2012 Link Building Strategies Revealed
I wish, like all the other SEOs, the time goes back and I can mint money by ranking sites through all those automated, spammy, low quality links. This is what SEO has been till the end of 2010. After Panda updates were introduced, there was more emphasis on the quality of the content and hence a little more effort was needed to get your site ranking well by putting unique, good quality content. Blog networks, bulk profile links, automated forum and blog commenting, edu and wiki links, syndicated and spun content links have also been doing quite well till the start of 2012. However, with two recent updates in Google algorithm (namely recent Panda 3.6 and Penguin or web-spam) and how it ranks sites now, everything has changed. Lots and lots of blog networks were deindexed from Google, links were devalued, low quality pages were deindexed too, subdomains with similar content for targeting different regions lost their effectiveness and much more.
Future of SEO is not the same, old link building methodology is not working anymore. Quality is dominating the quality. Page Rank is not a deciding factor for your link as it used to be. User experience, once again, is being given the top priority. Just understanding that Google is built on users and not the websites, may solve the whole situation. Google is making changes to please its users, so if you can please those users as well, then chances are the Google is going to be on your side. If this concept is understood well, then you are going to be a great SEOr of all times, take my words for that.
Why should you change your link building strategy anyway?
With recent Google Penguin update, did you see drop in your traffic? Did you see many of your pages getting deindexed? Are you losing organic traffic? Has the Page Rank of your site dropped? If the answer to the above questions is “yes”, then most probably you are a victim of new Google algo changes and you need to revise your link building strategy in 2012. You simply can’t get away with:
- Links from pages that have no or poor quality content
- Links from irrelevant sites
- Links from spammy or over-advertised sites
- Syndicated, spun content for multiple submissions
- Poor presence of social media in your overall SEO plan
- Linking to poor quality WP blogs and Web. 2.0s that you created for generating unique links.
You have to change your 2012 link building strategy based on the changes that happened in Google post Penguin. If you are wondering who I am to tell what strategy is going to work and what not, then my simple answer is that everything I write is here is based on seeing the pattern and changes made over the past month or so to over 100 sites I manage SEO for (not alone of course, I have a full time team of 23 people), and the experience shared by many other industry experts with every change that happens in Google, and of course reading experiments of a lot of other webmasters, SEOs on different blogs/forums and the success rate. All this collectively, puts me in a good position to tell you some secrets of 2012 link building strategy, that if you follow, you sure are going to make a good improvement in your SERP and your site’s authority. Ranking through link building has become more subjective now than objective and an overall, consolidated effort needs to be in place to boost the site authority and ultimately ranking for the keywords that Google thinks your landing pages are offering.
A note about your on-page:
Before I reveal the link building strategy for 2012, I must inform you that you have to change your on-page first to comply with new changes Google has made. On top of this list stays reducing your actual keyword density to about 1% and having another 1% density of similar keywords. Meta needs to be written more properly than before. Try not to target a bunch of keywords in your title or description all together, try to make each page unique for its small set of keywords or just a single meaningful keyword and its variations. Don’t create a lot of pages of low quality content, rather put all that content together and have few pages with quality content for a better user experience. Once you have gone through all that and revised your on-page, then you are ready for a fresh link building techniques going forward.
Practical Advice on 2012 Link Building Strategy:
Here are the bullet points of a robust link building strategy this year.
- Run a link building report on your site, go through each and every link you already got and figure out (based on above discussion) which links need to be got ridden off. Some hints: the links from blog networks, pages that lost their PRs, Spammy looking links, irrelevant sites, sites that have more than 25 links on a page. Removal process can prove to be tough, but it will pay off. You can’t start a new strategy on old rogue links anyway.
- Once you have removed a fair amount of unwanted links, now it’s time to make a strategy for your future link building based on your niche, how many keywords you are targeting and the competition of those keywords. Keywords having less competition should be discarded from your link building plan and let them rank naturally based on their on-page SEO and some social bookmarking and pinging.
- Get the links only from a relevant site. If you are trying to rank for payday loans, for example, don’t make a link on a golf site. Similarly you need not find only payday specific sites, anything related to finance/economy can do. Remember, link relevancy is the single most important factor to keep you ahead of your competition.
- Chose a proper link velocity based on your site’s age and previous performance. Please understand that a haphazard link velocity pattern can raise questions and you may not get the proper benefit of those links. For new sites, link velocity needs to be very slow. For older sites, the link building pace needs to be maintained based on the previous history and your traffic, you need to get your head around it to find a best link velocity for your site.
- Anchor text distribution is going to play a major role in 2012’s link building strategy. Make sure you have more links with your landing page URLs than the anchor text. Chose varying anchor texts and long tails ones off and on to reduce over optimization penalty issues.
- Link quality in 2012 is much more important than link quantity. When I say quality, I literally mean a link that doesn’t raise any suspicion or doubts to a normal visitor if and when spotted. Link needs to be textual, meaning that the content around the link should be talking of what your target page is about. Generic comments “A great post, keep it up”, “I love this blog, keep the good work”, “Wow, I wonder why you are not more popular than this” etc are only going to spoil your linking effort in the long turn. So, instead of making 10 generic text links, it’s better to use this time creating one link that’s contextual. What this means is that you need to read what the site is talking about and give a fair, researched answer or comment to the users.
- Make a link primarily for what it’s meant for, i.e., the traffic. Do not make a link just for the sake of raising your SERP and influencing search engines. This is going to help you two folds. One that you are searching and placing links on the site that is relevant to your niche and you are going to attract some target visitors and secondly, it will sound much more natural to Google and you are going to get maximum benefit out of it.
- Linking text needs to be written keeping a user in mind and not the search engines. If you can write interesting stuff during a link building process that is related to your niche and the subject of the page, that could be a perfect link you can ever develop. Let as many changes happen as Google wants, such links are going to be in for a long haul.
- Linking source variation is as important as any of the above factors to give your links a natural feel in the eyes of search engines. If you plan on getting 10 links this month for your homepage, then divide them to web 2.0, forums, blogs, Press Release, video, social links, guest blogging, directory links etc etc.
This is the overall strategy for your 2012 link building strategy. I didn’t go into details of how to build links as that was not the scope of this article. I just wanted to pinpoint the overall strategy and how the strategy needs to be developed. Before you start linking, you need to site down and develop a master formula plan for each 100 links based on velocity, link source variation, and anchor text and divide the work accordingly. This is how we are building links post Penguin and its getting us good results.
What is it going to take?
The competition is now between you and Google. It all depends on how good you are being natural and how good you are in hiding your footprints (and ass). What do you think it’s going to take? Search and research, a lot of it and a lot of manual work. It’s not a big science, but it’s going to take much more time than it used to, because there is no automation involved.
I am looking forward to any relevant comments and your personal experiences on the link building strategies this year.