You can increase your website traffic without doing link building and without violating any Google webmaster guidelines by concentrating on less risky and more efficient ways that will also lay the foundation for long term success.
If you are one of my regular readers you should know by now that I am against building links as a way to promote a blog or website. Link building used to work in the past but today things have changed and link building of any kind may create the exact opposite results.
Last week I was pleasantly surprised when Google has finally decided to change their ranking article by removing any references to link building and replacing the text with a wording more suitable to what is applicable now especially after the release of Panda and Penguin (You can see the exact changes in more details below). This also gave me the idea to write this article and explain how to grow your website traffic without building links.
Things have changed – Forget about link building all together
A bit of history for beginners
One of the biggest flaws in Google’s ranking algorithm was the dependence on links for calculating the ranking position of a website. While Google was making huge efforts to keep spammers out of their index, for years you could trick their algorithm and rank for any keyword by pointing thousands of links (of any kind – I describe the different kinds in detail in what is off-page SEO) to a web site.
This ‘hide and seek’ game between the Google Quality team and “SEO’s” continued until February 2011 when Google started rolling out the Panda updates and April 2012 with the Penguin roll out. What Google has finally managed to do is separate artificially generated links from natural links while at the same time devalued the importance of the anchor text.
The logic behind using links as a ranking factor is valid and links still play an important role but Google is now more efficient in identifying important links from links used for the sole purpose of manipulating their algorithm.
Other search engines (for example Bing and Yahoo) rely largely on links for rankings and they are behind Google is terms of how sophisticated their ranking algorithms are. This is also the reason why some websites are penalized by Google for link building and are removed from the first pages of their index but at the same time they rank well in Yahoo and Bing.
Google changes ranking advice
As mentioned above Google has updated their ranking article by removing references to links and adding references to high quality websites that users will want to use and share. The change was first spotted by @Baeumlisberger and reported by Barry Schwartz on search engine land.
This is how the page looked before:
And this is how the page looks now:
This change was made on May 27 2013 although they should have made it right after the release of the first Penguin on April 2012. I have already started talking about the growing importance of building high quality websites since April 2013 and I am glad that now this is getting more attention.
Does this means that link building is officially dead? In my opinion yes, link building as we knew it until now is a think of the past and webmasters and SEO’s should concentrate on the other 200+ factors for ranking their websites higher in the SERPS.
Guest posting is link building with another name
Since last year many people have started to promote guest posting as a valid way to get links and increase the PageRank of a website. Many “SEO’s” are also promoting it as a legitimate way to gain rankings and if you have a website I am sure that you have received at least a couple of requests to publish guest posts on your website or blog.
You can read when to accept guest posts on your blog and is guest posting a valid way to get links for a detail analysis about the role and type of guest posts but in a nutshell you should know the following:
- Guest posting is still link building (don’t let the name confuse you) and link building is against Google guidelines.
- Guest posting is a very good way to make new connections, get new readers and customers and you should guest posts on other high quality related websites only if the above conditions as met.
- No need to use keyword anchor text for your incoming links, maybe they won’t count against you but why take the risk.
SEO is not about building links and it never was
This is one of the biggest SEO misconceptions and I am afraid it will take years until SEO is disengaged from link building. To give you a real example, because we have named our SEO services as SEO packages and despite the clear description that we do not engage into any form of link building, we still get a number of emails from prospect clients asking how much we changer per link etc.
If SEO is not about link building then what is SEO?
Search engine optimization is exactly what Google added in the ranking article, it is about building high quality websites that are optimized for both search engines and users. A high quality website is user friendly, fast, shareable and offers a great user experience regardless the platform used by the user.
The importance has moved again to on-page SEO and to ways you can make your website more functional and better than the competition. I have written numerous articles about SEO the last 6 months that basically cover everything you need to know from beginner guides to more advanced techniques.
Besides SEO how can I increase my web traffic?
Digital marketing is the keyword you are looking for. With digital marketing you get to explore all possible digital traffic sources available. Let me give you a couple of examples
Social media marketing – Social media marketing is the way to build links to your website. It is not something new, it has been around for years but it is gaining more importance and attention. It is no coincidence that webpages who are popular in social media started ranking higher in search engines as well. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ are just some of the tools in your arsenal. If you want to learn more, spend 5 more minutes reading:
10 Social Media Marketing tips for beginners
15 Social media mistakes to avoid
Mobile Marketing – This includes both mobile optimized websites and mobile markets (Google Play, Apple Store etc). More than 30% of searches are coming from mobile and Android + iPhone users together are more than 1.5 billion!
Content marketing – Website content is the new marketing. Instead of spending your time in creating low quality content to get a link from a link network, you can now spend your time in creating high quality content for your own website. The more high quality content you get published the more visits you will get (not only organic visits but also direct visits, social media visits, mobile visits etc.).
Do non link building techniques work?
One of the questions I get in the comments is whether a website can climb up the search engine results without building links. People still don’t believe all these things about SEO and digital marketing and they want more prove.
I can truly understand their questions because I have been there myself and I was also sceptical about the effectiveness of this white hat techniques and the best answer I can give you is this: How to get more than 100,000 visits from Google per month (Case Study).
To conclude, if you want to get more web traffic to your website, the way to do it is not by building links (either yourself or hiring an “”SEO”” to do it for you) but by publishing more high quality content on your site. Spend some time on social media and try to make connections with other people in your niche.
When you reach a point that your website is loaded with useful content you can go out and contribute to other websites and share the expertise you have gained as an expert in your niche.
Would you agree that links are still an important part of how Google ranks a webpage, but building high quality content is just a different way (more legit way) of getting those inbound links? As people naturally share (link to) quality content…
Yes, I agree with you and this is exactly what everyone should do i.e. build high quality content so that it gets more natural links. I think that especially after Panda and Penguin, Google is very clever at detecting non-natural links so if you try to trick their system you will get into trouble.
On the other hand when you produce constantly high quality content, you have nothing to lose but you have a lot to gain both in the short run and in the long run.
Thank you for your comment
Jemma Taylor says
Solid post, Love the real world data, and thanks a lot for the tips (just in time for a new project). It just an amazing to hear that traffic without seo …. Thanks nice post!!
Thanks for the comment. One quick correction, it is not traffic without SEO but it is traffic without link building. SEO is not about building links but it is much more than that. I suggest you also read https://www.reliablesoft.net/10-seo-rules-for-blogging-success/
Thanks a lot
Mohsin Ali says
Thanks for sharing this useful information, so really thanks.
Thank you for comment and happy that you found it useful
Wow, I’ve been doing it the wrong way for quite few weeks!
I’ve seen another website which comes after mine goes higher in Google search and it’s killing me! Thanks so much for the information and for saving me from doing further bad things for my website.
Glad I could help
You have put it together very neatly. We are very stuck with our wesite right now and it is difficult to know which way to turn to increase traffic relatively speaking our content is good. Was just about to register with a few free niche directories. What is your opinion on them
Arjunsinh Chandravat says
Great post. But still i got confusion. As of now “Guest Posting” is also considered to be a link building source, so now what is the best way to drive traffic & maintain reputation online without building links.
Awesome! Thanks Alex. I used to build links building profiles and submitting my site to directories. Wish that still worked lol but whatever I will comment on do follow blogs and follow your advise.
A good way to improve website traffic is to write outstanding
Content that has real Value, Proper
budget and creative thinking.
This is really wonderful post to know about link building. Thanks for posting.