Today I’m feeling generous… so as part of my “A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimisation” series I’m going to reveal to you the answer to one of the biggest mysteries in the universe to date.
And no it’s not “what is the meaning of life”… the question is:
WHY is my competitor able to rank higher in Google than me?!?!?!
Frustrating isn’t it? But there’s got to be a reason. After all, if you were to search on Google for something like… “why is the sky blue”… then this will come up:
Now why is it that ‘Science Made Simple’ got the coveted number 1 spot, and Nasa (of all people) only got the number 2 spot? Surely those geniuses at Nasa should be skyrocketing up the search results?
It’s all due to the Google Algorithm
Google has this thing called ‘The Google Algorithm’. A mathematical formula which dictates what appears at the top of the searches, and what gets dumped onto page 276 of Google’s search results.
Unfortunately the algorithm is held very close to Google’s chest, and as such no one KNOWS for sure what the algorithm is, however, we can make very educated guesses as to what it includes based on Google’s own guidelines. The algorithm is constantly changing and thankfully those boys over at Moz have kept a record of all the suspected Google changes since the year 2000.
The Google Algorithm is believed to consist of 200 different components (as explained in part 1 of my SEO guide) so to avoid having your brains explode in your head from all that information, it’s best to focus on the key components of the algorithm.
Which neatly brings me to the topic of today’s blog….
What are ‘inbound’ links? And how do they improve my Google rankings?
One of the most “suspected” (I say suspected, but frankly I think it’s fair to say it’s a given) components of The Google Algorithm is what is known as inbound links… or in laymen terms… the links that point to your site from other websites.
Think about it like this… have you ever wondered WHY Wikipedia is in the top 5 spots for 99% of the searches you make these days?
It’s because whenever anyone talks about their favourite movie, sports star, philosophical topic, holiday destination, etc, they usually point to Wikipedia as they say to their mates “see Tom, I told you Barry Cable was in the Australian Football League Hall of Fame!”
Every time another website links to a web page (like I just did above) you earn another “point” for that page which Google takes notice of. The more “points” a page has… the higher it goes up the search results pages.
To make it even more complicated, the number of ‘points’ given will vary depending on:
- The number of links.
The more, the better. Simple really.
- The quality of the links.
If the inbound links comes from a reputable website or well written article, it means more. I have a friend who got an inbound link from the BBC in the UK, and his site jumped up to the top five position for his favourite keywords. Result!
- The geographical location of the links.
The location of the links will dictate your search position in different counties. So for example, an inbound link from Australian websites will push you up the Australian searches quicker.
- The “freshness” of the link.
The best strategy is to get inbound links on a regular basis, as oppose to a sudden burst of interest that dies off quick. More recent inbound links mean more, so if the interest in your page is only brief, you WILL drop off of the search results.
- The anchor text.
Anchor texts are the words that appear in links like this: why is the sky blue (you can have that on us for free Nasa). The relevance of the text in the link will also dictate the number of ‘points’ a website will get.
In fact, did you know that if you search for “click here” in Google, Adobe Reader is in the number 1 position? This is because for years people have been putting words like “Click here to download Adobe Premiere” and as a result has put them into the top position for years. Interesting huh?
So where do I get these inbound links?
In a perfect world, your website and its content will be shared and talked about naturally. You should have people who point to your website when making recommendations online, and your fans should be talking about you as they send their Facebook friends to your website.
This is why Google have spent well over a decade refining their algorithm, so that only the best quality, relevant and legitimately popular websites rank higher in Google.
Now let me say this straight away… Google HATES cheaters. Cheaters never prosper!
Back in early to mid 2000s there were a number of ways to artificially create these inbound links, the most popular of which were link farms… and as the name suggested they were websites dedicated to just producing links to other websites.
The problem with this is that is allowed a lot of junk websites to climb up the rankings and was used by SEO cowboys to artificially inflate the importance of their clients websites.
Then Google responded by dropping a nuclear bomb on the whole scam by modifying their algorithm so that link farms didn’t impact search results, and as a result thousands of websites vanished from Google practically overnight.
So the moral to the story is this: play by the rules and you can enjoy a great relationship with Google.
The 9 best sources of inbound links
Thankfully we are entering a golden age of sharing (thanks Facebook!) on the Internet, and it has never been easier to create and share your very best content. You just have to make sure you do it in a way that helps your standing with Google (as oppose to pissing them off).
So here are the 9 best ways to increase your inbound leads, and in turn, naturally move up the search engine rankings for you keywords. 🙂
1. Guest Blogging:
As well as blogging on your own site, blogging elsewhere can dramatically help your Google rank? It’s important not to write in a way that’s too salesy, but writing regularly for other blogs is a great way to distribute links pointing to your site.
Wanna know more? Then check out my blog on guest blogging, right here at my blog (phew! That was a mouthful).
These have started to dry out a little bit thanks to alternative social groups as found on Facebook and LinkedIn, however there are still entire communities dedicated to specific interests and industries ready for you to take advantage of. Just remember to be friendly, engage and be a regular contributor to the forum. Nobody likes a spammer!
3. Get Mentioned In Articles:
If you’re not up for becoming a regular blogger yourself, then why not do the next best thing and become a contributor to other writers and bloggers? It’s a great way to get a cheeky link back to your website.
In fact, why not join up to the SourceBottle mailing list? I’ve used it before to get my name out there and so can you!
4. Become a Blog Commenter:
Thankfully, I love commenting on other people’s blogs (particular those aim at design and small businesses) as I love building relationships. It also help that every time I do I’m also creating a relevant inbound link to my website at the same time. Cheeky I know!
If you comment on a blog, where the comments are powered by Disqus (probably one of the most popular commenting systems out there today), then you can set it up so that your name includes a link to your website. Again though, make legitimate comments. Spammy sales comments will only can you banned from your favourite websites.
5. Q&A sites / How Sites:
People have questions, and thankfully we all have answers. There are a handful of sites dedicated to people asking for help and allowing the wider community to respond with solutions and answers, and often you can post links back to your site as well. Check out Yahoo Answers and WikiHow as top examples of these sorts of sites.
6. Social Share (you know… Facebook and Twitter!):
Ahhh where would we be without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… the social media revolution has been in full swing now for the best part of a decade and as a result has had a massive impact on Search Engine Optimisation.
By creating intriguing, relevant and shareable content that points to your website, you can quickly take advantage. In fact I’ve written an array of social media blogs which can give you a great head start.
7. Advertise! (Though do be careful):
Technically advertising (see my warning about link farms above) is a big no-no in the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), however evidence has shown that fair and reasonable advertising can improve your standings in the search results. Things like banner adverts, Google text ads on websites, etc all add legitimate backlinks to your site which Google will recognise.
8. Video sites:
When I say video sites you may think of YouTube, but there are a number of websites that will allow you to host videos offsite including Vimeo and DailyMotion. Each one of these sites have ‘more detail’ sections where you can add links to relevant pages on your site.
9. Press releases:
Believe it or not, press releases still work in this day and age. The great thing about press releases is that they can be picked up by other website, thus spreading your message (and the links pointing back to your website) far and wide.
There are dozens of press release sites online, but recommend you check out EzineArticles.com, PRwire.com.au, PRWeb.com and SourceBottle.com.
Now let me leave you with some final words of advice.
So now that you’ve seen what you’ve got to do, you’re probably very eager to get started. Before you do, I want to give you a few more words of advice.
- Avoid duplicate content! Google only counts the first version of a blog or article it sees. So if you copy and paste the same bit of copy everywhere, it won’t count. Sorry!
- If you need ideas, check out your competitor’s inbound links. Yes you can do that! Simply go to backlinkwatch.com and see where your competitors are getting their links from.
- And remember… don’t be a dirty little spammer! If you’re going to comment on blogs, forums, Q&A sites, etc then be a genuine contributor! If you go in too quick and heavy with “BUY MY STUFF NOW” all you’ll do is get blocked. Become a trusted member and then people will listen (and buy) from you.
I hope you enjoyed part 3 of my big ole’ SEO Guide For Beginners? Do you have any questions? Sound off below and let’s get this conversation started… 😉
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