Things have really changed over the past few years when it comes to Google and SEO, as they do… So how in this changed web world, do we go about getting quality backlinks?
Backlinks are just as important, but they’re infinitely harder to get than they were back in the days when you could splash out some cash for them. Nowadays they need to be solid high quality backlinks, while back in the “olden days” of website marketing, all that really mattered was how high page rank they were, and how much we could get them for.
Quality & Relevance
There was outrage among website owners back in 2005 when websites that had enjoyed high rankings on Google, and decent levels of traffic, suddenly plummeted. From the perspective of many people, Google had moved the goalposts. Anyone looking at it logically though would see that this wasn’t the case, it was simply a loophole being closed, and it’s not the fault of Google that people were so reliant on something which was obviously a loop hole.
Anyone who knows anything about anything would realise that Google weren’t going to allow a situation to remain whereby websites could climb the ranking based on how much money they had paid on backlinks… so anyone relying on that strategy should really have put some crash mats down to land on when the rug was pulled as it was inevitable.
I remember at around that time being really annoyed with a so called SEO expert that I’d hired to do some work for me as I was too busy with my business at the time to do all of the SEO work myself.
This guy had just taken the cash I gave him, kept some as profit and used the rest to simply buy backlinks – and this was at the time that everyone knew or should have known what was happening with regard to paid links. I can imagine the anger that many business people must have felt when they discovered due to their websites suddenly disappearing from Google, that the firm they had hired as web marketing experts & paid tens of thousands of dollars. were basically just buying and selling back links.
So, we can’t just buy them, that ship sailed a long time ago. We can’t use spammy link building techniques either such as link farms, and even the less spammy but more accessible linking strategies such as article syndication aren’t really worth bothering with now in most cases.
All we need to ask ourselves is, what are Google (and the other search engines) looking for when it comes to offpage factors? In other words, what is the motivation for these continual updates when it comes to how offpage factors effect the search results?
The answer is always about quality and relevance. They just want to stay ahead of the game when it comes to ensuring that the cream rises to the top, and the crap falls to the bottom.
If what they actually wanted was to ensure that the websites run by the companies with the most cash stayed towards the top of search, then they surely would have kept it the way it was pre-2005 when being at the top was about buying the most link juice.
But it’s not, they just want to ensure that their searchers get the most relevant and highest value content when they use their search engine.
So with this in mind, it’s really not all that difficult to figure out what they’re looking when it comes to offpage SEO factors. They’re using backlinks to help them gauge the quality of one webpage, based on the link being given for genuine purposes.
Voting for Yourself – Why Direct Self Initiated Backlinking Will Never Work in the Longterm.
Once you have that in mind, you can think about the options open to you as backlinking strategies, and work out which ones are likely to be the most effective.
Those that are likely to work, and to continue to work, are those which are not directly the result of an action taken by the website being linked to, what I refer to as direct self initiated backlinking.
In other words, if the backlink to your website is the result of simply something you have done directly in order to get the backlink, then it’s not likely to be an effective strategy.
Blog commenting, forum profile footer links, anything along these lines are a backlink you have given yourself, not a backlink that has been given to you based on the value that your website has to offer the readers of the linking site.
If we look at link like a vote, these kinds of strategies are basically like voting for yourself, it’s unlikely that Google is going to allow you to vote for yourself and for that to have much of an impact.
If I have a website, which has been around some time and has a decent number of readers, and I see another website that I’m really impressed with for whatever the reason may be, and I decide to write something about this website and link to the site in question, then I am giving the website a backlink based on the relevance of the site to my readers, and based on the value I believe the website will have for my readers. This, as far as I’m concerned, is what Google want.
So as far as I’m concerned any kind of direct self initiated backlinking is probably going to be more or less useless.
The only exception to this rule I would think, is social media. Creating an active social media presence is of course self initiated, but then follower engagement, follows, likes, faves, retweets etc., aren’t, and I do think from experience that effort put into social media does have the potential to impact on SEO.
When I say directly self initiated, what I mean by that is that in actual fact the majority of backlinks are self initiated via outreach, but the links that are given aren’t directly self created, the webmaster of the linking site has to decide that the link is worth giving. So I’m not saying that in order for a link to be effective you have to sit and wait for someone to link to your site, because you may be waiting a long time ;-).
So the best way to get high quality effective backlinks in 2017 in my humble opinion, is outreach. Outreach means reaching out to other websites, obviously, but the way you approach this is very important.
I get outreach emails all the time for my various websites and blogs, and I see some good approaches, and some awful ones!
Some advice on what not to do, based on some of the emails I’ve had:
- Don’t email from a Gmail, hotmail or yahoo account.
- Don’t sign off an email “Manager” or “Web Master”,
- Don’t offer to pay for a backlink.
Some advise on what to do, based on some of the better emails I’ve had:
- Do send a preview of a great infographic you have designed specifically for that website, and make it clear that this is exclusively for them and you’re not publishing it elsewhere, or a snippet of a great guest post that you have written, again solely for them.
- Do give your full name, and all contact details including your phone number. Most people will reply by email but giving a phone number kind of makes you real.
- Do follow them on Twitter, and whatever other social media platforms you both use, in advance of contacting them, and engage with them, such as retweeting and liking posts.
This is all common sense stuff really.
When it comes to the specific approach, there are several different ways you can do this, the idea is that you find some way to create a relationship with the people who you want to link to you.
It’s important to note that I say “the people”, as it’s people you’re building a relationship with, and I think that’s easy to forget at times. As long as you keep in mind that you’re building relationships with people, and that all of the normal social rules and etiquette will therefore apply just as it does in any other forms of relationship building, you shouldn’t really be able to go wrong.
Other Valid Backlinking Techniques
PR campaigns and press releases. These are a good idea, with the aim being to create something news worthy in order to get the story into news websites, you might even end up getting into Google news if you’re lucky. You can use a PR syndication service such as PR web, or a local PR specialist, the important thing is that you find a way to make the story newsworthy.
I’m a musician as well as a marketer, and back in the late 90s and early 00s I was in a band that came fairly close to getting somewhere, and one of the best things we did when it came to PR, is that we found a way to turn a run of the mill story into a news worthy story. The boring average story was that we sent our CD to a few places, and it got a few replies.
What made it different is that the people we sent the CD to, including people like Her Majesty the Queen (we got a letter back from the Queens lady in waiting), Tony Blair who was Prime Minister at the time (we got a letter from the PM), and more. We knew full well nothing would come from this other than the fact that having some kind of a response would get us in the press, and it did!
Testimonials. If you send a genuine testimonial of some kind to a business within your niche, regardless of whether it directly leads to a backlink and whether they NoFollow their links, there’s a good chance it will pay off for you some how.
It may be that they link to your site within the testimonial, and in which case yes I can imagine that Google do have a way of detecting that it’s a testimonial and devaluing the link juice to some degree based on it being self initiated, but still even if that is the case, if it’s in your niche and if it’s a popular product, there’s a chance that this will gain exposure for you and direct clicks even if it doesn’t pass linkjuice.
Even if there is no direct value from the testimonial, the value will be in the creation of a relationship. Once you’ve given them a testimonial, well first of all you’re a customer, and secondly you have given them something of value.
Don’t be Sucked in
Occasionally you will hear of amazing new backlinking strategies that promise fast huge results. Sometimes these things may actually work, or at least sound like they could work, but invariably they’re nothing but loopholes – and loopholes can shut with a bang, just ask anyone who’s websites vanished from Google back in 2005 or 2006 thanks to having relied too much on the loop hole that was paid backlinks.
I hope you found this helpful, and thanks for visiting – now go read some of my other posts, follow me on twitter and things of that nature 🙂