Guest post by Molly Jones.
Link building is one of the best ways to both increase your website’s authority (which helps with SEO) and get your brand more widely recognized within your niche. As people increasingly rely on their mobile phones, mobile searches have now overtaken desktop searches. So it’s more important than ever to ensure your website ranks highly for relevant keywords.
What does link building really mean in 2017?
The days when a website could rank well based purely on a large number of links (regardless of quality) are long past. Link building today, also sometimes referred to as digital PR and outreach, is an SEO tactic with the aim to increase page ranking by “earning” backlinks from high-authority websites (a.k.a. white hat link building) as well as linking out to high quality sites. Gaining quality links requires building strong relationships with bloggers and websites relevant to your niche.
When you link to other websites, ensure it is a useful link. The website’s domain authority and trust rank should be higher or the same as your own site. You should always ensure the website relates to your brand and what you offer as this will communicate to Google what and who you are as a brand.
Link building can be a timely and costly process; depending on your market niche and the competitiveness of your keywords, it can take considerable time to see improvement. In addition, Google’s algorithm continues to get “smarter” and so the way Google recognizes backlinks is changing.
How is Google changing the way link building needs to work?
Google is constantly releasing updates that effect the way link building helps your page rankings. It used to be that low-quality links simply had a low impact on page rankings, if not ignored completely (or, going further back, even being helpful!). Now, however, low quality links can negatively affect your page rankings.
Since 2012 (when Google first rolled out Penguin) these changes have been become more and more limiting; it is now much harder to help your site rankings improve through mass outreach or guest blogging alone. As Penguin continues to mature, filters are getting increasingly better at catching—and penalizing—spam links.
This means that websites need to be much more vigilant in their approach to link building, avoiding penalties, and organically and ethically growing brand awareness and therefore page rank.
Link building tactics to avoid in 2017
- Obvious paid links
When looking at different websites and blogs with link building in mind, it’s important to judge the website, not just by trust rank and domain authority but also by the “look and feel” of the page. If the page has lots of advertisements and irrelevant outbound links, you should avoid linking to the website (or trying to get a backlink there). Not only would linking to this sort of site be viewed by readers as an obvious paid link, but other outbound links on the page may affect your link’s relevancy.
- Comment spam
Commenting and joining in with relevant discussions within your niche is a good way to build traffic to your website, however every comment should be manual and different. Copy and pasting comments into hundreds of blogs will be picked up by Google as spam, for which you can face a penalty. In addition, most reputable bloggers will reject spam comments; so not only will you not get the backlink, you will damage your site’s reputation in the process.
- Links from spun content
Using software to change one of your blog posts into hundreds of “new” blog posts is a just plain flat-out bad idea. The resulting “spun” posts usually come across as confusing or incoherent. Taking these low-quality blog posts and linking them to spam blogs or low quality directories will have a compounded negative impact on your page ranking.
These are just three examples of tactics to avoid in 2017. As Google updates get more sophisticated each year, make sure you always review your site’s backlink profile and ensure links are genuine and relevant. Try to avoid posting content that states “paid content” or “sponsored post” as this suggests a non-editorial link.
The increasing use of mobile technology can put pressure on brands to increase their rankings to not “miss out” on clicks and engagement. Make sure you don’t rush valuable processes such as building relationships with bloggers and relevant industry websites, and never pay for a piece of content to be duplicated across “hundreds of high quality PR sites” (you’ve probably seen those ads) as this will negatively impact your site in the long run.
Since joining the agency in 2015, Molly Jones has specialized in digital marketing and website development. Molly works across many of POLARIS’s key accounts, ensuring clients gain continual growth. POLARIS is an SEO Agency offering a wealth of knowledge from a dedicated team of SEO and Digital Marketing experts. Follow the agency on Twitter at @PolarisLondon.