THE ESSENTIAL SEO FACTOR
We all know that backlinks are the so-called “number one” factor in SEO to rank on search engines, and so, we should seek to build as many as we can. Or is that really so!? After many years on the Internet, writing a thousand articles, commenting on forums, commenting on websites, answering on Quora, searching for dead links, writing guest posts… I gave up and stopped building backlinks totally.
Some of you may be thinking, what!? Is this guy mad? How can we rank a website on search engines without actively building backlinks!? Well, the short answer is – Yes, we can rank websites on search engines without actively building backlinks. Backlinks are only one of the many ranking factors. Be patient, let me finish and show some results. Read on to find out!
LINK BUILDING IS NOT THE ONLY RANKING FACTOR
Before the narrow-minded not-so-intelligent toxic troll… things start to spew acid – I know that a ton of “SEO gurus” are still advocating the building of backlinks. But the truth is, SEO is a massive subject and endeavor. For those who do not already know, there are 2 general umbrellas under it:
- On-page SEO – Where we do things on our own website to rank better. Such as coming up with a better design, make the webpages load faster, write better content, beefing up the security, etc…
- Off-page SEO – Where we do things outside of our website to rank better. This is where building backlinks and promotions come in.
So yes, let us not be myopic, “building backlinks” is only one of the several hundreds of ranking factors; “Dedicated backlink building” alone will not help to rank a website by any means. When people are not interested in the content and navigate away after a few seconds – You are doing it wrong. That page will never rank no matter how many links you build to it.
THE SPAM LINK BUILDING PENALTY
Also, if you have been living under the rock, or maybe inside a fallout shelter since 2012 – Bad news. Search engines are on the hunt against unnatural link building. Let me just quote this one from Google’s webmaster guidelines:
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. Avoid the following techniques: Participating in link schemes.
Bing’s webmaster guidelines echoed the same:
Abusive tactics that aim to inflate the number and nature of inbound links such as links buying, participating in link schemes (link farms, link spamming and excessive link manipulation) can lead to your site being delisted from the Bing index.
If that is not good enough, there is also Google Penguin waddling around with a chainsaw against link spammers. If all of the above is not good enough to stop one from link spamming – Google has an army of reviewers. They slap manual penalties against abusers, and it will be difficult to get them to retract their decisions.
A DIFFERENT RANKING STRATEGY
Ok, after all of these – Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that backlinks are unnecessary, and they are still one of the important ranking factors. All I am saying is, stop building spammy links and risk getting yourself penalized.
It is time to rethink how to build quality links in the most intelligent and effortless way ever. This may seem like a crazy and impossible feat to achieve, but remember that there are hundreds of ranking factors?
Yes, I am talking about creating a ton of very useful content. Ones that will attract backlinks like a magnet. Just sit down, relax, and people will help you to build links to it naturally. No penalties, no sweat.
This idea may be “revolting” to the “traditional die-hard link building fans”, but think again. Quality content, user experience, relevance, EAT – Search engines are also looking at all of these major factors as well. Why give up on all of these factors just to do backlinks alone? Why not spend time optimizing all the on-page SEO that is well within your control instead?
P.S. For you guys who have heard of them – Yes, I was a Project 24 member (have not renewed). Not sponsored, but their strategies really do work. Check out the Income School YouTube Channel if you want more tips and goodies.
PROOF – THE MASSIVE TRAFFIC GROWTH
Of course, need numbers as proof. Here is how 2 of my blogs fared after the adoption of the “create good content” strategy:
No kidding, no gimmicks. Zero link building is involved… maybe except for posting infographics on Pinterest.
SO… HOW DOES THIS “MIRACLE NO BACKLINK” THING WORK?
Well, very simple – Create quality content, give people what they are looking for, answer their questions. That is what search engines are looking for, at least for Google. That said, there are a lot of “secrets” behind.
KEYWORD KEYPHRASE RESEARCH
Content is king, it all starts with research to find out which topics are popular, and which are the ones that you can actually rank. This is kind of a “riding a bicycle” thing, but I personally started with adopting the “Alphabet soup method”. Very easy to do:
- Start by navigating to Google, Bing, Yahoo, or YouTube.
- Enter your topic into the search box, append “aa” to “zz” behind it.
- Then just let the auto-suggest do the rest of the work.
- For example, a music website might want to search for “how to piano aa-zz”, “how to play piano aa-zz”, “how to guitar riff aa-zz”, etc…
- These are all topics that people actually search for – Worth your time to write articles and answer their questions.
If you want more keyword research methods, check out my other guide.
2) COMPETITION ANALYSIS
This is where things get a little hairy. After choosing the topics, some people like to use tools to determine the “good topics”. Measure the domain authority, trustworthiness, “keyword difficulty”, etc… But take note – Having tools help, but are not really that accurate. They are good for a ballpark estimate, not good as an accurate measure. What I personally do, is to actually search and “eyeball” the results.
- If the top 5 results are all the “big boys” well-established entities in your industry, forget it. It will be very difficult to knock them off. For example, “how to play piano” will be dominated by the established schools.
- If there are YouTube videos at the top, then it depends – Some topics may be well-answered by YouTubers, but there are no good written articles.
- A lot of advertisements? That means the search term/topic has good commercial value. It may be difficult to score as well.
- Product links at the top? Forget it, unless you run a multi-million dollar company. For example, “where to buy piano” will probably suggest a few online purchase links and advertisements.
So key things to look for:
- Aim for topics that are not answered properly. For example, “how to dig a hole” may have answers that say “need these tools”. But they did not go into details of digging techniques, how to dig on different types of ground, things to look out before digging (gas pipes, causing a possible landslide, etc..)
- Target not really competitive topics. For example, topics that have top search results from forums and QNA websites. Easy picking, just compile all the answers and write a guide.
- Some tools may show “low search volume”, that is not accurate. I have dozens of “low search volume” articles that stack up to very sizable traffic.
3) WRITE QUALITY CONTENT
The part that wins the game, a couple of quick tips:
- An eye-catching title that is also relevant to the chosen topic.
- Include the keyword in the title, URL, and first paragraph.
- Try to include a “quick one-line answer” in the first 3 paragraphs of the article. In bold.
- A lot of useful relevant content, at least 1500 words.
- Properly structure and section the article.
- Use tables, lists, images, and videos to help.
- The longer users stay on the page, the better it is.
I will not embarrass myself any further and point to the expert instead – ON-PAGE SEO: The Definitive Guide By Brian Dean. Yes, also remember to include plenty of useful and related links to credible sites too.
4) EXPERTISE AUTHORITATIVENESS TRUSTWORTHINESS (EAT)
Most importantly, build your EAT. Just how? This question has also baffled me for quite some time, but I came to a simple conclusion – Just continue to establish and build your online reputation.
- Having a blog is good, but having video explanations is even better. Maybe start a YouTube channel, create simple tutorial videos, channel more traffic to the blog.
- Create social accounts for the blog/website/business – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.
- The bigger the following, the more “buzz” around it, the more authority it commands.
- The longer you stick around with positive feedback, the better it is.
- In a nutshell – Rinse and repeat. Just keep on creating accurate, useful content that helps other people.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE?
Finally, EAT is not something that you can build overnight… Ranking first overnight is impossible too. It takes time, so be patient. Just how long will it take for a website to go into the “explosive growth” mode? The answer is right above in the pageviews screenshot – 8 months to 1 year. As to how much it took – I will say at least 100 solid articles.
CLOSING – BEGGING FOR LINKS?
Sorry if some took offense, but I am not shaming the above people. The point here is, I have also spent hours and hours every day to spam comments and backlinks before. How effective was it? How many people actually approved the comments? What will happen in a manual quality review? Will it get recommended or penalized?
If it is not already obvious – Spamming and begging for links is such an inefficient and risky technique. Even if it did push the ranking up a little, how long will it last? Search engines are smart enough to sniff out the bad content and kick them back down after a while.
Isn’t it wiser to just spend time creating quality content instead? Content that will continue to rank and stay on top for years. Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this guide. I hope this has helped you to better understand, inspired you to do something different instead. If you have anything to share with this guide, please feel free to comment below. Good luck and may the cyber force be with you!