Often times the answer to a poorly ranking website is they don’t have enough incoming links. Links are the backbone of SEO — they account for about 60+% of overall rankings, and when used properly they can bring your website to page 1 of search engine results.
So far in 2012 there’s been quite a few changes by Google in their algorithms, and one of the changes we noticed early on was an even stronger emphasis on quality over quantity as well as being realistic in how they rank websites. Google doesn’t hate SEO, but they hate when people try to manipulate their rankings. What I interpret that as is quite simple — you can build links as long as their sole intention isn’t to game the search engines. That means building links that add value to the internet, and in return you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings.
But some SEO companies take the good old Texas approach to their link building — bigger is better — and in this case that isn’t true. The larger the quantity of links does not necessarily mean your site will rank better. In fact in 2012 we’ve seen quite the opposite. We’ve seen sites with thousands of links for specific anchor text and keywords decline in rankings. I’ve witnessed companies that were ranking #1 for huge keywords drop out of the blue to page 2 and 3 of search results. And I believe the reason behind this is that Google is starting to be more realistic with their rankings.
Google believes that links should be built naturally, that is a website owner finds a helpful site and links to them naturally, without the help of an SEO firm. And while once in a blue moon that does occur, the reality is the vast majority of links for any website are there because of an SEO company, because a website owner contacted them, or because they contributed something to get that link. Most people rarely link out of their website naturally, it’s just a reality of the internet. So Google is now starting to accept that and realize that many of these links are built to manipulate search engine rankings, and not built as editorial links, so they are looking for sites with too many links.
As an example of this, let’s take a local flower shop. I would anticipate this website to have a few dozen links if they haven’t done SEO, and a few hundred links if they have done SEO. But if Google finds that a local flower shop has 5,000 links this is now raising a huge red flag. How in the world would a little flower shop get that many links — that’s the number of links some Inc 500 companies have. So in this case Google would likely penalize the site in rankings, especially if all those links were targeting a similar keyword phrase.
This is a little scary for SEO companies because the reality of over optimizing a website becomes a reality. So instead of building tons of links, it’s now MUCH more important than ever to build quality, relevant links rather than just build hundreds of lower quality links. It’s also important to target multiple keywords — if all your links have a similar anchor text or are targeting the same keyword it looks very suspicious as well. In addition to this, the possibility of negative SEO becomes a tough reality. What if your competitor built 5,000 links to your website to try and get your site to drop in rankings so their site can improve? Any time search engines penalize a site for anything that occurs off the site, they are crossing into very unchartered waters and could be opening up an enormous negative SEO market.
Going forward The Marketing Masters is continuing to build high quality links for our clients, as we always have, and not focus so much on the quantity of links. We’ve ranked websites on page 1 for competitive terms with as little as 15 ultra high quality links, and we’ve seen our competitors fail to rank companies for the same terms with thousands of links, which just goes to show that quality is becoming a more important metric in 2012 than ever before.