Monday saw Google post a useful article about organic link building on their Webmaster Central Blog, giving us an unprecedented insight into how to approach the topic. The post, which includes tips on everything from the design and content of your website to the more technical aspects and quality guidelines, is basically a do’s and don’ts of link building, straight from the horse’s mouth. So, here’s Google’s best bits and what we, at Analytics SEO, think of them.
Design and Content Guidelines
“Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.”
A pretty straightforward tip to begin with and one that any person building a website should aspire to from the beginning anyway but note Google’s request for clarity and accuracy as an important factor in their recommendations.
“Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the "ALT" attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.”
This is important for image conscious websites and is equally true of those with Flash-heavy pages. If you feel images and Flash are necessary, then as Google recommends, use the ALT attribute and make sure you have an HTML only version of your site so the Google crawler can index your page properly.
“If your company buys a content management system, make sure that the system creates pages and links that search engines can crawl”
Remember, your content management system is as important to Google as it is to you, so choose wisely and make sure it is SEO friendly.
“Monitor your site’s performance and optimize load times. Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience. Fast sites increase user satisfaction and improve the overall quality of the web (especially for those users with slow Internet connections), and we hope that as webmasters improve their sites, the overall speed of the web will improve.”
The performance of your site is important to Google so their advice to regularly test it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The web has many tools to do this quickly and efficiently, such as Page Speed and Yslow – so make good use of them.
“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as ‘cloaking’."
Transparency is key here as Google does not take too kindly to anything underhand. A page primarily interested in good search engine results is usually terrible to use, so stick to making your site attractive to the user and consider link building after that.
“Avoid hidden text or hidden links.”
Any concealed text or link can lead to Google deeming your website untrustworthy so avoid them at all costs. Apart from anything else, to make your user feel swindled or cheated is a sure fire way to drive them away, so as Google says – “Don’t be evil.”
“If your site is rather new and still unknown, a good marketing technique is to get involved in the community around your topic. Interact and contribute on forums and blogs. Just keep in mind to contribute in a positive way, rather than spamming or soliciting for your site. Just building a reputation can drive people to your site.”
By building a reputation in your field you can produce better results than any number of tools can do for you. Write a blog about the industry and begin to market yourself as an expert – don’t be afraid to speak your mind or say something controversial and your site will fast become a port of call for other industry members.
“Humour can be another way to gain both great links and get people to talk about your site. With Google Buzz and other social media services constantly growing, entertaining content is being shared now more than ever.”
It’s nice to know Google have a sense of humour and it’s also nice to know that they appreciate humorous content. With the growing trend in bookmarking on social networking sites doing something funny – however small – can really increase the visibility of your site.
“It’s important to clarify that any legitimate link building strategy is a long-term effort. There are those who advocate for short-lived, often spammy methods, but these are not advisable if you care for your site’s reputation. Buying PageRank-passing links or randomly exchanging links are the worst ways of attempting to gather links and they’re likely to have no positive impact on your site’s performance over time. If your site’s visibility in the Google index is important to you it’s best to avoid them.”
Finally, Google gives us a reminder that there is no quick and easy fix when it comes to quality link building and to avoid any shortcuts if you cherish being indexed and ranked well. Although this is a marathon, not a sprint, this blog post gives us an insight into what Google are looking for, so where better to start your link building campaign than right here with a little help from the internet giants themselves.
By: Laurie OToole
CEO and founder of Authoritas. Entrepreneur, SEO and golfing enthusiast!