It’s not all about back links. You need quality over quantity

When I speak with clients and I do this all day a common misconception is that their SEO campaign is all about the number of back links they will receive. A common statement usually goes like this: ‘I’m currently on page 2 of Google and have been stuck there for many months, can you I pay you for some back links?’

Herein lies the issue and the problem surrounding most SEO campaigns. It’s not all about the back links. Far too many SEO agencies will simply go about building back links and think that this works, well it doesn’t and the proof of this is through the number of phone calls I get every day from people that have gone down this path and suffered the consequences. Thai is, terrible rankings!

For an effective SEO campaign, link building is only 1 component. To rely purely on this will have a detrimental affect on your site, especially if it’s left in the hands of one of the scores of thousands of dodgy SEO companies that have no idea about SEO. There are a number of other variables that need to be taken into account.

Your Back Link Profile is Vital, but there are other variables…

Let me start by clearing the air and stating that your back link profile is seriously important. It is probably one of the most effective ways to get your website ranking and we have proved this many times over in the past. Link building tells Google that you are an authority website and they should trust you which is a massive ranking signal. The more trust and authority you have, the higher your going to rank.

A great, high quality back link profile is one thing but most businesses get hung up about this and this is all they want to see. This is ‘old school’ SEO and is no longer the magic bullet. The logic behind this is simple; the more the better? Right, no this is wrong!

Google will only reward your website if it sees that your back links have been built naturally, slowly, methodically and over a gradual time period. Mass link building is not on and is a sure way to get your website flagged by Google as an attempt to spam the system and fraudulently try to manipulate the results. It’s a huge no-no and is still widely practised by a huge percentage of SEO agencies throughout Australia. Google wants to see back links that come from high authority, industry relevant websites that also have strong trust. This is what counts.

Simply put 10 000 back links from low authority sites is not as valuable as 1 link from a high authority website. You do the math and see what you need to do to create a strong link profile. If you want thousands of spammy links you better watch out for the pending Google penalty as it will hit you and boy o boy it will hit hard! Get out of the mindset that quantity is better than quality. It’s a fools dream and one perpetrated by SEO agencies that rely on these ‘black hat’ tactics as they do not know any better and do not have the resources or knowledge to attain high authority links.

What is the Google Algorithm?

This is Google’s way of sifting through the billions of web pages online and giving you the user the information you require when searching. This algorithm is designed to display the most relevant and trustworthy information so you ( the consumer) have all the information you ever need at your finger tips. It’s sophisticated, highly complicated and best of all, always changing. For us SEO companies this is what keeps us on our toes and awake at night, trying to figure out what Google is up to when its changing it’s algorithm. This algorithm is made up of thousands of individual ranking components and is designed by some of the best minds on the planet. After all this is Google and they can recruit the very best people.

Although this algorithm is diverse it can be broken down into some major components that go towards establishing website rankings.

The Hummingbird Update: this is all about the search and Google will look at keywords and phrases as well as your web page relevance to deliver results. Google will take factors like location into account as well as other on page factors on your website. So for example if your looking for ‘best surf villas in Bali’ from your desktop in Sydney you will get a list of all the villa agencies in Sydney with generic information. If your in Bali doing this same task you will get information about individual villas. It is quite specific and was a game changer in terms of delivering search results.

The Penguin Update: looks at your back link profile and will determine what links are valuable and what are spammy. If your profile is deemed to spammy then you have 2 options; prune those unnecessary invaluable links or face the consequences of the penguin. The penguin will also look at the way in which you have been building these links. Are they all pointing to one page with an emphasis on certain keywords or is there a diversity? Links from so called ‘grey hat’ or sites that are not exactly bad but are also not good, will also get an eye cast over them. If you have been over reliant on PR postings or directory websites then this will go against you. Remember, with linking it MUST be from high authority sites – anything less will be targeted by the Penguin algorithm.

The Panda Update: is the content filter and will weed out any websites for punishment that have little or no relevant copy, duplicate content or are keyword stuffing ( writing for the search engines by repeating your main core keywords in the hope of improving rankings). Poor quality on page content is not what your website visitors are looking for and Google knows this so be warned. Make sure every word written for your website is designed for the consumers engagement and not Google’s.

RankBrain is the newest kid on the block and is designed to rank websites according to what it feels that humans are searching for and delivering these results.

A point to note here that these are the main ranking updates, there are heaps more ( pigeon, caffeine and pirate) but you really should be aware of these; linking, content and on site technical specifics. These Google updates that are happening more often and these trends that started years ago are set to continue well into 2016 & 2017.

As you can see if you are only focusing on link building you are ignoring the other core ranking elements as listed above. Links are just one facet, the others are as important and need to be addressed throughout your SEO campaign.

Here’s how they all apply:

Links ARE vital and it need to be implemented a slow organic fashion. Natural link building is all about getting another website to endorse your site via a link and this has to come from a relevant source that’s in your industry. This is the difficult part and can take a long time to achieve this. This is why they are so valuable. You actually have to put the effort and hard yards into getting g these link endorsements. I know how hard I have to work to get some of these and it can take ages. You need to build online relationships with people from all over the web and nurture these. This is why SEO and rankings is time consuming as you then need to know what to do with these. A scatter gun, mass link building approach is no good and is not the way to go. Look at it this way, the harder it is to get the link, the more valuable it becomes.

Content is king and is one of the BIG 3 when it comes to Google rankings. Ensuring that your site has valuable, worthwhile, rich content is going to remind Google that you are the best in your industry and they will keep on coming around to your website to look for other interesting tit bits of information. The more Google crawls your site, the more chance you will have of getting your web content ranked. Key here is to write articles, blogs and keep on adding pages to your site. Same as I am doing here with this blog – it works, you have to trust me on this. Also, for heavens sake, don’t ever plagiarise from any other sites and pass it off as your own or try to stuff as many keywords as you can on the page. It just looks silly and will turn off customers.

Technical ‘on page’ elements are the third critical element. Your website is like a racing car and it needs to be running at peak performance the whole time if Google is going to rank it. Make sure you look at things like: page titles and descriptions, page load speed, missing or broken links, flash animation, mobile friendly (responsive sites), correct implementation of 301’s ( from old websites to new websites) as well as images and graphics. All of these must come together nicely if your site has any chance of ranking.

In conclusion

The big thing that you should get from this is that link building is only one essential part of a balanced and ethical SEO strategy. Whilst it is a good thing and over reliance on this will tip the scales against your site. Try to be as diverse and legitimate as you can be when it comes to getting on Google and building your brand or business online. This is the only way you will ever rank. Never try to game or beat the system. Google is just far too sophisticated and advanced for these trivial measures. They have seen it all before and they know every trick in the book.

5 of the Latest SEO Trends Emerging from 2016

If there is one thing you can be certain of and that’s SEO is always changing and constantly evolving. Companies that keep up with the latest trends are the ones that are going to benefit most from their Google rankings. Those that ignore these trends do so at their own peril and will unfortunately fall by the wayside when it comes to rankings.

Following is a list of what we know works when it comes to not only improving your chances of rankings but also your consumer conversion rates. Follow these latest trends and your business will be going in the right direction towards being as competitive as it can be online.

# 1. Is your website mobile friendly? This came about due to Google’s update last year and it has taken a while for businesses to realise that they either make their website mobile friendly / responsive to all devices or they will not rank. Technology has meant that mobile responsive sites are now a must have as more and more consumers search online using their mobile phones. Google woke up to this and now demands that sites that have priority on page 1 will be mobile friendly. If your current website is not displaying properly on a mobile phone then you need to take action and get this rectified immediately.

# 2. Does your website have lot’s of juicy content? Google likes nothing more than indexing and displaying in the search results new relevant and exciting copy. This is now more important than ever for two reasons; firstly to satisfy Google and secondly to give your customers something to read. This now means that every page within your website must have relevant content based on the users search. Google will not display pages that are irrelevant or full of waffle. Write for your customer base and you will be fine, thinly worded pages with little or no relevant content is going to have no benefit what so ever. You need to be adding pages to your website with informative, relevant content that actually means something. Trying to game the system by stuffing as many keywords as possible on the page in the hope that Google will reward this is childish and no longer counts. Sure, it did in days gone by and was a popular ploy to improve rankings but this is deemed ‘black hat’ and will have absolutely zero benefit.

# 3. Have industries best user experience. Yes, that’s right your website has to have the best user experience possible. This means that when a person lands on your website they will not only find it aesthetic but they will find it easy to use, navigate and be able to get where they want to go withy a minimum of fuss. This is tied in with what’s known as conversion rate optimisation and is key to ensuring your website is able to convert browsers into buyers.

An issue with user interface and conversion is that many businesses nowadays tend to opt for the free or cheap template versions for their website. This just means that you end up having a website that looks exactly like everyone else’s with little or no thought put into your customers and what they are looking for. These are conversion killers and should be avoided at all costs. Make sure, what ever you do, that you get a professionally designed website by a team that knows exactly how the user interface and customer experience or journey will affect conversion rates. Simply designing a website is no longer good enough. You need trigger points and hot spots on the site to entice action and this is an evolving process. Essentially, you need to be constantly working on your website and making sure that it’s performing at it’s peak level. Remember if your not doing this then your competition will be.

# 4. Ethical back linking campaign. Whoever you decide to partner with for your SEO needs to know one thing that’s paramount to ranking on Google. That is, you need to have a squeaky back link profile that is completely organic. Gone are the days when you could simply add a few links here and there and do this till you see results. Google is far too sophisticated for this and is looking for relevant high quality back links from seriously credible resources. Anything less that this will not suffice in the coming years and websites with dubious back link profiles will see themselves plummet in the rankings. Google is looking for sites that are very relevant to your industry niche – perhaps industry bloggers or influencers that are highly regarding will make a difference. In a nutshell, the harder it is to get the back link and the more valuable it is, the better it will be for your rankings. In terms of how this relates to your SEO agency you need to find one that understands these fundamentals and can comply with Google’s latest algorithmic changes.

# 5 Lastly, pay attention to the scams out there online. That’s right. In the SEO space there are scammers out there and there are hundreds if not thousands of them all wanti9ng your business. They will tell you almost anything that you want to hear and promise you over the moon rankings in incredibly short periods of time. Please ignore these agencies as they will use the worst type of cheap SEO tactics to boost your rankings. They are always sugar hits and are completely unsustainable. In the next couple of years as people start to wake up and learn more about SEO (as it becomes more common practice), we can only hope that they will only engage with internet marketing businesses that use ethical strategies without these ridiculous promises. We are in fact starting to see a decline in these fake offerings like: ‘no rank no pay’ or ‘we will rank you in 90 days or you do not pay’ as businesses become more SEO savvy and start to see through these scams.