February 2014 Update in SEO – Earning Links

This past month, there was a lot content written about link analysis, link removals and link building.  In this post I wanted to share with you “Link Earning”, in 2014, companies want to earn links.  This was always the case but in the past as you know, people have been naughty and bought links.

Before you can earn links, it is important to analyse your old links.  In a post last July, I wrote about How to Recover From an Unnatural Link Penalty. Jon Ball wrote a very interesting post earlier this month on Search Engine Land about back link clean up.  As Jon mentioned, only clean up your links if:

1. You have received a manual penalty or an unnatural links warning in Google Webmaster Tools

2. Your site is not ranking high as it used to which may be due to an algorithmic penalty

There are lots of tools and blogs to help you see if your site has been affected by a penalty.  For example, look at your analytics.  Has there been a drop when the algorithm changed?  Moz has a Google Algorithm Change History.  Jon pointed us to the Website Penalty Indicator from Hit Reach and FE International which overlays dates from Panda and Penguin.

If the top two do not affect you, then you may still want to audit your own links. If you have seen a drop in rankings, it could be because your competitors are doing better than you.  But if you know you have spammy links, you should not wait to receive a penalty, audit your links. Gradual  clean them up.

Once you are confident you do not have any spammy links, now you have a clean slate you are ready to earn great links.  How to do this?

Create Great Content

Content is still king and it will continue to be.  You only have to look at post on buzz stream to see how many times they have been shared.  People like it and so share it with others. It seems so simple, yet with the increasing competition, it can be hard to come up with sticky content.

Build Relationships

In my talk at SES about building relationships not links, I mentioned this is a long process.  It is important to think about the long term and not just about building that one link and moving on. Through my outreach in 2012, I met the founder of Global Good Group and we set up a travel site together.  I admit I have not written as much as I should have on the travel site, but now I am working freelance, I have more time to do so.


Guest Blogging

Building relationships leads me on to my next point which is guest blogging.  In January this Year, Matt Cutts wrote about the Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO , People automatically thought that guest blogging was dead. Matt Cutts then had to update his post to include the following:

“There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.”

Therefore it is still important to guest blog, but as I mentioned in point 2, look at the long term.

Include the Whole Team

At Search Love, Rand mentioned your CEO should be your biggest marketer.  Mike King also said your  whole team should be involved in link building and it should not be left to the SEO team.  Mike said there are two ways to build links – make news and build friends.   If your company is sponsoring an event, this is another opportunity to earn links.

Relevancy and Quality

As Chuck Price mentioned on Search Engine Watch, it is important to build links that are relevant to your site only and on pages where you think the readers will be interested.  It is much better to have a few links but high quality sites than many links from totally irrelevant web pages.

These points are not new but people can sometimes forget them in their bid to report on a set number of links per month to the client.  Remember if you have content that is interesting, whether that is an infographic, video or even an article, people will share it.  Just make sure you have the embed codes set up correctly for the infographics and videos so you get the credit you deserve.

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