For as long as SEO has been a viable business investment, links have been the currency. Even as the emphasis has transitioned from the quantity of those links to the quality, building a site with a solid link structure is still the focus of every SEO professional.
That may be changing.
Google’s Matt Cutts – the go-to guy for search engine prophecies – recently confirmed that the company has been testing search algorithms that rely less on links. While Google is undoubtedly testing all kinds of things all of the time, this would be a seismic shift in the way it calculates search rankings and something for which businesses small and large need to prepare.
Preparing for Life After Links
Thankfully many of the preparations that businesses must make are already in the works, as Google has frequently hinted that quality of content is now promoted and low quality links punished. SEO professionals too have adjusted their services to place more emphasis on content marketing.
Still, some may not have that memo or, worse, could be in the clutches of an unscrupulous “guru” who continues to focus on mass link building methods. If so, it’s time to dump that zero and be your own SEO hero!
These are some of the steps business owners can take to develop a site that’s less reliant on links:
- Write content for people first, search engines (a distant) second.
- Build a reputation for expertise in specific fields and have authors who represent each of them. Ensure they use and share site content on important social networks like Google+ (of course) and Facebook.
- Hire a writer to help craft content that’s relevant and resonates with your audience.
- Focus more on distribution of content and building repeat visits to your site. Traffic and social media indicators will continue to play a prominent role in ranking well.
- Vary content types wherever possible, including video, audio, and posts packed with rich visuals.
A Matter of Time
Realistically, the value of links to search engine results will remain for several years at least. So while this isn’t red alert status for your business, it is the right time to start shifting away from a love of links to a crush on content.
The likely transition will see each Google algorithm update place added weight on inputs such as social signals, site popularity, audience participation and feedback, and various other factors that are rooted in the value your site adds for the reader.
The bottom line for business owners?
Continue to develop a web presence that is a must-have resource for your target market. In the end, Google just wants to satisfy its customer that it has found the best possible site for them. Your goal should be much the same.
Steve B is a freelance writer and content marketing consultant who lives in Brooklyn, hails from England, and harbors a secret scribe’s crush on Paris. He believes in the inevitable domination of Google but isn’t ready to give in to the machines just yet.