When Google was created 20 years ago its competition included AltaVista, Infoseek and Lycos. However, Google prevailed for two reasons. Firstly, Google did not turn its home page into a ‘portal’ for the internet – like many search engines of the time, instead, Google focused on its core function of providing the best search experience.
Secondly, Google was a pioneer in using links as a way of evaluating the quality of a web page, through its PageRank algorithm.
Links work in a way that is similar to the citations that are used in academic literature; it is a way that one web page can endorse another. Pages with lots of links, especially ones from authoritative pages, were assumed to be better than those with fewer links – and through this ranking system, Google was able to provide high quality search results.
The process of link building was born, and SEOs began focussing on getting the best quality links for their sites. Early on, link builders would simply ask for another website to link to them, which was normally accepted in return for a reciprocal link. However, thanks to content skeptics, corporate policies and fake news, link building has become a more complex task.
Today, link builders focus on making high quality content that stands out from the sea of online content, as good content will get placed, attract links and drive people back to the client’s business. This process can be broken down into four steps, as follows:
Use business goals to identify opportunities for content themes and types, don’t just ‘hope’ that your content will be relevant and popular.
Identify Core Topic Themes
Prioritise content that will help to achieve the business’s goals whilst also being relevant and resonant with the target audience. Keyword research tools can help to identify and segment topics based on user interest, which can be used to create a data-backed strategy to guide content/link building efforts that are guided by the business objectives and keywords.
Find Host Content Gaps
Content gap analysis on larger link opportunities will identify what content is already on the site, what is a success, what is missing and where you can improve.
Create Linkable Content
Aim to have your content shared by others, not just get placed. The content must be worthy of links and shares, which often means including a strong hook, original research, compelling visuals and inherent resources.