Penguin, Panda, Over Optimization, what the heck is going on with my rankings you might ask. Well, I believe it really just boils down to search engine quality control. With a search engine, “quality” means “relevancy.” The search engine with the most relevant results wins the search battle. So don’t fret or scratch a hole in your scalp over these things that happen at search engines whether they be algorithmic or database updates.
A lot of people have contacted me this year (2012) asking if I think their site or domain has been penalized. And the answer is usually, without doing a costly audit it is hard to tell but I think it is safe to assume that your site is suffering from some sort of devaluation, which could be penalty driven, but it is more likely suffering from a deficiency.
A deficiency? Like not enough vitamins? Yes, but not enough of what is really important these days. One example is that most sites that are hurting in search rankings are suffering from a link deficiency, that is, most of their competitors have a lot more inbound links than they do. So, should they run out and hire a link building company to fix this? I’ve always discouraged doing that! And now it looks like many who have done that suffer even more because their in-bound link (IBL) profiles look artificial and this is an even greater problem than the original link deficiency was.
I am also asked, should we go submit the site to a bunch of directories? My answer is, that is not the solution. There are only a handful of directories worth the effort to get into any more based on the teensy bit-o-link-juice they will provide you.
I’ve always been a proponent of the “earned link!” If you worked with me even 7-8 years ago you heard this as part of my advice. These earned links are not solicited, purchased, negotiated or reciprocated and more often than not they will come from a site that is either related to yours or at least share some type of affinity with yours.
So, how do you earn links? That is the question of the day (week/month/year/decade)! In the days of old, back when traditional, folkloric SEO was a cinch and a clinch, you earned links by putting up lots of great content and kinda hoped your visitors liked it and thus, would put a link to it. This is what I started doing with my site in 2003 and it worked excellent! In fact, I have NEVER traded or bought a link, yet today I have thousands of “natural” and “earned” one way links pointing to my site. Folks have emailed me and even sent greeting cards thanking me for having such a helpful Website. And today, I thank every one of you for letting me know you like it.
Have you heard the phrase, “Content is King?” It has always been true. Content is King on the Web, except for now, with the prevalence of Social Media taking over the Web. Now you must make the shift and understand that “Quality is King!” Well, you see, you still need to make content to serve up quality. But your time should be more focused on putting up buzz-worthy content rather than bulk content.
This quality will attract the links you seek and soon begin to solve your link deficiency problems. Why? How? Because of Social Media. I run every thing I create through Social Media, especially, with a post to Facebook and making sure the post has a good link to the new content, and also Tweeting it, with a good link imbedded in the tweet. I agree with minds like Bruce Clay and Dennis Yu, who were the first people to claim that the Facebook like is the new Google link! If anyone then shares my post I get a good deep link to my new Web content (like this blog post for example) If it is also “quality” content, I will passively EARN many good links for the effort.
Do not throw your money at link acquisition any more. It is a waste of time and effort, and it is stressful, uncertain and even risky, with the potential of backfiring on you causing you to lose position rather than gain it. Why? Because “link-building” is “artificial” and one BIG thing that is certainly rewarded in organic search is “natural.” I tell my clients early on, write this down in all caps on a sticky note and put it on your computer monitor, the word is, NATURAL.
So how do you get these natural looking links to your commercial Website? Today it is easier than ever before in the history of search. It is called “Social Sharing.” If you want to be on the front edge of search any more, or in the future and you do not have a “Fortune” brand to work with, you should certainly social enable your Website (heck, even the fortune brands are jumping on this bandwagon!). That is, every page on your site, every blog post you make, needs to have share buttons so that you can help others help you build your links just because they “like” what you put up for them.
Look at any page on my site for an example of this. I was one of the first businesses I know who actually did this type of social integration for my site and I am glad I made the choice to do so early, for sure. I use share icons, including “Tweet this” and “Google+” on every page and a big fat “like box” on my homepage and “comment enabled like buttons” on every other page of my site, including my blog posts. If you want to stay ahead in this game then you should be doing this too.
So, in answer to the question, should you spend time and money building links? I say, not very much, rather spend your time and money social share enabling your platform and making new buzz worthy content. The Mayan Calendar prophesies it! Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. But please take my advice and at least give it a try. You can always revert if you disagree down the road and you have my word as a trusted advisor that it can in no way do you any harm; that is, this is truly a white-hat SEO marketing strategy and is in complete compliance with the major search engines published Webmaster Guidelines!
The only links you should pursue and negotiate for are intelligent ones, that is, links you absolutely know will help you for sure, first with good referral traffic and then with the passing of juice for SEO. The rest of your inbound links should be put on “earn” cruise control by social enabling your Website. I’ve been coaching and practicing this for three years now and finally decided to blog about it. This may be the best free advice you’ll get this year so go ahead and give it a try.
If you don’t know how to accomplish this, I can help you get it done. This would be a much better investment for your business than hiring a “link builder” and putting your business at further risk. Social enabling is NATURAL (Google and Bing respond to it), while link building is artificial (Google and Bing react to it)!
I wish you all the best in all of your endeavors!
PS. If you found this advice helpful, would you kindly share it with your friends with a Facebook like or share and/or Tweet it so your followers think you are wonderful for letting them know about it? Trust me, doing this will also help your Web marketing karma a lot!