How to Understand SEO Linkbuilding in 2017
SEO is always changing, and it’s at the beginning of a new year that those changes still become apparent for the first time. New Years is an important time for SEO professionals as they look back on what worked (and what didn’t) in the previous year and study trends in search engines’ inner workings that will affect SEO and SEM in the coming year.
Here’s what we know is changing.
Google has tended to focus on two things more each year since around 2013 – QUALITY and RELEVANCE. While it was possible in the old days to boost a page’s standing through keyword stuffing and junk links, it’s more important than ever for sites to produce consistently relevant and high quality content to continue attracting customers.
With the advent of semantic search (a topic we’ll surely address in-depth before the beginning of the new year, and which there’s an excellent article about on Search Engine Journal), Google has come to focus more than ever on relating to its users on an individual basis. That means that your site, too, has to relate to each user who clicks on it.
Here’s what to do about it.
The old techniques that SEO professionals have been using since 2000 or even before, namely the use of keywords and linkbuilding, are just as important as they were in the early days. However, businesses and marketers need to be more conscious than ever of how they use those tools, and need to stay far away from lazy or black hat methods of using them.
External links, for example, are still the single most important deciding factor in where your page lands on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). However, junk links are not only useless going into 2017 – they’re a punishable offense. If you or your marketers get caught spamming Google with junk links in public forums, you could be banned from Google results listings – and the same goes for the other major search engines as well.
It is more important than it ever was before for links to come from vibrant, trustworthy, popular sources. Think of links as roads to your site – you don’t want those roads to go through dangerous mountain passes and the worst parts of town on their way back to you. The ride should be smooth and delightful for customers (and for the search engines’ ever present search bots, too).
Keywords are another huge part of SEO marketing that still matter a great deal going into 2017 – but they, too, will need to be used more judiciously and considerately. Also, Google’s perfection of semantic search (and the other search engines’ race to improve on it even faster than Google) means that keyword synonyms and answers to questions users type into search bars are also more important than they were before.
Everything has changed. Or, nothing has changed.
The fundamentals of SEO are the same as they ever were, with link building highest among them. But with that being said, businesses and SEO professionals alike need to take note that the details have shifted – and SEO, really, has always been and will always be in the details.