Building Backlinks in 2014

First off, I feel its incredibly important to dispel many of the myths circulating the internet and industry about backlinks.  You absolutely do not, under any circumstance, need a high volume of backlinks in order to get your website ranked on the first page of Google search results.  In fact, the majority of my highest ranking web pages have very few or no backlinks whatsoever.  So you may ask yourself then, why is it that so many webmasters and professionals in the SEO industry?  Well it’s a simple misunderstanding really.  When you do obtain a high quality backlink, the PageRank flows from that website into your page and then naturally forward to any of the other pages you’re linked to from there.  The primary problem with the backlink building obsession that many inexperienced SEO businesses have made it a primary focus when it should really be one of the last things you do to increase PageRank and in a low volume too.  Quality of quantity.

Backlinks are only one of many factors Google uses when determining the ranked order of pages in search results!  There are literally dozens of arguably other more important factors but I’m still going to touch base on some of my personal favorite ways to build great quality backlinks and how to avoid the pitfalls that most companies and SEO professionals run into when trying to jockey their website to the first page of Google search results.

Build Backlinks the Right Way:

Creating Originally Amazing Content is King

You’ve probably read this hundreds of times but original, quality content is king – key being original and quality.  Not citing or quoting another website or source out the wazoo but literally having a unique perspective and voice that lends credibility to the topic(s) you’re a subject matter expert on.  When you create content that’s one of a kind more people will cite, quote (even try to rip off) your work.  The first part is a positive, the later I trust Google discovers then invalidates, penalizes and ultimately award your website the higher rank of course.  Fair is fair, you created the content (or you didn’t if you’re the person plagiarizing) and Google is going to act appropriately.  So what’s all that have to do with backlinks?  I’m glad you asked!  Well when you’ve really nailed it and engaged your audience with great content and literature worth reading, they will cite or quote you responsibly (if they have any appreciation for your hard work) or link to your business entirely.  Typically, this is done using anchor text and so Google is provided the contextual relevance and relationship between the two sources.

Setup Verified Profiles

What about the practice of setting up authoritative, verified profiles?  What’s that look like?  Well it’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.  Time consuming, but easy to do!  Whenever you create a business its facebook page, Google+ page for business or twitter – your website or blog should reciprocate links!  It’s a simple and easy way to signal that “this is the official twitter/Google+ page/facebook of such and such business”.  This is a counted backlink that Google will typically discover, is in fact reported in Google Analytics, Referring Sites report!  If you think for one second that Google isn’t considering this data when counting backlinks, authoritativeness and where your website should ultimately be positioned, then I’m sorry to say – you’re wrong!  Yes – sometimes these are “no follows” and they don’t pass PageRank, this is true.  It doesn’t mean it’s not a factor when Google determines your websites rank.

Start Blogging Regularly Using WordPress

Start using WordPress!  Why shouldn’t you discuss the topics you want to rank for?  There are people who are incredibly passionate about the topics and content you want to appear on the first page of search results for.  Some of us talk about these topics every day, some once a week and other once a month.  Google is not only looking at the frequency, but again judging the quality of your work.  WordPress makes it easier to jump into blogging regularly!  Sure, there are a dozen different blogging platform but I’ve found WordPress the most efficient for my workflow and for the purpose of search engine optimization (SEO).

Are You Engaged With Your Audience?

When is the last time you took a moment to answer a question or provide feedback using a social network or community?  You think that doesn’t matter or count?  It does – it’s another referred visitor/traffic data source and it counts to your total referring site.  Guess what?  Those links ultimately flow through your profile and back to your website!  Surprise, social actually matters and you better not abuse it.  Not only is it important for your reputation but all that data is getting analyzed at the speed of light, literally!  How do I know?  What do you think authorship profile is verified from?  Google+.  So what’s that mean?  You need to actually leave insightful, one of a kind comments, questions and engage with others in a spam free sort of way.  I’m very involved in several SEO and AdWords communities.  Many times I’m answering questions for other agencies who need help with tips and best practices in those areas.  Why do they trust me when I’m technically “a competitor”.  Because I have nothing to hide!  None of my advice is “secret sauce”.  Google’s own Matt Cutts speaks about these best practices regularly.  Now, some of what he can and can’t say is to ensure that the triggers (or mechanisms) in the PageRank algorithm, that cause higher position in search results, don’t get abused or manipulated.  In other words what Mr. Cutts can tell you is what to do and what you shouldn’t do, but he can’t tell you exactly if a certain signal is considered important by Google because a lot of people would frankly take advantage of it and then engineers at Google have to think of yet another new way of tracking website authority or importance.  Take note, Matt just received a really high quality backlink right there, did you notice that? `( :  Whether or not he returns the favor is irrelevant because who or what you link to is just as important as building backlinks.

So in summary, stop obsessing so much about backlinks.  Start an obsession about a topic you want to be known as a subject matter expert in (for me, it’s AdWords, Analytics and SEO).   Create original, one of a kind content that people want to properly cite and study.  Start to engage with communities and your target audiences online.  It’s about genuine conversation and exchanging ideas, seriously.  This is more important than most people know.  If you’re not prepared to do these things or are unsure if you can do SEO responsibly it’s okay to hire a reputable SEO professional like myself to do it on behalf of your company.  It’s taken me over a decade to master the best practices in SEO services, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time or if you need to turn to a true expert in search engine optimization.

How NOT to Build Backlinks:

Thou Shalt Not Plagiarise

Try to understand, you’re a self published author now.  What happens if another author plagiarized a piece of work in the writing community?  Surely it would eventually be discovered and some monetary penalty would be assessed.  It’s even possible that if severe enough, that writers work would even be pulled from their distribution channels (ie: Amazon, Google Play, etc).  The same is true when you’re creating content on your website or blog, if you’re ripping off another persons work Google will eventually discover this and your rank will immediately be downgraded or removed altogether.

Thou Shalt Stop Obsessing Over Backlinks

It’s not about how many you have or even necessarily who links to you.  Why?  Because, do you really think you’re the only person clever enough to try to post anchor text from a news source or forum back to your web page?  As more people post the amount of PageRank that flows from one page to the next diminishes.  In other words, in about one week those links you spent days or hours building are going to eventually become useless.  Now you look like your spamming so Google will assess a manual penalty on your website and you will find a friendly message waiting for you in your Google Webmaster Tools.  So now what?  You have to double back and clean up all those crappy links you created – so you’ve effectively double or tripled your workload.  Nice going “SEO guy”.  How about you stick to your day job and leave the proper SEO work to a professional like me instead of trying to cheat the system Like A Boss with your bad “link building strategies”?  Seriously though, cut the Black Hat SEO tactics out and just do an honest days work for good great pay.  Don’t want to do it honestly?  Do yourself and your client a favor and just hire me instead.  Stop wasting everybody’s time with your lame link building “tactics” that do more harm than good. (end rant)

Thou Shalt Not Write Like a 5th Grader

Okay everyone, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and actually use that brain of yours!  What’s that?  You haven’t ever written before?  Okay well maybe it’s a good time to start or (heaven forbid) you should actually hire a writer that’s skilled and deserves to be paid well for really great original work.  I’m not referring to TextBroker (bleh) by the way, no offense to anyone who’s getting exploited by them – no I’m referring to real writers that are attending College for a Major or Masters in Journalism or even well established and experienced writers such as our team of professionals.   I hire part-time writers now to provide unique perspective because, guess what?  It actually matters and will influence how you rank!  So please stop writing like you’re in grade school and trust me your rank on search engines will increase.

Thou Shalt Not Use Bizarre Formatting

 Look, I’m not saying that my style of writing is text-book perfect by any means.   However; I follow an easy to digest formula that many of my readers like.  I label my sections with compelling titles and write in a way that personally, it works for me.  Find your own style – figure our how you like to write or blog and try new things now and again but the most important rule when blogging or writing, especially for people (which is who you should be writing for when doing SEO work) is that your content is legible, easy to read and digest.  I still remember picking up printed copies of Reader’s Digest as a kid and many times I use that as my inspiration when writing and formatting my articles.  Print is still king in layout in many instances if you ask me!  Now granted, some print to digital have lost a lot of their “umph” in translation – but go to your local library and find yourself old copies of Reader’s Digest or National Geographic and learn how your content should be formatted for reader’s attention.  I swear that this matters when you’re doing SEO work for customers and it does influence whether of not somebody is going to backlink to your page.  You think that’s going to happen as often if your page is an absolute mess?  I think not…

Anyway, the thing s that you shouldn’t do are just as, possibly even more, important then what you should be doing to build backlinks effectively.  I swear to you that going out and building any quantity of backlinks will get outranked by quality content any day of the week.  I’ll take on any SEO in a challenge who claims otherwise.  MY content will not only outrank yours but it will stay on the first page of Google search results longer.  I really hope these tips about building backlinks in 2014, help you as a professional SEO or small business owner trying to do it yourself.  If you need help, contact me.  I provide fixed rate services that are incredibly reasonably priced and typically a fraction of what other businesses charge.  I’m an honest down to earth guy just trying to make a good living for my family, seriously…

Thanks for reading!  What would you like to see more tips for on my blog?  Please give me ideas and ask questions.  Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply!

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8 Responses

  1. As a website in recovery and staying away from anything that requires “creating” or requesting backlinks, we have take the useful content method you speak of. As a promotional products company, we are posting various idea guides and how-to articles as well as free downloads for visitors to use and hopefully link to us or bookmark.

  2. Great article and very true. Well researched, well written, original content is the right thing to do for our clients and you just confirmed that in this post. Thank You

  3. This is great content Andrew. As you state in your words, great content is king and ripping off others content will catch up to you quickly. I am happy to share good posts with others we should all want each author to receive the credit due for good work. Thanks for posting.

  4. Your the real deal Andrew, your knowledge of online Marketing as a hole is fenomenal! People have to give credit where credit is due and like Jamie says people should listen to what you have to say.

  5. Super article. What you’re writing about is Semantic link building or Semantic Optimization. You hit the nail on the head regarding backlinks and anyone new to SEO should be held down and forced to read this post….(or just say please).

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