To serve up the best and most relevant results for the billions of searches that take place every day, Google, Bing and the rest are constantly on their toes. Honing their algorithms daily, the search engines have created an intelligent and sophisticated search climate, providing a useful and reliable service that we now almost take for granted. The majority of these updates are indiscernible to site owners, but the rising importance of ‘linkless mentions’ is a significant development for all SEOs to take note of.
A brief history of link building
Once upon a time, your search engine ranking was very strongly influenced by the number of links pointing back to your site. It didn’t matter where these links came from, making it easy to game the system by using low-quality techniques that didn’t add value – meaning that search engine users weren’t always receiving the best and most authoritative information.
In response to these black hat SEO techniques, Google updated their algorithms to ensure that links from highly regarded and relevant sites were given more weight in their PageRank system – an effective way to discern quality links from junk.
But the changing climate of the online world means that there are now a whole host of other factors for search engines to consider. Quality has become fundamental to Google’s algorithm: quality service, content and user experience. Today, it’s a much more sophisticated process, and, reflecting the reality of the online community in 2018, while backlinks aren’t as important as they once were, they still remain a fundamental part of an SEO’s toolkit.
Shifting the goalposts: linkless mentions and SEO
PageRank was retired from the Google Toolbar in 2016, in acknowledgement that the world of search has moved on. Online mentions that don’t include links are now gaining in importance; search engines are monitoring their appearance, using it as a trust signal and adjusting sites’ performance accordingly.
Linkless mentions represent a fundamental shift that needs to be reflected in your SEO, social media or PR strategies. Here’s how to capitalise on this shift away from embedded web links and broaden your approach to SEO:
- Links remain important. They’re still fantastic for SEO, especially from high-authority sites, but the goalposts have shifted to include other factors.
- Expand your tactics. Broaden your approach and focus on generating content and positive online mentions that are not totally reliant upon hyperlinks. These might include online PR, social media mentions, guest blogging and more.
- Optimise your off-page activity. Give search engines all the clues you can to show how your off-page content is relevant. Ensure that any non-website content, such as social media activity, is optimised.
- Manage your reputation. If you’re not doing it already, start keeping track of all mentions of your brand – linkless or otherwise. This is important, not just for your website, but also from a reputational perspective. Reputation management is a key component of a PR’s skillset and it is worth keeping an eye on the quality of your mentions (and links), as well as monitoring what clients or prospective clients are saying about you across the web.
If all this sounds a little daunting, remember that great content will always be rewarded, and the rise of linkless mentions is a big opportunity for brands. The take-away message from this latest search engine development is that site owners now have more ways than ever to show how great they are! If you’re new to reputation management, social media strategy or online PR and wondering where to start with these new techniques, you can always seek advice from the experts at Wagada. We’ll help you to manage your mentions and increase your exposure, giving you great publicity while simultaneously boosting your SEO.