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September 11, 2013

Priming Your Link Building Strategy for 2013

We are now more than half-way through 2013, so it is as an appropriate time as any to look back and see how things have changed on the SEO scene so far this year and begin reassessing and priming a strategy for the rest of the year (and beyond).

The past two years have dropped a whirlwind of new factors and problems on Internet marketers who want to manipulate search, as Google has fielded more and more attempts to bullet-proof its algorithm. Quick SEO results are no longer as easy as before (if even possible), and those who focus on link-building to better their search engine ranking have to think long-term if they want to see results. With that in mind, here is a guide to priming your link-building strategy for the rest of 2013.

Guest posting (the right way)

Guest posting was once seen as one of the more respectable ways to build links on the Internet, and seemingly provided a win-win situation for both blogs and clients. However, the popularity of guest posting as a link building strategy has also served to undermine it. Guest posting is increasingly becoming more spammy than before, as more and more websites pop up that exist just to service guest posts. When this happens, the quality of content drops. With all that in mind, you should be reassessing your link building strategy. Yes, guest posts are still the easiest and most effective way to build links in 2013 — but there is a catch. If you want to avoid penalties and actually derive some benefit from guest posts, these posts need to actually contain quality content and be on quality websites.

This presents a massive problem for SEO companies and their clients because there seems to be very little middle ground. Guest posts either tend to be of a very low quality (in terms of both the content and the website they are posted on) or very high quality (which in terms of writing costs, tend to be rather expensive). Convincing the quality websites to accept guest posts can be a difficult task even if you do have quality content, because they are often harassed by other markets who have either a poor grasp of Internet marketing or worse, a poor grasp of English (and sometimes even both). Building relationships, getting great content and making your outreach as professional as possible is all important to making sure that your guest posts are as successful as they can be.

Going local

Google is focusing more and more on making search more local and relevant, which is excellent news for websites that focus on a certain locality. This does, however, mean that we need a massive paradigm shift in how we build links for locality-focused websites. The geographic dispersion of links matters, and the value Google places on them will probably grow in 2013 and beyond. By finding websites in the same literal neighborhood as your client’s website  to link to, you will see a massive difference. Simply put: local search matters.

Perhaps the problem for localization is that not all websites have a local focus and, therefore, cannot benefit from Google’s obsession with it as a factor. However, if it does apply to you, then you need to be capitalizing on it right now.

Managing the social hype

While Google continues to deny that Google+ has any direct affect on ranks, there is still evidence that social mentions are (even right now) being primed to become a major determining factor for SERPs. Managing the hype related to how social media and search engine optimization fit together is difficult, but for now they should be seen as complimentary goals for any website wanting to maximize its marketing strategy. A decent social media presence has value in and of itself, so it should be something you focus on regardless of its effect on SEO. If your good social media standing just so happens to benefit your link building strategy, then it’s a win-win.

Overcoming poor quality and spam

While almost all SEO and Internet marketing companies have moved away from black-hat spam techniques, they can sometimes still be tripped up by focusing on quantity and not quality. Google’s algorithm is getting smarter and sharper, and the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to focus on quality links and content. That might not be the news that SEO companies or their clients want to hear: quality takes more time, and frankly more money. Yet quality matters, and that is exactly why quality should be the defining word for any link-building strategy in the rest of 2013.

Lilly Sheperd is a freelance writer for various technology and SEO articles. Nowadays she is writing on behalf her spare time she also enjoys learning about graphic and web design.