I try to present technical issues in a way that people can easily understand them.
Of all the things in your SEO toolkit, building links should be the one thing that squarely sits on the top; it’s the proverbial key to increasing web traffic, site trust level, and a host of additional benefits. In fact, Google, the largest search engine in the world, ranks link building, content, and what they call RankBrain as their top three metrics for ranking websites. In case you are unfamiliar, RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that Google uses to sort through search results. RankBrain is also one of the many parts of Google’s overall search algorithm, which is known as Hummingbird. Other key parts include PageRank as well as a list of over 200 signals which Google uses to assist the overall algorithm in determining search results. It’s complicated sounding, but it is firmly anchored in a tried and tested scientific process.
Don't Get Lost in Cyberspace
It would be easy to get lost in the many different sub-lists which are linked to the top signals plus the sub-lists that feed the other lists and on and on and on. Google’s algorithm is massive and complex and in reality, no one except a few insiders really knows how it works completely and everything that it looks for. So, instead of trying to decipher the algorithm, focus on what is available to you as well as what can be controlled; link building, original content, quick site loading speeds, tasteful use of graphics, good programming, and did I mention original content? In analyzing how important links are, it will become obvious very quickly to a webmaster that the only way another site is going to link to your site or a post on your site is if that post or site has something great to offer. Back in the days before Google, websites were almost exclusively ranked on content alone, which gave early webmasters clear direction on how to stay in the upper echelon; publish lots of content and publish it often. Google changed everything when they entered the search-engine market by taking those early guidelines one step further when they started looking at how people linked to each site or page. That amazing revelation and unique business practice are what set Google apart from the rest of their peers and it worked so well, that it’s still being utilized today; currently, Google ranks on link quality in addition to link quantity.
Authority Trickle-Down Effect
Yet, be careful. Don’t allow yourself to get caught by a flashy e-mail offering to sell you large batches of backlinks. Chances are that they are poor quality links or even links considered bad by Google and instead of your page rank increases, it will actually decrease. Yes, Google does penalize sites with lots of bad links. Earlier in the piece, the term PageRank was introduced as a key part of the algorithm. In easy to understand terms, all pages rank somewhere on the spectrum, however, a handful of them are much stronger than the rest of the pool. These sites are your targets; your holy grail so to speak for increasing your ranking. The stronger a site, the more expertise people associate with it. It’s called “Authority.” Links from pages with high authority ranking pass some of that authority to your site when the connection is made. Consider this example: If the Drudge Report linked to your personal blog because you had a very impactful and original post, your traffic would increase exponentially for starters; benefitting your bottom line hopefully. But in the process, Google would bump your site up in the credibility category since a prestigious site found your content strong enough to create the link in the first place. You could easily transform your entire site audience with that single link.
The Extras Help to Create Better Postings
So, now that we understand that quality links are the target, we can shift gears to look at how to find those great links. Here’s where the broken-record syndrome will once again rear its head. Churning out volumes of original and high quality content won’t lead you into the promised-land all by themselves. You need to ensure your postings have high-quality graphics or other types of visual inserts such as relevant video material, graphs, charts, or anything else that visually assists your text assets. It’s also an added bonus if those inserts are original; think about how video footage from eyewitnesses to a major event rapidly circulates across the internet, or original research and findings from an experiment impacts the scientific community. Many news sites are focused on getting stories printed quickly to take advantage of the moment and they don’t always have the time to do research. If they can find your research and its ironclad, then you’ll have a great chance to get a backlink and possibly more. Of course, even if you follow these guidelines, the links might not come as quickly or easily as you’d like them to. There are many “next-step” options you can take if you hit this juncture, such as starting a self-promotion campaign. It’s hard work, and involves you reaching out to sites directly through e-mail or phone to let them know you have content that they might find interesting. You can also try to get your site reviewed or get yourself interviewed which will help spread the word, plus it never helps to get additional publicity for what you are trying to accomplish.
If you’re serious about building a site with longevity and credibility, then link building is essential. Just remember that it’s not magic and most-likely won’t happen overnight; unless of course you get super lucky and capture a flying saucer landing in your backyard on video or something else that borders on “never gonna happen.” Additionally it’s important that you keep current on the changes that seem to pop up out of nowhere from Google. When they change, you too need to change.
Augustine A Zavala from Texas on September 27, 2017:
Outstanding resource for traffic generation. A must for people like us on HP.
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 15, 2017:
Very good info here, Ralph. We all wish we knew exactly how Google works, but any snippet we can gain is helpful.