Linkless mentions: how link building has moved on

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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.

The best SEO & digital marketing tools out there, and how to make the most of the free ones

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We know that the world of SEO can sometimes be confusing. If you are just beginning to optimise your website for the search engines, it’s often really useful to know that there are some great tools available online which can help to get your website really working well for your business. Whether you are looking to understand where your page ranks in the search engines, to discover which keywords would work best for your products or services, or to find out how you could benefit from running a paid campaign on Google, there’s a site that can help. You can even get support with keeping on top of your social media and content sharing.

For small businesses, it is often vital to keep costs down when they are just starting out and so it’s reassuring to know that lots of these tools offer a free basic service or will let you take advantage of a free trial for a limited period of time.  Many SEO sites offer a starter package that you can use to begin with and, once you are confident that it is adding value to your business, you can then choose to upgrade to the paid for package. But which tools will give you the most help? We’ve come up with a selection of our favourites to help you begin to boost your search engine rankings without shelling out a fortune.

Tools to help you discover how your website ranks in the search engines

One of the first things that you will need to do when you start your website optimisation strategy is to find out how your website is perceived by Google and where it ranks in the search engines. This can often be quite difficult as Google is continually changing and refining its algorithms and search engine rankings move on a regular basis. However a very simple place to start is by checking your website’s PageRank. You can do this via the Page Rank Checker tool which is free. Pages are ranked from 0 – 10. The larger the number the better Google ranks your website. As an example, one of the largest and most used websites, Amazon, ranks as an 8 so for a small business a Page Rank of 2-3 would be great.

However, PageRank only gives a very general overview and it is often useful to drill down further to enable you to really understand your page and site authority. To do this we often use Open Site Explorer which enables you to check the domain authority of your website and that of your competitors. This tool from SEO experts Moz will rank your website with a scoring algorithm from one to 100. The higher the score the more likely your site is to rank in the search engines. It’s a really useful way to check on the progress of your website and to see how you are faring compared to direct competitors too. This is a vital tool and you can view it on MozBar which is a free Chrome extension or on Open Site Explorer.

Tools to help you find the keywords you should focus on using

If you’ve been doing research on optimising your website you’ll probably be aware that getting the right keywords that will ensure that you rank well for your services and products is vital. But there can be a bewildering range of both keywords and long tail keyword phrases out there, so you may be wondering how you can find the keywords that will work for your website. This is where a tool such as SEMrush can be really useful to you. This tool enables you to get keyword ideas and groups from just one keyword and also allows you to see the click potential of any given word or phrase. It also lets you compare yourself against other competitors for different keywords which is a great tool if you are performing a competitor analysis. They offer a free 7-day trial so you can test it out before you commit to paying for it.

Tools to help you plan and analyse your social media strategy

Social media is an integral part of any marketing strategy but it can often be hard to keep on top of it and many small businesses struggle to find the time to post on a daily basis. It is really important to use social media to share content and build connections with online influencers and so we recommend you take advantage of a tool such as Hootsuite. This site allows you to view all of your social media channels in once place, to schedule posts in advance and to access analytics to find out how people are reacting to and engaging with your posts. Hootsuite has a free basic version and you can choose to upgrade to a more detailed package as and when you are ready. It will help you to feel in control of your social media even when you are busy with other aspects of your business.

Tools to help you plan an AdWords Campaign

Google AdWords is a great way to get your business seen, drive clicks, push traffic to your website and give your website optimisation a boost particularly if you are a new business. The Google AdWords Planner is a handy free tool which gives you an estimate of the traffic you will get from a potential campaign.  You can also utilise it to understand how relevant certain keywords are to your business and to work out how popular these search terms are. As this tool is free to use before you decide to set up your campaign, you don’t lose anything if you decide not to run with it or if you feel the campaign won’t be of value to your business.

As you can see there are some great tools out there to help you with your digital marketing and search engine optimisation strategy. They can help you understand where your website sits within the search engine rankings, let you run effective Google AdWords campaigns and allow you to track the success of your website and digital marketing over time. You can even manage your social media channels from one handy platform. We definitely recommend you make use of all these tools, but if you feel you need the human touch for your digital marketing then come and talk to us at Wagada HQ. We can help you make sense of SEO and digital marketing and can also provide help and training with using and understanding the online tools that are available to you.