Google Ranking Factors 2017

06. Link Strategies: Which Link Strategies Are Recommended?

With Dixon, Stephen, Kirsty and Will.


Will Critchlow – CEO & Co-Founder Distilled
It’s our priority, when we are developing a strategy to improve the authority of a particular domain, or to generate links to a particular piece of content, is increasingly moving towards making sure that we don’t only get links. The top priority, I think, in most of the link strategies is that the links are part of that puzzle. But we want to be getting a range of links from a range of places that are also accompanied by the usage metrics. They are links people click on.

They are links that actual users see on actual pages that actually get traffic. And they are accompanied by other kind of sensible forms of sharing. Whether that be social or whatever else. Not necessarily because those things on their own are ranking factors but because we want to be creating future-proof links. Links that are genuinely valuable and build up the sites in all kinds of ways and survive in the future.

Kirsty Hulse – SEO / Digital Type
Yeah, one of the things that we try to do is, almost like downsize link building in terms of the kind of content that we create. I think one of the things that I have done in the past – and I think lots of people do – is put loads of money in creating like big development heavy interactive things as a way to get links.

And I think that’s really great and it can often work but I don’t think it’s the only way. And I think one of the problems, as an industry, that we have with links is, we’ve put a lot of value on them and although there is still a lot of value that is kind of diminishing, as time goes on. So I think we need to get very good at getting links, like Will said, that have multiple metrics, but also that doesn’t take 4 months to build – something massive that costs loads of money.

And I think we can absolutely do that. I think one of the easiest ways to do that is to generate loads of data, which you can do quickly, easily, cheaply. And I think if people stop focusing more on data-focused kind of press-driven stories, as the way to build links, then that allows us to do multiple different metrics, do smaller pieces but more often. And that hopefully kind of makes our link building a little easier and more efficient in the future.

Dixon Jones – Majestic Marketing Director – Receptional Founding Director
An interesting thing about strategy for links is that getting the link is the measure, is a measure of success. It’s not necessarily the start of the strategy. So, yes, you have a strategy that involves getting links. But I think that most people don’t have a strategy and it’s sad to see. And I also think that the tools have been guilty of not providing a workflow that allows people to come up with a decent strategy.

And when we have done one, then it hasn’t necessarily been used. So, we got a campaign structure, which I think is a great place to start, because how many links you need for any bit of content, at least is related to the competition around that piece of content. So if you are not looking at the other people in that field then you can’t get a feel for how much effort needs to go into the strategy. So, a strategy needs to be there.

And I think data-driven content and stuff that is going to create unique content is going to help your link strategy. But you do need to put some bullet points down to say “This is the sequence in which I’m going to be approaching my PR. Because this is the sequence that’s gonna get, hopefully, good links first. Rubbish links afterwards”. As opposed to “rubbish links first and good links afterwards”. If you get them in that way around, Google discovers everything in all the wrong order. And that can be detrimental to your link building process.

Stephen Kenwright – Director of Search Branded3
Yeah. Expanding on what Dixon said, I think you’ve got to be honest with yourself about where your link strategy is actually gonna get you. If you’re competing against Amazon, or MoneySuperMarket, or AutoTrade, or there is a clear winner in your sector right now and for the foreseeable future. Links aren’t going to beat them and you can’t acquire links as fast as they can, as easily as they can. So, you’ve got to first like kind of have a look at the other factors.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need a link strategy. Because not having one is kind of a strategy in itself and prioritising other things. But it does mean that you need to be aware of when you’re going to start building links, how you are going to do that and kind of build that into the plan for the long term.

Dixon Jones
The danger, of course, is that people say “Right, I can avoid doing link building because that’s hard. So I do the other bits” and then they never get back around to the link building. And that’s a disaster, generally.

Kirsty Hulse
Yeah, I think that’s why we generally should make the way in which we build links smaller again. I think, when we first started in SEO we were all building links. And we did in a quiet, small, tactical way and then it got massive. Because we sort of created this amazing content, which is great. But I think we can make it a little smaller again. And then that makes it a little bit more achievable. And allows us to do more of it in the future, I guess. But I agree with you, I think everybody just starts kind of getting into this kind of content rat race when they might not need to.

Stephen Kenwright
And everyone talks in terms of kind of “risk and reward”, where actually a lot of it is cost and reward. How much time do you spend versus the amount of everything you get. Something like infographics, for example, arguably fine, but the actual amount of time and money it takes to create an infographic, and the fact that you generally probably get one decent link out of it makes it that it’s probably not worth the effort in a lot of the circumstances.

Will Critchlow
This is how we try and bundle some of these tactics up into a bigger strategy. First, what you said about making sure it’s not just the links that you are looking at, so we talk about bounce scorecard across the platform. The content, the audience, the measurement and the conversion. And all of that stuff needs to be in there. But then also, trying to make up, depending on the client, a portfolio-approach to the content.

When you’re in the content strategy, so that you got some of the hero pieces, that are gonna drive audience building, that are gonna get you the massive visibility. That are gonna get, hopefully, not just one link but tens of links, even into the hundreds of links, on occasion. Backed up by regular publishing for other purposes and then your evergreen stuff that’s designed to actually rank that will get one or two links, but is the best content on the internet on that particular topic.

Dixon Jones – Majestic Marketing Director
Would you say that another way to look at that is, people aren’t linking to content, they are linking to a story and it’s about the story – that you’re creating a story – and people might be linking to different parts of that story and different things in different ways, but the strategy is the story?

Will Critchlow
Yeah, I’d probably call that the “brand as publisher” strategy, which essentially is taking the story as an approach.