It is becoming harder to trust people online.
With fake news and false news running rampant on all online channels as of late, you’re no longer sure of who to trust.
The ones whom you can rely on are significant and credible brands with a proven record for years. You can be sure to trust the information they spread as legitimate and trustworthy.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about small businesses who are merely starting out. Despite your earnest attempt to provide value to your target audience through your site, you will always be looked on with skepticism by people. And you can’t blame them, as doubt from your audience factors as part of your entry into the online business.
If you fancy yourself as a small business owner, then you need to dissuade skeptics by earning their trust. One way of doing this is to rank on top of Google.
As of writing, there are over 40,000 search queries performed on Google every second, which is approximately 4 billion searches a year. That’s a lot of searches, but it doesn’t mean squat if you don’t rank on top of the pile.
According to latest studies over at AWR, the top spot in Google’s organic search rankings gets roughly 30% on desktop (25% on mobile) of all clicks from users. For comparison, the second and third results clock in with 15% and 10% on desktop and mobile on average, respectively. This goes to show the importance of ranking on top of organic search because of the gap that exists between the first result and the rest.
By ranking on top of Google’s organic search, you have earned the trust of the biggest search engine in the world, not to mention all the clicks from users.
So you might be asking yourself, “what should I do to get on top of the rankings?” The answer is simple: backlinks.
While there are lots of factors that Google considers when ranking websites on organic search (site speed being one of them), arguably the biggest variable is your link profile.
The value that each link puts to the table defines the trust that Google and audience should invest in your site. Think of them as positive recommendations to your site. If someone puts in a good word for you online, their natural tendency is to link to your site so others can check it out. In principle, the more backlinks or recommendation your site can acquire, the better it is for your site.
If you have accrued lots of backlinks over time, then Google will consider your site as well-liked, which could lead to an increase in its organic search ranking. Of course, once you rank on top, you can enjoy the most clicks from Google users and drive the most organic traffic to your site.
However, building a link profile isn’t as simple as it sounds. You can’t go to every site, ask them to link back to yours, and expect them actually to do it. Conversely, not all links have equal value. Some are much more valuable than others due to different factors that govern the quality of each site.
If you want to develop a link profile that allows you to boost your search ranking on Google, then below are variables that you need to consider to help you find the best links for your site.
1. Target keyword
At the heart of every site that has successfully ranked on top of Google organic search is keyword research.
Since every search query is driven by specific keywords entered by users, you as an online business owner need to understand which keywords you need to target on to boost your rankings. That said, you need to narrow down your search for keywords within your niche as well as the pages you have on your site.
For tools, LongTailPro is one of the best in the market. It helps you mine keyword data based on different filters so you can extract the best ones to use for your site.
When choosing keywords to rank for your site, you need to understand the two concepts below.
Determining the keyword intent allows you to drill down what your users wish to achieve by typing in the search query.
Intent can be divided into two purposes: informational and transactional. The former relates to a keyword phrase with the idea of supplying users data and facts about a subject for their personal use. The latter is meant to bring users down your sales funnel because they express an interest in purchasing a product or service. Most of the transactional keywords start with “buy,” i.e. “buy basketball shoes,” “buy gaming chair,” and so on.
It is also possible that a keyword can be informational and transactional. A keyword example that covers both grounds are search phrases that start with “best,” i.e. “best basketball shoes.” Users want to know the best basketball shoes on the market so they can find out which on the list to purchase.
Finding out the intent of keywords allow you to identify the ones you should use for your site. If you are not using your site as a platform to sell something, then you need to focus on informational keywords. If you are running an eCommerce site, then your efforts must be dedicated to finding transactional keywords.
There will be keywords that will be hard to penetrate due to stiff competition. Some of the pages that rank on top of your chosen keywords have the luxury of existing years ago. We could also assume that they have build links along the way, which further puts you at a disadvantage.
However, instead of fighting an uphill battle, you can find low-hanging fruit keywords that have the least competition and therefore are much easier to rank for. The pages you will see in search results on these types of keywords may have substandard content. That’s already a gap that you can capitalize on with your content.
Instead of manually searching for each keyword or Google and analyzing the top pages, you can simply run LongTailPro to help provide you with an aggregated score for the keyword difficulty. The higher the score, the more difficult it is to rank for the keyword.
Exact match or not?
Once you have chosen your keywords, you want to use them as anchor texts to all your backlinks. This signals Google to rank your site for the anchor text. Therefore, when a user searches for your keyword, which is what you used as your anchor text, then you increase your chances of ranking on top of the organic search pile.
However, it is no longer the best practice to target on exact match keywords as your anchor text. This type of link building tactics not only disrupts the flow of the content where it is displayed, but it is also manipulative on your part since your main purpose is to increase your search ranking and not provide your audience a seamless experience. Therefore, you need to diversify your anchor text by using your brand name, partial matches, and generic terms, to name a few.
Read this post at Ahrefs to a better understanding of the role anchor texts play in link building.
When building links, you need to target sites that are related to your niche. For example, you can’t link your basketball shoes site to one about fishing. Instead, you need to find sites that are connected to basketball, i.e. urban lifestyle blogs, hip hop music, and others.
At the very least, for your link to build levity, you need to make sure that it has at least a link to page relevance. What this means is that your link offers contextual value.
A great example of a link to page relevance is Jeff Deutsch’s “Confessions of a Google Spammer” post. It’s a compelling recollection about a black hat SEO practitioner who admits to the error of his ways and has now embraced inbound marketing.
However, one thing about his post is the not-so-subtle mentions of the companies he works with.
You could look at this as the author’s way to pass some valuable link juice back to the sites since Inbound.org is an authoritative and vibrant marketing community. However, after reading the post, you can easily make a case for those links to be included in the post because they are contextually consistent with the tone of the post. Because if it didn’t, then Inbound.org could have easily taken them down.
Again, it all boils down to providing users value to your content. If you want to Google to rank your site, then you need to play by the rules by offering useful, actionable, and unobtrusive content. Site owners whom you plan on acquiring a link from will feel the same way, even if it means rejecting your link from its content.
It is important to determine whether a link on a site is dofollow or nofollow. But first, you need to understand the concept of link juice.
Authoritative sites have lots of link juice that have accumulated through an effective link building strategy. What you want is to draw some of that link juice down to your site by acquiring backlinks from them. By successfully getting links from authoritative sites, you can eventually become just as reliable as they are.
However, not all authoritative sites pass link juice. There are others that set all their outbound links to “nofollow,” which allows them to keep all their link juice, so those with backlinks on the site will not benefit from it. Some of the reasons why websites decide to set links to “nofollow” are to reduce spam and avoid search engine penalties.
Initially, you want to target sites with dofollow tags on all their links so you can funnel down its link juice to your site. Acquiring links from nofollow sites can have their benefits as well, but not from an SEO perspective.
However, if you have no link profile to show for, then targeting both types of links allows you to generate a natural and organic backlink data. Once you have diversified your link profile with an equal mix of nofollow and dofollow links, you can then focus your energies on getting more dofollow links moving forward,
If you want to build quality links to your site, then you need to ensure that it is mentioned or featured on quality content as well. This can be done by referring to the best on-page SEO practices detailed in this Backlinko post.
Below are some of the more important concepts that you need to take away from the resource page:
- More words, better content– Assuming that the site you plan on linking to are determined to provide the best and most useful content in their niche, then you should look for a way to get featured there. The minimum word count for quality is 800 words, but why do the minimum if they can take it to the next level of 2,000 words? In fact, all of the pages that rank on the first page have at least 2,000 words in their content.
- Cutting edge design– Having a responsive site design that adjusts to the user’s screen resolution and a fast-loading site are critical to a site’s SEO success. The sites that you should target must observe the practices mentioned above so you can have a better chance of reaching your target audience. Also, the site design should have a unique theme and layout that separates itself from the rest and not generic and bland ones you see from others.
- Proven track record of excellent content– People are compelled towards a site that provides the best value for their business. If the site has lots of social shares and interaction with its readers from its past blog posts, then it’s a sure shot that getting your link mentioned to these pages will greatly help expose your site to lots of people, thus increasing your chances at drawing more traffic.
Keep these in mind when choosing where to acquire links for your site, so you not only maximize your chances at getting seen by your potential clients but also increase your ranking in organic search.
4. Quality of site
When prospective for link partners, you need to consider the quality of the site in general. While the content published by sites is a great indicator in itself of determining the link equity you can draw, there are other factors that you need to consider when scouting for link prospects.
Aside from on-page SEO practices discussed above, the site also needs to practice white hat off-page optimization strategies. In other words, the site must have an impressive link profile with links from equally authoritative sites. Neil Patel goes in depth with off-page SEO in this post.
Of course, you simply cannot harvest all these information yourself since that would take more than enough time and effort on your end. However, you can rely on two tools to help you determine whether you should link to a particular site or not.
Moz’s Open Site Explorer is a place where you can extract a site’s Domain Authority (DA), which is the aggregate score that Moz provides for determining a site’s level of importance. The higher the DA, the more reason you should link to that particular site.
If you signed up to its premium subscription tool, it also gives you an overview of the site’s backlink profile. You can use the information seen here to help you perform competitive analysis so you can poach links of your competitors.
Another set of factors to look into is MajesticSEO’s Flow Metrics – the Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF). The former provides a score of a page’s influence. The latter gives the figure of a page’s trustworthiness based on the quantity of how reliable the sites linking to it are. To compute for a site’s Trust Ratio (TR), you need to divide TF over CF. A site will close 1 TR is considered a good site to link to.
Gathering both indices for a site allows you to determine which sites to reach out and target. This ensures that you will be able to link to high-quality sites that can make a positive impact on your organic search rankings.
The process of building a link profile can be long-winded and complicated. However, you need to keep this word in mind to be able to get links from authoritative sites: trust.
By presenting your site as trustworthy and legitimate through the creation of link bait and evergreen content that your audience will love, you can be sure that authoritative sites will link to your site as well. The process is two-fold: give them a reason why they should link to your site and they will. Once you put trust in the forefront of your site, then you can a link profile that will help raise your organic search rankings on Google.