SEO has changed significantly during the last couple of years. Thanks to Google’s continued efforts at making search more effective and information research friendly than ever before, new algorithm changes to search ranking such as Penguin and Panda, amongst numerous others have created a search environment in which mechanical black hat tactics that revolve around algorithm manipulation no longer work nearly as effectively as they used to.
Instead, the focus now is becoming more on organic development of popularity and visible distribution amongst a base of readers and fans. One of the hallmarks of this is the process of link building.
Link Building Then vs. Now
In previous times, link building used to be something that, as an indicator of site popularity, could be simulated on the internet through spam tactics that gave the appearance of numerous other sites linking back to your own by posting backlinks on blogs, link farms and low quality content mill pages. The end result was largely artificial and showed nothing about the inherent content value of a backlinked page, but gave the impression of real popularity.
Today, this no longer applies. Thanks to its major algorithm changes, Google now scrutinizes the nature of backlinks far more carefully and will derank anything that stinks of artificial tactics or spam. Thus, site owners have been brought back to the process of building links that genuinely were organically, voluntarily shared.
What Kind of Content Gains Popularity?
What does this mean for you as a webmaster and content creator? Simply this: you now really have to create valuable content on your site. In creating this content, you are given an opportunity to demonstrate your trustworthiness, expertize and entertaining qualities. In doing those things, you can steadily build a fan base that not only avidly visits your site and raises your visitor count in doing so, but also starts sharing your content with their friends, on their social networking accounts and on their websites.
Guest Posting your Way to Backlinks
Having built enough of a reputation, or possibly even before that, you can also search for guest posting opportunities. Assuming you site has gained a certain amount of popularity and reader base within your niche, some of these visitors will more than likely be other players in the digital content landscape of your topic. You need to build relationships with them with frequent communication and rapport development. Doing this and enjoying the resulting debate gives you even more opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge to other site owners, especially influential ones.
Eventually, you can leverage this into guest posting requests; offer to write on their sites or blogs in exchange for links back to your own site. This kind of link building applied over and over again as much as possible is not only organic but also favorably viewed by Google’s algorithms and their little bots.
In short time, having built a solid content base, you can work your way up to posting on major sites under your niche’s categories or on sites specifically devoted to the general area of your niche. You can use your sites content base and visitor quantities as persuasion tools to get you posted on a major site, which will obviously be more picky about who it lets write and links to than many smaller pages.
The importance of relevance also can’t be understated. Avoid highly general sites and especially avoid content mills as a source of guest posting backlinks. They are often looked down upon as being too general, easy to backlink from and not good indicators of real quality in a site that’s been linked to.
Instead, focus your energies on pages that are related to your own content and more picky about their quality of content. These kinds of links have the most SEO value and will create a wonderful link profile that gives you long term ranking growth and visitor flow.
Content Freshness and Frequent Updates
Another highly important hallmark of building up search engine optimization through quality content and building links as well revolves around frequently creating fresh new content that is not only informative and relevant, but also ties into the latest in your niche. People are always on the lookout for new newest possible information and analysis for their searches, in almost any subject. By giving them this, you will gain an advantage over your competitors who don’t.
Although it’s true that Google still (in an example of misguided bias) still favors older, more established links for its page 1 rankings, this is slowly changing and by moving as soon as possible to have the latest content in your niche posted, sharable and indexable, you’ll increase your chances of being the first to rank highly for a given search term whenever Google decides to refresh its listings in a user query.
As a bottom line that’s more important than anything else in the link building and content SEO process, remember to make the material you post to your website rich, as unique as possible and maximally informative. Make it as relevant to your readers’ interests and urgent information needs as possible.
Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to the latest changes in white hat SEO, marketing, marketing tech and brand promotion. He also loves to read and write about subjects as varied as the idea of a location-free business, portable business management, and strategic marketing and advertising tactics. When he’s not busy writing or consulting, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico. Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn.