Let’s face it: authorship may have been bulldozing around for quite a while, but links are the most important ranking factor for search engines, still. SEOs are still buying links for their clients. High-authority sites are still selling do-follow sponsored links – Forbes was recently penalized for that (note, it’s been penalized in the past too); Search Engine Roundtable was also penalized doing the same (amazingly, Barry surrendered to Google this time around and no-followed all the sponsored links on his site). These are some of the many sites we know – yet there are many out there that’re selling links secretly.
Buying links is not as bad a practice as it sounds today – even the great SEO authorities like Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin supported it once – but Google wants us to have natural links only and is going out of its way to catch the transgressors (by looking at patterns, site history etc). And as Google’s search algorithm gets smarter and smarter – it’s now even tricking spammers by faking search results for a short time – it makes little sense to buy sponsored links even if the site owner promises to make that sponsored thing unlabeled.
Let’s discuss three killer link building ideas that’re also unfortunately the most ignored, for sooner or later we need to reach to a stage where we build some genuine relationships and stop fretting over what if Google gets to know about this.
Forget keywords as anchor texts
Let me first speak your mind: “here’s another noob to SEO,” “it’s easier said than done,” “wait, come again!” “horseshit!” … Ok, I understand that I might not sound irrefutable when I say forget keywords as anchor texts. But do you remember Google Penguin? Yes, the update that’s getting more and more intolerant to link spamming over time and would now penalize you even if 80% 50% of your links are suspicious.
“How would I rank then”, you ask? First, we need to make it clear that Google doesn’t hate anchors – Google loves them, read its SEO guide for starters again. Anchors are one the best ways to help Google “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Google actually hates webspam. It’d undoubtedly benefit you if you’ve diversity in your anchors and are not over optimizing them. Use your company’s name as anchor text because that’s most natural – you can at times use your URL and at the other times your keywords as well. And hey, if you’re contributing a guest post, you could even link to some of your cool stuff anywhere in it, but, of course, that should be terribly relevant.
It’s not about links, it’s about you, your business, and your brand
As SEOs, we’ve always been obsessed with links. Whenever there is a talk about SEO, most of us fascinate links from sites like Mashable, TechCrunch, Smashing Magazine, SEOmoz and even Search Engine Journal. That needs to change. Links-first approach needs to change to business-first approach, or rather relationship-first approach.
It takes time and effort for high-quality link building practices such as creating infographics, guest posts, podcasts, webinars and comics. And it’s not justifiable to belittle all that to links only. Let me explain.
Suppose you have contributed a guest post to a high-authority tech blog (say, example.com) and got your golden link. You’re, of course, excited as hell but are now shifting your attention to another great blog, another golden link. You’re now thinking in domains – one domain, one link. That’s good, but only for your link portfolio. Moreover, did you thank example.com for publishing your post? Did you even entertain the comments on your post? Did you try to push your post on social media? These are some of the things we need to take care of if we want to build relationships for life. And trust me, links will follow.
If you’ve walked uphill bare foot to get a link, Google knows that
If you give a choice to choose between 500 links from low-quality sites and one from Huffington Post, I’ll choose the latter. Why? Because numbers don’t matter anymore to search engines. Only quality and relevance do. And don’t worry, Google would sooner or later find out whether your link is hard-earned or not.
It’s better to stop obsessing over links and SEO. When we do that, we end up doing disasters, spamming. Let’s not over optimize links anymore, because letting them look as natural as they would help us in the long run, too. Let’s seek hard links, build happy relationships and help our clients do that.