Why Links DO Matter for SEO

There has been no end of talk about the death of SEO and of how it is now impossible to do anything that will make any difference to the rankings a site gets for any given term. Those who espouse this opinion go to great lengths to tell that trying to ‘influence Google’ into giving a site better rankings and hence exposure, is just a waste of time and money…

Now, if they were to say that ‘trying to trick Google was a waste of time‘ then I would agree, well at least for the most part, as today Google has far more sophisticated tools to ‘decide’ whether a page is any good or not, that is to say that the page:-

  • Answers the viewers question
  • Provides useful information on the topic (relating to the search term)
  • Assists by providing details of where help may be found
  • Looks at the problem / issue a different way (one that could be said to be interesting)
  • Sells the person the goods / services they want
  • Is funny or educational
  • Is in someway a useful resource for the viewer.

How it does all of the above is a well kept secret, but while we do not know 100% what does work, we know a lot about the things that do not work. This include building links the in the wrong manner (basically too many ‘money keywords’, or building them too quickly) or by having copied or ‘thin’ content.


But, returning to matters that we do know help rankings, let us look again at links. I have been told many times that links do not matter, and however I much that I protest that this is not true, those that hold this view will not be moved. I think that in some cases the persons concerned have been dealt a bad blow by another SEO company that took their money and then built either the wrong links or simply not enough to make any diffference, but whatever they will not move from their stance, and that after all is their right.

For my part all I can do is to prove to them that links, when built in the right way, and when part of an orchestrated plan (which includes having good quality, original content on the site) DO ASSIST in getting better rankings.

The best way of showing how links have improved matters is by looking at an example, and what better example to show than one relating to Serendipity’s own site..


The term ‘seo west midands’ was in part chosen as an agency that I used to work with had a first page ranking for the term, and I wanted, for purely personal reasons, to get a better one than them. For one I thought that our site was far more relevant to the subject (they are a design agency with an SEO bolt on, while we at Serendipity do nothing else than SEO / Marketing), but also that our site contains huge amounts of info on SEO whilst their blog, for example, has only 3 posts in the last 5 months…

The question that first has to be asked is why was Google giving us such a poor rank for this term in the first place? All the information available to them should have made our site a better choice, but no, we were left on the second or third page of results. That is until we started creating links…

the effect of building links

Here we can see how the addition of links to the SEO ‘recipe’ for the SOM site made all the difference, suddenly the site was catapulted over the top of my rival, staying there consistently since.

Now, here is a bit of a rub, in that any ranking reporting system you use is only gives one ‘view’ of reality, and the fact is that Google will display it’s results in many different ways, for all sorts of different reasons. So it was  not much of a surprise when another system that I use showed us just below my rival.

This system, which we use to check out the competition for any given term when running our free SEO Health Checks, provides a lot of useful data:-

seo west midlands data


As can be seen, here the SOM site is still on the first page, but lower than reported on the other system, but what is more interesting is that the data shows quite a few patterns.

The first is that overall, the sites with the higher TRUST FLOW are ranked higher than the others (there is always an exception to every rule, sometimes the sites in question quickly disappearing as Google ‘gets it’s act together), whilst also showing that pages which have links to them are liked better by Google. On the latter point it must be said that if a domain is very strong, that each of it’s pages have a better chance of getting a rank, even when the page has no links pointing directly to it, the rank for esterling.co.uk being a good example.

What does all this prove? Simply that LINKS DO MATTER and that if they are created to a page on a site that contains relevant useful information, that a better rank on Google is 9 out of 10 times achieved.

I will be adding more on this subject later in 2016 as we have another test in process at the moment. The aim here is to get better rankings for some other local SEO terms. Before we started the process our ranks for these terms were to all intense and purposes nil, so we have added a new page to the site, especially for these terms and are in the process of building links to the site and page to support the drive. The first results (really a benchmark BEFORE the links have any effect) is shown below:-

keyword rankings 140216

Please look out for more posts on the subject of Linking and SEO

Understanding The Basics Of SEO

It is true that many people find SEO confusing and overwhelming particularly as the ‘rules’ keep changing. There are however, a few SEO tasks that you can do that will not hurt your rankings and that will in fact help them. There is no point in wasting your time doing things that aren’t going to do any good or that could in fact harm your position in organic search.

Never underestimate the value of high quality content. The content that you add to your site or your blog must be relevant to your niche, it would be a mistake to provide content, regardless of how good it is, about a subject that has no relevance to your business. It is important to understand what valuable content actually means. The content is deemed to be valuable when it is both engaging to the reader and relevant to the niche. This is where Google’s Panda algorithm comes into play, it is being updated to be able to search your content in order to decide how well it has been written and how relevant it is to your niche. So, writing content that is full of grammatical errors will not do you any good at all. Make sure that your punctuation and spelling are correct too, it makes it easier for the human reader to understand what you are trying to convey.

Backlinks still provide a great deal of power but only if they are carefully cultivated. It is essential that links are only created with relevant niche sites and that you use a wide range of keywords for your anchor text. Using the same ones all the time is likely to attract the wrong kind of attention, so mix it up a bit and make sure that you don’t just link to the same page all the time either.

Social signals are becoming more important to rankings these days and again, it is important to use the right ones. When visitors share your content, this provides validation that it is quality, the search engines take note of this. Google +, Twitter and Facebook appear to be influential but YouTube is also catching up, so don’t discount using video as a means of providing quality content. Make sure you provide sharing buttons on your site so that it is easy for visitors to share what they are enjoying. This is another way of obtaining natural backlinks to your site.

The main message to take away from this post is, if it looks natural, it is worth doing. The search engines like things to be natural, any unnatural looking patterns will attract attention that you do not want and could see your site slip down the organic rankings or even being penalised. Remember that SEO is a bit of a marathon, it’s not a sprint, it takes time for your strategy to start to work however, providing you have taken your time at the beginning and not tried to take unnatural looking shortcuts, you should begin to see some positive rewards.


When experts discuss SEO, or search engine optimization, most marketers and entrepreneurs get a glassy look in their eyes and quickly send their minds to the ether for a respite. The problem is that a lot of SEO is technical and quite boring, and experts will often brush over the more basic tactics that still produce great results. By focusing on some of these small, simple methods rather than trying to figure out the more technical aspects of SEO, you can quickly raise your position in search engine results. You’ll have less of a learning curve, making it easy to apply these SEO changes now and be able to continue using them.

Choose the Right Keywords

One of the biggest problems people have with SEO is choosing keywords that actually generate traffic. While you do need to select keywords that people use and have little competition, you also need to select keywords that are relevant to your content.

You also need to select a few keywords for your blog posts. The exact number that you need will be determined by the size of your site and your industry. Most small blogs, for example, only cover one or two different main keywords, while authority sites can cover hundreds. After you have selected your main keywords, you need to find several long tail keywords that relate to your main keywords. These can help serve as inspiration for your blog posts and help you target a more niche market.

Small Things Can Count the Most

When it comes to optimizing a blog post around a keyword, search engines don’t just see how many times you used the word. Every search engine takes META data into account when they choose which sites rank higher than others. This makes sense, as META data also has a great influence on how your webpage is displayed to someone searching online.

META data is comprised of several components, but for SEO purposes, you will mostly need to focus on the title and description. Having a well-formatted URL that relates to your META data is also appealing to search engines.

To get the perfect, SEO-friendly META data that will help you get more traffic:

  1. Write a unique title that relates to the content of your post. Use a long tail keyword, but make sure your title is not just the keyword. For example, “How to write a META title the easy way.”
  1. Write a short, but catchy description that encourages people to click. Include your long tail keyword and one supporting keyword in this description. For example, “Learn how to write a META title to help you get traffic fast.”
  2. Properly format your URL so that it includes a keyword and is easy to find. For example, “examplewebsite.fakeurl.com/how-to-write-a-META-title”

The goal of META data is to entice human readers to click on your links, but to also send signals to search engines using consistent keywords.

Avoid Recycled Content

One of the first things that people learn about SEO is that search engines can recognize plagiarized content and they don’t like it! While most of us know not to steal other people’s work, we often forget that it is easy to plagiarize ourselves. Offering the same content over and over again means you will not only bore your readers, but be placed lower in the search results as well.

If you are building your website around a single keyword, you may run out of writing ideas very quickly. If this happens, you will need to explore the topic from a different angle or buying perspective. Try to include fresh news stories about your topic. Remember, not every blog post you publish needs to contain the same keyword to help you generate traffic.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/miketempleman/2016/01/29/the-simplest-most-effective-seo-tactics-you-will-ever-learn/2/#3f7a75e246cc