The state of Link Building

The state of Link Building
26 February 2014 | | Search Engine Optimisation

Addressing the state of link building, its use, relevance and application in 2014 starts by imgreslooking back at the momentous year of 2013 which saw big changes in the Google algorithm. Links, search, site content and other factors where affected last year, with some high profile sites dropping dramatically from the rankings.

2013 Fallout:

  • Panda updates – launched in 2011, this part of the algorithm was aggressively updated in 2013- aimed at lowering the rankings of ‘low quality sites’ or ‘thin sites’.
  • Penguin updates – launched in 2012, and attacking traditional link building techniques. Aimed at decreasing the search engine ranking of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically link schemes, paid for links Penalises sites using manipulative techniques to achieve high rankings.
  • Hummingbird release– a 2013 algorithm release aimed at providing users with more precise and faster query results. It means the search engine pays more attention to every word in the query, based on semantic search and focuses on the user’s intent as opposed to individual search terms. resulting in a shift away from traditional keyword focused SEO.

The above are the major ones which affect the prospects of link building in 2014.

The above now means link building in 2014 is no longer about gaining links through mass submission, paying for them or even about getting the most possible. It is all about quality, relevance and natural.

These seem like very vague terms to guide link building in 2014 compared to 4 years ago when you could arbitrarily pay a company X amount per month and enjoy gaining hundreds of links which positively affected your rankings.

That said the point needs to be made that links very much do positively affect search engine rankings. But they MUST be the right kind and gained through a natural means.

So, what is a good link I hear you ask..

It’s sort of easier to answer that one by going through what we know to be a bad link. These are surmised from an updated section titled ‘Link Schemes‘ from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. They include guest blogging, paying or selling of links, excessive link exchanges, over optimised anchor text links and low quality directory links.

One school of thought for Local SEO is to have no Link building at all!

Christ Silver Smith of Search Engine Land details this in his blog from summer 2013, he advocates natural link building, which isn’t link building at all, rather it’s about creating great content which is useful, relevant to the site (dentistry!) and is so good people want to share it. Social media is great way to promote this philosophy.

Blogging on your site is also a fantastic way of getting natural links. Networking with other local business, getting mentions on, for example, the local newspapers online presence can work very well. Not only are you proactively marketing the practice as a brand, but the link to their site will be natural and really high quality.

What do we think?

Certainly in the last two years we have seen huge changes in terms of what ranking factors are going to have the biggest impact on your site. We have taken on practices whose sites have been over optimised in terms of bad links and it’s a painful, emotional experience recovering from being dropped by Google.

Along with this, we are proud to honestly say that none of our longstanding sites suffered a penalisation during the 2013 updates. We are a white-hat-SEO  organisation, and although we are constantly looking for the next quick-fix, quick-win for our clients local SEO campaigns, we always focus on the long-term and objectively analysis the gains versus the potential losses.

Our evidence supports all of the above in that link building is no longer the be all and end all of SEO practices. There are many additional rankings factors that can affect local SEO which are fast outweighing the prevalence of links on a site in gaining those much coveted top rankings. An overall holistic approach to the Search Engine Optimisation for dental practice websites and what can ultimately return attending, paying patients in our experience works best in the short and the long term.

 

 

 

 

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