SEO Link Building Do's & Don'ts
On this week's podcast, I chat with Ed about whether link building for SEO is still relevant (hint, it is), and what some good and bad practices are when you are building links in 2018.
Giovanni Gallucci: The first few weeks that I've been chatting with you guys, we've been talking mainly about social media and about Facebook. And so I wanna flip the table here a little bit and let's move over from the social side over to the good old fashion search engine optimization in Google in particular.
Ed: Giovanni, not to just break in there for a second, which I just did anyway, but a lot of people have issues with SEO, they think that it maybe some magic fairy dust or something like that. Obviously, you can just spill a lot of that today especially for people like me who don't really understand it, 'cause it is pretty complicated, so let us have it man.
GG: The best way that I can describe SEO for people who think that it's fairy dust, if you've got an e-commerce site on the web then it's fairly easy to measure the results of the efforts that you put out to make sure that you rank well in SEO. When you've got something where you're doing either services or you're doing point of sale that is in a brick and mortar establishment then it's a little bit more difficult to tie the action of doing the SEO on the marketing to the actual sale of a product or service. Not impossible, there's certainly plenty of indicators that can tell you whether or not you're moving in the right direction. One thing that I... And we can talk about that stuff more in depth. You bring something up that's interesting here about understanding what it is and whether or not it's relevant for your business and your product or service. I want to get a little bit into the weeds today and talk about one thing specifically that came up this past week when I was speaking to a client. And that has to do with links on the internet. One of the oldest tactics in search engine optimization, from the very beginning of this becoming an industry was developing links from one's website over to your website in order to give Google an indication of the value of your content and whether or not you're reputable or not.
Now, in this day and age when we're talking about Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram and Twitter and all these other stuff all the time, a lot of the things that are tried and true foundational marketing techniques online, it's not that they necessarily lose favor, but they're just not as sexy to talk about anymore. We forget about the fact that there are things you need to be doing that are very foundational to your digital marketing that... Right now in 2018, one of the hottest topics in online marketing is AI and chatbots on Facebook in different groups. And when people come to me and they wanna talk about that, the first thing I ask is, "Is your search engine optimization in line? Do you have an email marketing list, are you developing out that email marketing list? How is your general customer service?"
There're so many other things that are foundational to having a healthy business and a healthy brand before you jump all the way over to talking about chatbots on Facebook that I wanted to come back and say, let's talk about links, one of the most basic things you do online in your digital marketing. And I wanted to tell, especially with the audience here that you guys and gals are business owners and CEOs, you guys aren't digging the ditch with this stuff. But I wanna give you some things that you can go to the folks that you have doing the work for you and ask them some intelligent questions about what they're doing for you in your business and get back hopefully, some intelligent answers about either A, we don't do it anymore 'cause it's not fun, or B, yeah, we're doing that and here's the results of it.
So let's talk about links today. Links are what we call off-page SEO. Off-page means there are things that happen outside of your website. Now, there are four, or actually three main things you wanna look for when you have a website that links from the internet over to your website. Number one and most important is the quality of the link. I would much rather have a link from an article talking about something in my industry from the New York Times than I would from the Cincinnati picayune dispatch whatever. Not that the folks in Cincinnati don't write great journalism, but a localized newspaper like that is not gonna be viewed nearly with the same authority as the New York Times will. So quality is number one. Number two is gonna be the text. The words that are used in that link that go from the other website to your website need to be descriptive of the product or services or something that relates to your business. Now, if someone's gonna link to you and they are gonna use your company name and the link, I'm not gonna tell them no, but if I am in cryptocurrencies, I would much rather, much rather have that link be from the phrase "cryptocurrency provider" than I would from the name of my company because if somebody knows the name of my company, they already know how to find me.
Ed: So what you're saying is there's a science and an art to using the right words for those links?
GG: There absolutely is, and we can get into a whole discussion about how do you find what those key words are. The short answer is find a phrase that describes what you do as opposed to the name of your business. You're gonna be better of because that phrase that describes what you do is a signal to Google that says you're an authority in that area and that's the golden ticket. Number three, the thing we wanna look for is sheer numbers. Once I take care of quality and once I'm able to define the text that people link to me at, I want as many of those high quality relevant links as I can get and make no mistake. One link from The New York Times is much, much better than 100 links from Joe's blog who sits in his basement typing on his blog that only his mom reads.
Okay? I don't care how many free cheap links you can get. They actually can hurt you, because Google knows that that website is trash and you're hanging out in that neighborhood and Google assumes that you're going to assume that same kind of content. You don't want those links and when you get into advanced kind of link building and search engine optimization, you want someone to spend some of their time trying to tell Google, "I know these people link to me, but we don't approve of that link." You don't have to go tell them to take the link down, but there is a way for you to tell Google, "Don't give me credit for that link." And it's funny how you can have an entire part of your marketing plan that disassociates yourself with stuff on the internet that can help you in the search results. And that gets into the two big things you don't want to have; you never wanna pay for a link. I don't care where it comes from. Google knows when you pay for a link and they will blacklist you. You will not be in the Google database at all and if they see you do this, and they'll warn you a couple of times, but if you keep doing it, they'll just kick you out of the database and you'll end up being invisible on the web.
And number two, you wanna make sure that you're not going out and getting spammy stuff. And so, what's a spam link? A spam link is you hire an intern to run around the internet leaving comments on blogs that have links back to your website. A link inside of a comment on a blog does not equal a link in Google's eyes. It equals spam.
Ed: So what you're saying is, in the Google algorithm, they have the ability to discriminate what they consider to be information that's not necessarily germane to what you're trying to accomplish?
GG: Absolutely, and they can discriminate based upon the quality, based upon the neighborhood of the website. They can look and see if they have identified one website as being spammy. They know that if other website sit on that same physical computer, that server, they will assume that the rest of those websites are part of the same enterprise, and they will lose credibility as well.
Ed: They could track the IP address of that link and discern it?
GG: They can track the address of the individual network card in the machine.
GG: 'Cause you're gonna have 100 websites using a similar IP address, but each computer that has a separate network card in it, there's a MAC address in that card that Google knows exactly what physical computer that website's sitting on.
Ed: That's kind of scary. Giovanni, we have about 30 seconds to a minute left here. What can people do to avoid these kind of mistakes when they're using SEO program?
GG: The number one thing is you never ever, ever, ever hire a person or a service that promises guaranteed results or promises a high volume of results in a short amount of time. That is the biggest red flag you need to look out for. You play the long game, you do things correctly and you have patience. That's the trick. And the trick is, there is no trick. Anything that's short-term that is a big value in a big game, you will lose it and it will be painful when you lose it.