Link building has changed a lot over the past few years and, in it’s traditional sense, is no longer the go-to long term SEO strategy. Due to the widespread abuse of unnatural link building—including black hat tactics such as link farming and even more subtle approaches like Guest Post-ing—Google has made it clear that it isn’t in the best interest of marketers to continue thinking of inbound link building as the ultimate SEO method it once was.
External links pointing to your site are a figured into Moz’s measurements of your domain authority and trust, but if Google no longer places as much weight on inbound-links, how do they determine the authority of a site? It turns out brand mentions, social signals, and third party reviews have a lot to do with it.
To get more of an idea of how link building has changed, here are the set of new principles accord-ing to Moz:
• You need to offer value to deserve your links—This could be due to assets, information, prod-ucts, or services you have created.
• Whatever value you are offering needs to be placed in front of a social audience.
• Natural consistency is key—You need to deliver value regularly, not too quickly as to raise suspi-cions, but not too infrequently that you drop off the radar.
If your brand name is popping up all over the web then it is a sure sign to Google that you can be trusted. Mentions of your brand in a relevant context on external platforms—even without a link—are increasingly favoured by Google’s algorithm and can prove you are generating buzz without directly asking for it.
Although guest posting has been scrutinised by Google’s very own Matt Cutts for its exploitative link building tactics, if used correctly, guest posts are still the best way to naturally generate awareness of your brand. They provide a way to gain mentions of your brand name and start a conversation around it—without the worry of being penalised. Make sure you are posting on a di-verse range of sources and not excessively.
Social Shares and Third Party Reviews
Social credibility is playing an ever greater part in how Google ranks websites, and although this hasn’t been directly proven, studies have shown more social media mentions to correlate with higher authority and trust. And this is on top of the benefit that expanding your network has for ap-pearing in the now highly-personalised search results.
The same goes for mentions of your brand on review websites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor. Google scours such review sites to see how your brand fares in their rating systems. Encouraging your customers to leave reviews on external sites can therefore help your SEO efforts and also boost your position in the online review sphere.
Creating the odd few inbound links here and there will of course do you no harm, but as we are seeing the emphasis move away from self-built links, it is becoming a much more valuable and safer strategy to focus on attracting links based on value; Jump on board this trend now and you will starting seeing the effects in no time.