This guest post is by Mark of GiftedSEO.com.
Since Google’s recent Panda Update, the world of SEO and blogging has been buzzing, and while there have been some innocent sites caught in the crossfire, the one thing most people will agree on is that Google has once and for all let the world know that poor quality, spammy content is not okay.
A side-effect of the update is that if you have a lot of links to your site from poor-quality sources, those links probably just lost most of their value, too.
Basically, as far as SEO link building is concerned, quality is more important than ever right now. But after years of directories and article submissions, some people seem to have forgotten what a quality link actually is!
What does “good quality” even mean?
SEO has always been about trying to second-guess Google and create links and content that check all the right boxes. But sometimes, this can be taken a bit too far.
Chasing an algorithm is like chasing a carrot on a stick: every time you get close, the stick moves, and the carrot moves a step further from your grasp. Why not just aim for wherever the carrot is headed and meet it when it gets there?
If you aim for the same goal that Google is already moving towards, every future algorithm change is only going to make your blog stronger.
A world without SEO
Let’s just pretend for a minute that we don’t care about SEO or search engines at all. Before SEO existed, back when links were just links, what exactly made a link “good”?
Put another way, if you were trying to make money blogging, and SEO wasn’t in the picture, what links would you care about getting?
As I see it, the amount of relevant traffic generated by a link is the purest possible indicator of whether it’s a worthwhile link or not.
A quick analogy for the Internet
There is an actual, actionable point here: whenever you gain a new link, rather than trying to guess what the almighty Google is thinking, why not just check your own analytics and see whether you are actually getting any traffic from it?
Links are essentially the bridges of the Internet. And for some reason, people have started to worry more about making them look nice for the big guy in the sky, than about getting people safely across the water. (In this metaphor, the water is the parts of the Internet that are full of nasty spam sharks.)
This is the equivalent of a small high street business caring more about their advertisement getting some industry award than whether or not the ad actually generates any sales. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
If you don’t have it already, install Google analytics (or something similar) and start looking at where your traffic is actually coming from. You should be able see which specific sites and pages are sending you traffic. If you visit those pages, you can see the links that are sending you traffic.
By doing this, you’ll get an unparalleled insight into which links are providing you with real traffic, and which areas of your site are the most popular.
Next, look at the pages on your site that are popular, and try to figure out what you did to make them so. Also look for unpopular pages and try to improve them.
If you can learn what makes good content for your site, you can start building more of it. Any time you get a lot of links from a page, try to build on that success and repeat it.
You can also start to spend more time looking for and connecting with the sorts of people who own the types of sites that are linking to you. Ask for links if you like, but you might soon find you don’t even need to!
A final thought
SEO and link building have a bad reputation because there are a lot of ways to do it, and let’s face it, some of them are pretty scuzzy, as Mr. Cutts would say. But in my opinion SEO can and should be a positive thing.
In the last few paragraphs, I discussed what I think is a powerful new way to think about SEO. It’s not so much about pleasing the algorithm as it is about finding new ways to build real links and at the same time improve the quality of what you are offering to the Web.
What do you think about this approach? Are you already using it? How’s it going for you?
This post was written by Mark from GiftedSEO.com, a new kind of SEO company for a new Internet. We get by by helping good sites be better sites and in doing so earn the rankings they deserve.