man alone in space

Intentional Link Building

What is intentional link building? It’s all about getting other websites to link to your website, called backlinks. This is a really important technique to boost your rankings in search results, because it’s the primary way Google establishes your website’s credibility, authority or prominence. Linkbacks may help Google establish who you are, your business and community connections, and serve as endorsements.

How many links to your website are needed to boost your SEO rankings? As you may imagine some very popular authors or sites have thousands of links. But all that’s needed are 10-20 high quality online connections to establish your website as authoritative. This in turn will significantly boost your rankings and may move you from page one thousand to page 1.

Here’s an article by noted SEO expert Neil Patel on how to get and use links to your website to boost your website’s rankings. You see I’ve provided a link to this article. Why? Because I find his content to be particularly insightful and useful. However, even similarly great content on your website will never be seen without a sufficient number of backlinks. Therefore, a backlink foundation must be part of your overall SEO strategy.

Local Directories

Local directories are of particular importance to local businesses because they contain location details. But while business directories are not of much value as a SEO ranking factor, if they get a million plus visitors a year, that can potentially drive traffic to your website. Having visitors to your website is good for your SEO if you’re writing top notch content. I think you can see that if people find your porthole to contain uniquely valuable information they might share it on social media or link to you from their website.

Amelia Wilson has written an article about directories that have value in 2019 in which you may want to be listed. Some of these are free to join like Yelp and some you’ll pay for BBB. She lists Google My Business, which is a directory for local business, but it’s more than that. This free listing is essential for local businesses and it’s worth your time to post there regularly.

I’m surprised by how much traffic some of these directories are getting, of which I wasn’t even aware. I can tell your that Yelp and Yellowpages are worthwhile places to be listed, so the search engine can verify your identity details: name, address, phone number (NAP) and your website domain name, i.e. URL. You should be only listed in directories that may potentially send you customers and hopefully to your website as well.

They Love Great Content

Great content is useful content that answers the question that brought the web surfer to your site. If it is really top-notch content people will want to remember it so they can refer to it later. Or if it’s exceptional they’ll link to it or share it on social media. So strive for that kind of content every so often.

Community Connections

you are connected

National or regional certification boards or industry organizations may contain your profile online. If so, by linking to that page you’ll assist the search engine verify your identity and purpose. This will help them to know when it’s relevant to display your information in search engine result pages.

Your local chamber of commerce and business or neighborhood associations that you’re already involved with are great places to get backlinks. The rule is that your online links should mirror your offline associations. These are seen by Google as good information about you and your business. Most of these organizations keep a member list, and this list should be online. Or ask the person in charge of membership to add a member web-page for contact information, with a link.

Particularly esteemed by the search engine are links from government, school and non-profit organizations because they’re seen as impartial. What relationships do you have with any philanthropic that might earn you a link? Do you give to or volunteer with any; or do you host an activity at your business location? Hosting an activity may well require a link to your contact page for directions to your location. Also regular involvement with a non-profit could also earn you a mention.

Business Relationships

If you are one of a few businesses that handle a particular product ask the distributor to list you and your location on their vendors page. If they won’t do that then they certainly would partner with you on a press release, such as through EIN Presswire (which is a subscription). This press release would state that their product can now be obtained from you, as a local vendor. And as EIN Presswire’s website states, the story might even be picked up by Google News. Lot’s of potential there.

Do you refer business to a company from whom you buy goods? Speak to your contact there and ask if you can supply a testimonial for their website. And if they appreciate it perhaps they will show it by linking to the author, be sure to ask for it.

Are there one or more businesses who currently send you referrals? Then it would be natural for them to give you a link and for you to acknowledge them on your site as well. You are seeking to have your offline relationships acknowledged, these days, online as well.

Available Online Tools

There is an online tool that you can use to see what websites are currently linking to your website, it is ahrefs.com. This same tool can be used to examine your competitors website, that rank ahead of you, to see where they have gotten their backlinks. Do you know someone who works there? If you have a connection you might be able to get a link too. Let’s find someone who works there. There is a free 7 day trial, enough to get what you need.

There is Facebook search tool by Intelligence Search that is also free. If you know of someone who works at a related-industry company you can use this tool to see who they know. Perhaps you’ll find that you have a mutual Facebook friend who could make an introduction or help you get the job done.

all pointing to you

Featured in Local Publications

We all have local newspapers and various publications, and some of them are rather upscale, like our Main Line Times. This is a good place to be featured as a local business of interest. If you know someone who works there perhaps you could getting them to write an article featuring you in their publication. And of course they’ll also have an online version, which would certainly include your contact information, including your website address, which hopefully is clickable.

Don’t know someone who works there? There is another online tool that can help. It is a free Facebook search tool. You can easily see who the authors and editors are at the publication by picking up a copy, and this search tool will tell you who they are connected with that you may know. Perhaps one of their Facebook friends you’ll also know, who could put in a good word for you and point them in your direction. Very handy little tool!

Summary

You’ll need to mine your community and business relationships that already exist to get some quality links to your website. You should never get links that don’t represent a relationship or endorsement, unless it’s a legitimate business directory.

Legitimate business directories are recognized by Google as a way to validate where and who you are. Stick with the reputable directories and don’t overuse them. But do use them because they can send traffic to your website.

There is a tool, ahrefs.com, that will tell you what sites are linking to you already. You can use this tool on your competitors websites as well and find out from where they’re getting their links. Maybe you could get in with some of these resources as well.

Writing unusual, unique, and informative content, or even old information that you have repackaged from your perspective, also makes quality content. People will share it or link to it if they really like it, that is providing they get a chance to read it. Link building is about making sure that they do!

I’ve been learning about SEO for nearly 20 years and recently my thinking has been influenced by David Mihm on this subject. He now runs an email marketing firm called Tidings. I have here largely repackaged, condensed and simplified David Milm for strictly end-user audiences on link building. This valuable information he imparted through a series of articles on local SEO in an interview with Yoast.com.

narrowing down the possibilities

Which Development Tool to Use

How should we create your website? Should we use an automation tool like Wix, that seems to be advertising everywhere? There are other “turn-key” systems being advertised today. Have you considered which is best for SEO?

They talk about how easy it is to create a professional website with their tool. And maybe it is but do you want something that’s really attractive? If you want an attractive website then you’ll definitely need a professionally created design. But our main concern is SEO.

Create Website Tool For SEO

What is the quality of the pictures and graphics that you’ll be using? Quality of graphics is so important because if people like their experience they might share it with others on social media. So, if you’re using photographs you’ll want someone with Photoshop skills to produce your website so you get the just the right result. And they’ll want their website creation platform to be flexible to allow the designer to create.

But as important as these factors are there is still one factor that’s even more important when it comes to SEO and that’s using a development environment that is SEO friendly. What is SEO friendly, let me tell you about it?

Why I Develop With WordPress

I use WordPress because it powers more than 1/3 of all websites and there are an abundance of professionally designed themes available. But some themes are more SEO friendly than others and these are the ones I use. An SEO friendly site makes your content readily available to search engines. If you’re interested, here is a technical overview of why WordPress is the best content management system (CMS) for SEO purposes.

There are many factors that the search engine uses to decide which websites to return for a given search term or phrase. One way they judge relevance is how much visitors to a page like the page, measured by bounce rate. Another factor is how well it, the search engine, is able to understand and index your content.

So the question comes up that if you have an existing website can I use it as the starting point for my search engine optimization efforts. And the answer is probably no. Not even all WordPress themes are easily accessed by search engines. SEO is an art and the artist will pick their own tools to get the very best result. The best result is both attractive and readily available for search engines to index.

unifying principle

Google indexes pages, that’s what they do. I’ve already discussed with you the idea of page structure. You want to have clearly defined paragraphs that stay on topic with headings so that the reader can scan content and the search engine can properly understand and index your post or page. But for your entire website, organizing site structure involves using categories to give context to articles.

Use of Categories

As a page has structure so should the the site as a whole. Site structure means that you’ll create categories and pages or posts for those categories. There are 2 reasons for doing this. One reason is so that visitors can find what they’re looking for if they reach your homepage first. And the second is so the search engine can understand the relationships between various pages.

The larger your site the more you’re going to need organization by subdividing your content into categories and subcategories. You may also use hashtags, just make sure they are connecting articles with related topics, just don’t overuse them. Larger sites will probably be using categories and hashtags while smaller sites would probably use one or the other.

When using categories try to keep the number of posts in all categories roughly the same. Don’t let one category have more than twice the posts in the smallest category. If a category gets too big you should subdivide it into subcategories. These are the search engine’s rules of the road, as it were.

Those who find a page of yours because it was returned in search results may land on a page anywhere in your site. But what if they refer to your brand online and someone else tries to navigate your site to find that same page, will they be able to find it? Will your site structure lead them to where it resides? So you see clear site organization through category pages is important.

Categories and Keyword Phrases

Site structure also has everything to do with your keyword strategy. You get traffic to your site from a search result. As we discuss in our keyword strategy post, longer more specific keyword phrases have a better chance of being returned because they have less competition. The longer more specific your keyword phrase the less competition you’ll have for that phrase. One, two and three word phrases have much more competition.

The farther you go down in your site structure the more specific your targeted keyword phrases should be. A category is a generalization and members of that category are more specific instances of the category. SEO is all about being found in search results and the longer the keyword phrase the better you’ll do. As your specific long keyword pages get noticed they’ll gather SEO authority. And this adds authority to the category page just above it. This is the SEO strategy regarding site structure.

Link Up to the Category Page

So make sure you’re linking to the category page from it’s child pages so the search engine understands the relationship. This then will boost your category page as well.

Likewise as we discuss in our keyword post you don’t want to have duplicate content on your site. That would mean that more than one page is using the exact same keyword phrase, which is a violation of
hierarchy. Google will pick up on this and lessen the rank of both the pages.

Site structure, therefore, is very important to SEO strategy. It’s how we organized our site’s pages through categorization and hashtags, and also through linking to higher level pages. Site structure is an essential component of a successful SEO strategy.

context adds definition

Great Verses Good Online Content?

Here are some guidelines for writing and developing good online content, or copy as it’s called. Good online content will mostly conform to a set of guidelines for online content. The goal of the guidelines is that the text and images are easily understood. Clear to your audience and clear and simple so that even the search engine spider can understand your meaning.

But great online content should also be insightful and useful so people might want to or share it online. That’s writing great online content. All together the elements should be clear also made as engaging, by all creative means, as possible. Getting your articles mentioned online it is a good way to build your site’s authority.

Size of Post or Article

Let’s first note that it’s recommended to use at least 300 words per post, article or page. That’s because a well developed article focused on a topic generally needs to be of that length to be informative. An informative article improves the readers experience with your page and the likelihood that search engines will rank it well in the search results.

Plan Your Article

What is the purpose of the article? Think about how you can organize elements of your message to best convey your meaning. A signal article will be developed through several topics and topics may have several paragraphs.

Organize Thoughts Into Paragraphs

Think about the content of your paragraph. Develop a thought into a sentence, then connect related thoughts to develop the paragraph. Note that paragraphs should be short, of 2-4 or so sentences in length. Sequence your paragraphs to develop a topic. Your topics may also sequenced to explain establish your article.

The first paragraph should serve as an introduction while the last paragraph should be a summation or conclusion. People reading content online like to skim to determine if it’s the content they’re looking for. So try to make tightly organized paragraphs in which the first sentence states the purpose. This serves the user by improving their experience with your website.

Use Headings

Also keep your paragraphs on a single intent, which is important to readability. The search engine really loves headings as they can better understand the content so as to digest and index your content. Headings create sections of one or more paragraphs. By grouping related content together you will be creating sections, and be sure to use a heading.

Particulars of Online Articles

And it’s better to use short sentences, of 20 words or less. Long sentences are harder to understand for people and even more difficult for the search engine’s spider to understand. Also try to use a lot of connecting words like, therefore, and, also, and so on, which creates a connection between thoughts. And try not to start more than 2 sentences in a row with the same word. Additionally, use few passive voice verbs, which are not as easy to understand as active voice.

Summary

Finally it’s recommended that you set aside the text before publishing it so that you can reread it several days or weeks later. This allows you to get a fresh perspective on what you wrote before publishing it. By rereading for sentence word counts, connecting words, headings and topical organization you’ll improve your articles readability for people and spiders.

The only task remaining therefore is to engage, hold interest through the most appropriate mediums like layouts, click through explanations, graphs, photos and graphics that generally improve your readers experience with your audience, called user experience (UX). So that’s how we’ll (you’ll write and I’ll edit and publish) great online content.

making vast easy

Relevant Search Results

Someone enters a search term or phrase into Google and the results of the most relevant websites are returned. These days Google is trying to return the best quality results, that means the most relevant. When you do a search you want the most relevant search results, right? Results that answer the intent of your query.

Define Your Brand

Is your site the best there is that Google should return your site on top? You are unique and everyone brings their own dynamic to the table. Why should someone want to connect with you? To what advantage would it be for them? In marketing terms this is called brand. What is your brand? How would you define it?

First of all, you need to own your content. That is, a web designer may have put your site together for you and now they are done. They have written from their perspective about your business. Once they turn it over to you it’s your turn to accurately represent who you are, your brand, on your new website. Your brand defines who you are uniquely, which only you can define.

There are two factors here. First is how you differentiated yourself from the pack. The second is, does your site really accurately who you unique are , i.e. does it clearly represent your brand? This will make you stand out.

The Prominence Factor

What authority or prominence does your site possess? Sites with more “authority” are favored by the search engine over websites with less “authority”. How does the search engine determine authority? There are two ways. First the more mentions they find of your brand and links to your website across the web the greater the authority they attribute to your website.

Another measure of authority is how well a given page of your website matches any particular search term, as compared to competing websites. Your page may be favored because it best uniquely fits an entered search phrase. This page will have more authority. When this page links to a category page above it, some of it’s authority is transferred to that page. That’s the importance of site structure.

This then is the measure of prominence. For more on how to achieve this prominence see my article on building links to your website.

Keep It Current and Fresh

The SEO mantra is post regularly, at least every couple weeks. An old static site is less valued that an alive growing site. Be alive and grow your ideas and your website.

Then you need to keep it razor sharp in freshness by updating your site regularly as you hone your skills, desires, and attitudes. Everything needs to be current. You are changing constantly and possibly so is your brand. Therefore, you constantly need to keep your site up-to-date.

That doesn’t mean that a video you published a year ago is outdated, but have you added something of value recently? Things in your world are changing and you’re growing as a person and so you’ll want to keep your site current and fresh and, you see, therefore highly relevant. Go through all your pages and update them regularly, and your most important articles like every 6 months.

Have Original Content

Your content is original because you are unique. And because you are unique so should be your content. Just your attempt to summarize and explain can be original because it’s your perspective on the subject. It’s your uniqueness that makes you stand our from the crowd. And if your uniqueness makes you the best choice in certain areas and situations then you’re going to want to make that clear.

Are you growing in defining who you are and the market you serve? Do you do everything well and are you truly a master at those things you do? Excell at what you do and others will want to connect with you!