendly as I believe SERP 2.0 is all about who is giving the most value to the searchers.

    My analytics data shows that most of my sites that rank #1 have a bounce rate of less than 30%. Those who rank below #3 have a bounce rate of 50% & above. That pretty much proves that the longer you’re able to keep your visitors (interested), the higher your ranking should be.

  3. Good call, Kristi. Over the last few months since the Mayday, I’ve primarily focussed my SEO on making my sites more user-friendly as I believe SERP 2.0 is all about who is giving the most value to the searchers.

    My analytics data shows that most of my sites that rank #1 have a bounce rate of less than 30%. Those who rank below #3 have a bounce rate of 50% & above. That pretty much proves that the longer you’re able to keep your visitors (interested), the higher your ranking should be.

  4. Well, I agree, but this is nothing new. I think we will see even more emphasis on Social Mentions. Ever since Google caffeine I see more and more links getting indexed from the “real time” social sites. Right now is a good time to focus on local and getting citation links as well.

  5. I personally think brand anchors are a white elephant. it was more about deep linking and internal anchor text usage – getting more athority, the fact the the home pages had more brand anchors is incidental

  6. Quality vs. Quantity is the most intruiging to me. A lot of new “trendy” things going on in the web design world are very low on copy and very high on functionality and progressive interfaces. I am interested to see how some of these more progressive sites rank when it seems like they may be missing some key components of SEO.

  7. Numbers 2 through 4 I think are especially important and beneficial for us in 2011. Quality over quantity was always #1 in my book and also conversions rather than rankings. We’ll see how these predictions hold up, here’s hoping!

  8. I think the social mentions should be more than a bonus – it should be at the very top of the list. Social mentions as a filter for analyzing backlink surges to a site is a powerful tool for Google et al to identify people who are simply gaming the system by buying / autogenerating tons of backlinks.

    1. True. Unfortunately, social mentions are also getting gamed – oddly enough, you can buy tweets, shares, bookmarks, etc. So the more important they become, the more they will be abused unfortunately.

  9. I don’t see why google doesn’t just remove 30 page or less thin affiliate sites from their index altogether. All of most useful sites and authoritative portals have regularly updated information and articles, e.g. bbc news, espn, wikipedia, wizardofodds, pokernews. Show me a thin 20 page site that is worth linking to out of value. I mean there aren’t any of them out there. That’s where i see SEO going, giving more value to large sites than small 20 page sites with no links to articles.

    1. I don’t know about that… there are some pretty good sites for specific niches that only have so many pages worth of content, but for anyone looking for something on a narrow topic, that is all they need, whereas the huge sites cover generalized topics but not the specifics. It just depends on the niche I guess.

  10. Don’t agree with all of them event if it make sense. unfortunately, PR will still be some sort of standard value for people exchanging or selling links so NO PR… no link, The few tests I have run have shown that bombing Google still works, so i guess people will still put some keywords in their anchor. As per the quantity Vs Quality… I will follow this advice when my BH friends will tell me to do so…

    1. I feel like the bombing thing is going out of style though… I keep hearing more and more about sites that are getting blown out of the index for a particular keyword when their strategies are either reciprocal linking or using another method of building a hoard of low quality links too quickly.

      1. I’m in agreement with your predictions, Grizzly’s saying the same thing in large part, and it makes sense that with the increased strength of the Bing/Facebook partnership, Google has to take note to stay ahead of the curve.

        Earlier in the year, there was a NY Times piece on Google admitting that Bing was their top competitor – anyhow, although Google is still on top, they’ll need to figure ways to cut down the spam incentive.

        What you’re proposing here seems to be geared towards what they’d like to move towards, if you read what they’ve been saying for a while.

        No PageRank update since April?

        MayDay / October updates…I don’t think it’s going to be business as usual, but remains to be seen.

        Great article, Kristi – I think it’s hitting the nail on the head. How quickly Google rolls out these changes – and if they tell anyone! – is another question.

  11. Cottage industry/solo SEO near-amateurs like myself find work, as focused SEO becomes essential for smaller local businesses (as they get pushed onto page 2 and 3 by better-financed big players). Sound likely? In any case, thanks, Kristi – as a self-taught novice needing clear explanations, I find that many of the posts I’ve found most helpful have had your name on them. This one included.

    1. It seems to be half and half… really it just depends on their clients goals and desires. We still have some that insist that the PR of the page they get a link on is as high or higher than their pages. Others could care the less.

  12. I strongly agree with point 1, 2 and 4. As for what I’ve written on Gail’s blog recently, and as for what I currently believe in that including trust in a campaign’s goal and implementation works best and I’m confident that it will still work in the coming year. Not really sure about point 3, because a lot are still using Google’s pagerank in determining link building standards and in prospecting link opportunities.

    1. I was surprised when I got my first mozRank only client, but when our link tracking software did away with PR and went to listing Page / Domain Authority, it seemed that PR was on the way out the door. I try to find the best of both – high PR and high authority.

  13. The Bonus item is at the top of my list IMO. The shift has been made w/the emphasis on Google Places – and those pages will probably begin to see more social link integrations especially w/the possibility of ranking recommendations and reviews…

    Nice post Kristi…all very relevant items to look for.

  14. I am a bit surprised by #1. Yes, anchor link text is abused but it is still extremely natural and informative to the SEs. Now, if you are in the “grey” area when it comes to link building, and you are throwing red flag everywhere, I could see how you may want to avoid always using target keywords.

    Thanks again for the insight, great list.

  15. Nice piece, Kristi, and could not agree with you more. Spam should be recognized for what it is: offal parts. I think you hit the bulls eye with your article.

  16. While it would be great to get a link from high pr pages, it’s not important and people shouldnt obbsess over it. Mainly whats important is that the site, content, and link is relevant to the keyword your trying to rank for. Look at quality sites like Hubs and squido, the sites themselves are generic names, but they have tens of thousands of links and more importantly, the sites content is organized very well. So you can set up a new account with a keyworded sub domain, and if you write a decent article and interlink the page decently, you can actually rank very high in a matter of a few days.

  17. I agree with most of your predictions as it is already happening this year but will be more emphasized next year. Anchor text is definitely on the way out as Google is more concern on the relation of the page that your website linked to.

  18. Thanks for the linking insights. I agree with quality more than quantity, and probably more of an influence with social media & blogs, and it will be interesting to see the short and long term effects of social media signals… especially with Google’s Hotpot (if used will it be a higher-weighted influencer?). It will be interesting to see though how Google doles out authority to those links, as not all social media links are the same. I also believe local SEO will continue to grow and be more of a factor to help the “little guy” and make more money for Google. I wonder where social media likes/links will be able to impact local results…

  19. It’s a wonder SEO’s never talk about deep, deep linking. As in linking to actual paragraphs on a page. Like you can link to a start point on a YT video.

    Deep links seem more natural to Google so I wonder do “super deep links” look even more natural.

    Love to hear your thought….

  20. Thanks for the linking insights. I agree with quality more than quantity, and probably more of an influence with social media & blogs, and it will be interesting to see the short and long term effects of social media signals… especially with Google’s Hotpot (if used will it be a higher-weighted influencer?). It will be interesting to see though how Google doles out authority to those links, as not all social media links are the same. I also believe local SEO will continue to grow and be more of a factor to help the “little guy” and make more money for Google. I wonder where social media likes/links will be able to impact local results…

  21. Hey Kristi, it seems like it’s taking time for some of the new Google algorithm changes to take effect. Recently, I was trying to rank one of my blog posts for “natural cold remedies.” The top ranking article was very poorly written and it out ranked similar posts from sites like WebMD etc.

    I took a look at the backlinks for this post and it had something like 70k internal pages pointing at it with another 200 unique domains externally. Most of the external links were from some type of link wheel exchange site or poor quality forum spam.

    I’ve also seen sites still ranking well with ‘bad seo’ techniques such as sponsored encrypted footer links etc.

  22. I’ve been applying Quality of Quantity for years now, and totally agree with you here Kristie as well as on your point about linking to other pages rather than the home page. I would link to a 2nd tier page before I link to a home page, so we’re keeping the link source and destination “on topic”