We can spend all day optimizing our pages for keywords that we researched for days and never rank content on Google Search. Its just the cold hard fact that in SEO onpage optimization is the easiest thing and it used to work in the 1990s … heck back then you could keyword stuff and just repeat the same phrase enough in the background and you’d get some traction. Yes, SEO is dead … if thats the SEO you are using.
Backlinks moved in and added some credence to the claims that our content should rank for this or that keyword. It made sense, each site that links to you with the anchor text including your keyword was that site basically vouching for your content. If thats all you think backlinks are then … Yes, SEO is dead … simply having a ton of links to your site isn’t a sure fire way to demonstrate that your content is rank worthy anymore.
Backlinks created a storm of opportunity in SEO for gaming the system and stacking the deck. I love telling people about the Google Bomb Miserable Failure and how it defined George Bush in 2004. Or the story of the downfall of JCPenny who mysteriously ranked number one for all manner of their products until Google took manual action and basically they have never recovered. Those bring me to these games we developed in an effort to fool Google into making us number one in SERPs.
Link Building Schemes
Everything I’m going to mention below in this discussions is a link building scheme. Just like buying multiple domains and having them all for one business, some call it a multi-domain strategy, all of these are understood to be below the belt with Google penalties in the wait. But thats not exactly true, I strongly think theres a time and place for each of these tools today and they do all still work, it’s how you use them and why.
Anything done to increase backlinks is a link building scheme, thats basically the definition of it. Which is why I roll my eyes when a client is interviewing me for backlink building and says “white hat only” … that means content improvement only. Otherwise its all a scheme for building backlinks.
PBN Private Blog Networks in 2019
Backlinks are not dead. You just cant have links pointing to you from irrelevant sites that have no purpose or traffic anymore. Thats actually good and its making searches useful again.
But what you may call a PBN may be a workshop for testing, what if I as a high school english teacher assigned my 150 students to create blogs and made their homework to discuss the assigned books I’ve given them for the year? They’ll all point to the same links likely. Is that a Private Blog Network? If you feel it is then are we saying that the students work, their content, is not going to be of value to someone else searching for that same book?
In the easiest terms a true PBN is simply a site thats up that has no real purpose other than to link to other sites. You can spot them when you see them. I’d argue that the example of the students I made is not one and its more so the intent of the author. The student example though likely falls into most people’s definition of a link building scheme.
Press Releases for Backlinks
Sometime around the time PBNs were being hunted like vampires for de-indexing someone realized they could put links on publication websites with the ease of a press release. They likely did it several times and each time it was a little less relevant … not newsworthy what they were announcing.
“Such And Such Company hires Dan Guy” isn’t of importance and no one other than Dan probably cares. And they told someone else and it ballooned into abuse of Press Releases for backlinks which Google clamped down on to a large degree. No-follow links started coming from the sites and the press release died. But not totally.
Link Exchange / Reciprocal Links
Quid Pro Quo is more than just a sexual harassment term that means this for that. I often get emails from people complimenting an article and then pointing out that they weren’t included in the topic and if I link to them, they’ll link to me. Now honestly every chance Ive had Ive added the link and left the link back to the wayside … usually thats what I get and thats why folks hate swapping links because theres little reason to expect the link to remain in force.
I dont know what it looks like but I’ll know it when I see it. Too bad it isnt that simple one person puts that phrase as “I know it when I see it, and someone else will know it when they see it, but what they see and what they know may or may not be what I see and what I know, and that’s okay.”
GuestPosts for Backlinks
Then someone decided, hey let’s write for each other. And of course…that got out of control with Cat Blogs including Dog articles and Dog articles about catching mice. The lines got blurred and it was hard to tell what was what. Again though just like before its hard to tell when something is off limits, it makes sense for Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper to guest post on each others blogs before they do a New Years Eve special together … ( they were great, miss it) but … is that going to hurt their SEO on each others site?
It shouldn’t even though they are pretty darn different they have a legitimate reason and their viewers and readers probably eat that content up. Again, the intent of the author is in play and the value to the readers.
Syndicated Articles for Backlinks
So a marriage of Press Releases and Guest Posts are Syndicated Content. People generally freak out over it because of the fairy troll that someone made up called ” Duplicate Content ” it isn’t important. Don’t waste time worrying about Duplicate Content.
Think about the Associated Press … they write an article about a war in some far off place and then 2000 news sites place the article on their homepages, does that mean that all those news sites are penalized? No … and Google says and has said for a decade what I’m telling ya here. There is in fact no Duplicate Content penalty.
But again its the intent of the author and the value of the content that decides if it’s a link building scheme.
User Behavior – Bounce Rate, Visit Duration
Google Analytics becomes a taddle tell. How do we determine the value of content to the reader? User Behavior is the biggest ranking factor these days. We all love free right? So we added Google Analytics everywhere and it tells us stuff thats really very sensitive about how people interact with our content.
Stuff that say a search engine company might want to know if it were trying to judge your site’s content using user behavior as the biggest metric for keyword ranking. And BOOM now ya get it. If ya don’t then go back onpage and say that keyword a few more times, cause you’re in the wrong class.
That free data is also the data that your giving to Google for free for them to track everyone on the web and determine how people interact with your content vs. your competitors site which likely also has Google Analytics.
No one in SEO really connects the dots … they help push clients onto Google Analytics but its been talked about before even on Moz.com they note 7 reasons why you should not use Google Analytics. They point out in the fourth reason …
4. Giving Big G too much information.
Google sees everything you see. Think about that…they know everything. Do you really want to be responsible for giving them that kind of power? Supposedly that’s the trade off for the fact that…
How Do We Build Backlinks Then In 2019?
Use any method that actually fits the need, the tools above are all valid and in play. You just cant abuse it and shamelessly do something in the goal to gain a backlink. Share GuestPosts but put some effort into it and speak to the other site’s readers. Send a press release but do it when its actually news worthy stuff. If McDonald’s found a way to make organic fat free fast food that tastes just the same .. they’d likely make a press release and the user behavior would suggest those links are valid.
“Content is king” some say, and I like adding “SEO is the crown.” Its true you need content that keeps user behavior metrics positive but before those users are going to check out your king, you need SEO to set that content apart, so folks can notice its king.