Digital marketing has been around for a few years, and many companies, more or less, have a handle on the strategies that work and the ones that don’t. SEO, however, is a continually evolving industry. Companies need to adapt by using new, more effective strategies, while discarding operations rendered ineffective by Google’s constant updates and data refreshes. This is the current fate of link building, a trend of ignoring important connections that was once one of the foundations of SEO strategy. It’s common to see SEO companies routinely discard digital marketing tactics, even if they strongly recommended it months before. These days, SEO companies would rather focus on content and PR marketing rather than think about linking. Both are very reliable strategies, but as several sources are pointing out, it shouldn’t be to the detriment of link building.
The Gap Left by Ignoring Links
The biggest problem with focusing too much on content and PR is that they have completely different goals from link building. Content marketing helps build a site’s authority within an industry as it helps attract audiences within the niche and keep them coming back for more. This, however, may take time to become effective and requires a solid effort on the content creation team to deliver creative posts every time. An SEO company can definitely survive by putting all of their energy into ensuring the quality of their content. It also takes advantage of Google’s efforts to put the quality of content above everything else, which ensures a high ranking on the SERPs. But, the opportunities that businesses can pursue if they consistently track the health of their links are too good to leave behind. The most important of which is allowing people to find your quality content easily.
Looking at Internal Links
The entire process begins with the internal structure of the page itself with internal linking. Admittedly, this isn’t the most exciting part of SEO, but it is one of the most important in building a solid foundation. This is the process that lets a search engine know which pages are the highest priority, and which ones are related to each other. Not only does this make Google’s job in knowing where to rank pages simpler, it helps a site avoid the search engine’s judgment call. After all the hard work you put into creating quality content for your site, the last thing you want to do is let an algorithm decide where to place those pages in the SERP rankings at its own volition.
Most people think of internal linking like the image above. The more links a page has, the more likely it will rise to the top of the SERPs. This is why many websites create multiple links to their “de facto” page, which is most likely the home page of their websites. But, such a structure would send confusing signals to both the search engine and potential users, as neither would know where to go after the home page. Again, instead of concentrating all that potential link energy on one place, the better method would be to reflect how a user would want to navigate the website. Does the information on Page 1 relate to Page 2, and would a user even want to go from Page 1 to2 in the first place? The answer to such questions is crucial to determining the internal link structure of any website. After extrapolating such relationships to multiple pages, the final structure should look something like this:
It’s a bit chaotic to look at, but it makes more sense in practice for both users and search engines.
Leaving Options on the Table
Only when the foundation of the site’s internal linking structure is complete can SEO professionals set their sights on moving up the SERP rankings. This should be a simple enough process to complete, as structure already lets the algorithms know which pages are the most important, as well as their relations to other pages. The focus of external linking is to attract as much traffic from authoritative sites as possible. This raises the site’s credibility, as well as expands the number of ways users can reach the site. Ignoring such linking opportunities closes the door on such benefits, and webmasters will have to look for new ways to make up for the difference. Take the below image as an example of one such missed opportunity. CNN reported on Haas F1’s acquisition of a new driver for their team, which will be the first American team in decades.
The text in the box is a prime opportunity for Haas F1 to get a link from one of the most trusted and important news channels in the world towards their website. Users are more likely to discover Haas F1 from the above story than simply browsing Google for the most recent news in F1 racing. The PR team of Haas F1 definitely deserves praise for getting coverage from CNN, but they’re not securing the links that could take them to the next level. This all goes back to the main point that links are much too important for a website to pass up. The opportunities they present in both exposure and rankings are fundamental to the success of an SEO strategy. The market will decide most of the time whether a strategy will become successful or not, but tip the scales in your favor by building a strong link structure to take advantage of the quality of your content.