All of us faced problems the last few years, with ridiculously weak sites outranking us. Competitors ranked high in spite of using spammy links. We tried to outrank those sites with some other outlets, but this again caused the rank to drop. Some of us even went to the extent of copying the competitor strategies, but they fell flat when we used them.
With the recent algorithm changes and penalties, industry experts are looking at several new link building strategies or using the older link building techniques in new ways.
Here are some link building predictions and recommendations for 2011, which are being discussed heavily in SEO circles.
Heavy Use of Social Media Sites
We now know that social media search is powerful, and although the search engines have not done their best in this area yet, they’re certainly getting there; especially Google and Bing.
With the launch of Google’s Caffeine last year for real-time web indexing, we have seen the heavy influence it had on social media. It is confirmed that Google is now pulling Tweets directly from Twitter’s API even before they are indexed, thus reducing the latency for Twitter content. This makes anything related to Twitter pure gold as far as your link building efforts are concerned.
2011 link building predictions include search leveraging Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn connections to find results.
People will also start optimizing their social profiles like never before, working on their personal branding. Head of Digital Marketing for Adidas US, Chris Murphy recently presented the Adidas strategy at the Digital Marketing Conference. He said, instead of driving visitors to their websites, they sent them to their Facebook and YouTube pages. The tons of extra video views make sure their videos show up in more video searches, and this in turn leads to more people visiting their profiles and more fans/likes etc.
Link Building Strategies With ReTweets
Google and Bing have publicly announced that they determine the authority of people based on the number of retweets and by whom, as well as the overall profile. So, if you have plans on using Twitter or are already using it, remember it’s not about having a huge number of followers or a large number of retweets. What matters is the quality of followers and retweets from authority followers.
That means a million followers who don’t take action on your posts equals a low influence score.
So, as part of the link building predictions for the future, it should help to increase authority follows to your Twitter account, which can be done by following them or even by engaging in offering interesting information so they follow you. Be very interesting and helpful. Never ever do a link request. Treat your Twitter account like your website and have good content that provides value. Forget paying for all those Facebook fans – they’re dead!
NoFollow Links No Longer Taboo
The theory that social media is influencing search engines is a reality now, with both Google and Bing seriously considering all social media content as part of their ranking algorithm. The top social media sites to be mentioned here are Twitter and Facebook. These links that were considered worthless because they are “nofollow,” are now being looked at with a positive sentiment toward a website or a brand. With the Panda Update, even Wikipedia which is a “nofollow” authority site has been seen to carry more weight than previously thought.
This is especially true of social media links, and it is officially known that Google use links in RTs and shares as a ranking factor – and those links are No Follow ones.
Private Discussion Forums Grow In Importance
I know that link building strategies using forums are now considered spam, but this is happening due to all the spammy link promotions done on forums. However, this doesn’t make forums useless. If proper methods are used, the forum signature of a member is a good place to promote your site. While this may not always give you a worthy backlink, it offers visitors a chance to visit your website.
The main aim of joining a forum should be with the intention to contribute value and learn from the others, but of course promotion can be done too as long as it’s on the topic. If you look around you, even on the best SEO forum, people are constantly plugging their websites, tools or articles. Just be subtle and read the terms of the forums.
Focus Is More On Authority Than Page Rank
Many say that PageRank is dead, because of lack of regular updates. But I don’t agree with that as we just can’t discard PageRank yet. It still remains the metric that is still gold standard among link builders.
But now link valuation is turning to Domain Authority and Page Authority. Although, Page Authority is not the most useful metric yet, it’s slowly getting there. Getting a single incoming link from a high-authority site has been seen to be much better than multiple links from low-authority sites. This reveals how link juice is affected by domain authority and page authority and is the key to effective link building. Link building predictions suggest that the trend is expected to continue and increase in the coming years. We can now take advantage of these two metrics to evaluate link popularity.
Anchor Text Is Less Important
Google is now more concerned about the relation of the page than the website linked to. Jane Copland, a link specialist tells us that we should now start looking at non-keyword rich anchor texts. The problem with aggressive anchor text links, even when they are from good sources is the use of keywords. This risk can be reduced by diversifying with branded anchor text or just using “click here” type of links. It’s all about building a profile of trust everywhere on the Web. You must have sent hat even the best white hat links can look highly suspicious when they are filled with keywords as anchors.
Build Links With Quality Content
A major percentage of your energy should be focused on content in 2011. Most top level organizations use blogs, webinars, infographics, whitepapers, and other high quality content for link building and to attract organic links. Content marketing not only helps build natural links but also helps build leads, as well as an endorsement that the business is an authority in their field and knows what they’re talking about. Link building strategies using content marketing are here to say. Even Google Panda says so!
Diversification Of link-Building Strategies
Mix up your sources! You now want to get your links from several different types of websites, social media platforms, press release sites, blogs, directories, paid listings and forums. Whatever you do, just make sure the sites you use are genuine. A great idea when choosing your sources would be to first do some research on the reach they have and use them.
Video Marketing = More Links
While video marketing gets you links, it comes with many more benefits. Video lets your customers see the people behind the brand and not just a business without a face trying to hawk products to the masses. Ask Adidas about it. We have just mentioned how they divert their traffic to YouTube and gain excellent results.
Transparency is the key to social media marketing and even if you don’t show your face, Video marketing is great. You can score some fantastic links by coming up with some video contests or incorporating videos into your press releases creating a marketing hype. Other than YouTube, there is Vimeo for businesses and they not only provide quality links, but also cater to tech savvy and artsy audiences.
Renting Pages from Authority Sites
This is a less talked about and a unique strategy you may not have heard of before. But it can be a great link-building recommendation as we’re changing or improving our link building strategies in the future. The idea is to rent a page on a more authoritative site in your niche and add exclusively high quality content with links back to your website from that page, using the anchor text of your choice without stuffing it with keywords. This is almost like buying an advertising column in a magazine. The difference between this strategy and simple article hosting is that you request authority sites that normally don’t host other’s content. That’s the reason you have to make sure your content is top-notch. It’s not easy finding someone like that, but if you do, the benefits can be immense, as the page itself may rank very well and very quickly, for the search terms you used.
Find Competitors Abandoned Sites Links
This is yet another very unique concept that was discussed at the recent Distilled Link Building day in London, by Wil Reynolds, founder of SeerInteractive. He said his team used this tactic for years and this will work in the future too.
First check 10+ pages of SERPs for the targeted keyword and make a list of sites that are either neglected or totally abandoned. Use Open Site Explorer or Majestic and use the “Top Pages” functionality which helps you find all the resources built by those sites to earn links. All one has to do is remake those resources in updated, better quality, more user-friendly and modern versions on your own site. Now contact only the “authority” sites that linked to the old version and – you have a huge opportunity for giving life to some great content and a direct links path.
More Links To The Content Rather Than The Homepage
Let the link bait roar by building links to the internal content pages of your website instead of product pages or homepages. Content is more of a King now than ever before. Google Panda update clearly stated that sites with a huge amount of links to the home page and none to the content pages are now frowned upon.
Expert SEO’s all over are coming up with hundreds of link building predictions for 2011, based on the new Google algorithm as well as the experience of past years. If you notice, all the link building strategies we talked about here concentrate on the need for “quality.” You can continue to use all the different SEO tools to help you with your SEO and link-building as long as you ensure nothing is spammy. Quality is the key to the success of all your marketing efforts in the future, whether it’s link building or something else.