On 14 November, I shall be running a training session for the BrightonSEO team up in Manchester. The topic is “Link Building for SEO” (Search Engine Optimisation), which - in common parlance - is basically how to attract other websites to link to yours in order to help you rise up the search rankings. Here’s a basic overview of link building for SEO.
According to Edelman’s annual ‘Trust Barometer’, the online medium that people trust more than news, or blogs, or especially brand-produced content, is search engines. This is probably because Google, Bing, and others have done a good job of improving the relevance of the results they present to users. A great deal of this is because they have gotten rid of the old spammy way of doing things, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, through a series of algorithm updates.
Nowadays, to rank highly on search, one of the key elements Google in particular looks for is diverse and authoritative inbound links, pointing at landing pages. Those links count in Google’s eyes as a ‘vote’ and links vote up your site. The more authoritative and numerous the links to your domain (either home page or a specifically-crafted landing page), the more authoritative and competitive your site will be on search engines.
The ethics of link building
Link building isn’t straightforward. The links that really help rankings are ‘follow’ links – this is the HTML code from the site linking to yours telling Google, “yes, I highly recommend this site” - while ‘no follow’ links will still drive traffic but not send a signal to Google to give the target site added prominence.
Google’s own guidelines on link building stipulate that any sponsored content – such as blogger outreach programmes – should include ‘no follow’ links and clear disclosure on the nature of the relationship.
This is where the challenge arises. How can you create content that attracts other sites to link to your content? This is where PR comes in.
PR involves the creation of a regular flow of content and stories that prominent, authoritative news sites and blogs will cover and – given the right incentive, such as a really engaging and relevant piece of content – will link to your site.
Any companies still buying links are borrowed time, as Google gets smarter at picking those off and penalising guilty sites. This means that SEOs need to get good at PR, and quick. Hence BrightonSEO is running this workshop in Manchester.
We will be covering:
- Google and link building: The role of links, why you should never buy links and Google’s approach to link building (penalties and clean-up)
- Link targeting: How to identify relevant target sites and where you want them to link to
- Digital PR: How the media and bloggers work (AKA how to earn links) – what works/what doesn’t. PR tactics for SEO
- Types of campaign – asset and content requirements
- On-site best practice
- Brainstorm – workshopping of potential campaign ideas
- Client/internal challenges and how to work across departments
- Tools and measurement, content resources and management
If you’re in the North West, come join us on 14 November. If your company is struggling with its search presence, drop me a line.