Members of the Pole Position Marketing pit crew answer your web marketing questions from their unique perspectives, with a “bonus lap” by a guest industry pro. See previous questions or go to our Ask the Pit Crew form to ask one of your own.
Today’s question was originally asked in Clarity. I answered it there but am reposting it here with additional feedback. It’s a longer question than normal, so bear with me…
Is it possible to increase my site’s SEO by getting blogs/other websites to provide backlinks to my site? I have a strategy in mind to increase my site’s SEO. Basically I want to position my site on the top few Google results for a particular keyword. Eg: Toys.
If I provide bloggers with unique articles, all related to Toys, and ask them to set the same keywords in addition to providing a backlink to my site, will it be possible for me to increase my site’s authority for the word Toys?
In other words, If I can get 5,000 blog articles to point to my site with the same keywords, can I make it to the top of Google’s search results if a user searches for Toys?
Stoney deGeyter’s Answer from an SEO Perspective:
If you got 5,000 sites to link to your site using the same keyword, you’ll likely be flagged for spam and attempting to manipulate the search results. That is an old-school attempt at SEOing a site that Google and the other search engines have already developed algorithmic answers for.
There are three aspects to building up your search rankings.
- On-Site Optimization: Your site has to be coded in a way that is search and mobile friendly. You need to optimize your content for searchers’ topical interests (keywords), and give your visitors a great on-site experience by focusing on usability issues.
- Content: You need to create and publish awesome content that fills the needs of the audience you’re trying to reach. Write blog posts and create other forms of content that answer questions, provide tips and map out solutions that truly illustrate that you are an authority on the topic.
- Social Engagement / Links: Links are an important part of the algorithm, but getting a bunch of sites to link to you using keywords is the wrong approach. You need to be engaging on social media and (to a far lesser extent) socializing your content above. But the more you engage, the more others will socialize your content for you, which is where authority is really built.
Annalisa Hilliard’s Answer From a Link Building & Local SEO Perspective:
Links still provide signals to search engines, signals that help determine how, when and for what a site should rank. Therefore, getting links is considered an off-page SEO factor. In earlier stages of SEO, it was easier to manipulate search rankings with link building – think link automation and exact match anchor text.
However, search engines have evolved over the years, and now getting a massive quantity of links over a short period of time with the same or similar anchor text will likely trigger an unnatural link penalty, if not immediately, eventually.
Spend your time and effort optimizing off-page elements in ways that will withstand future algorithm updates.
BONUS LAP WITH: Mark Traphagen
Mark leads Stone Temple’s marketing team, or as he likes to refer to it “our in-house marketing lab.” Mark has a strong reputation as an expert on social media, personal brand building and content marketing. In an interview, Rand Fishkin of Moz named Mark as one of his top 5 people to follow on social media. He is a contributor to publications such as the Moz Blog, Search Engine Land, and Marketing Land; and is also a speaker at industry conferences such as MozCon, PubCon, and SMX.
The strategy as you’ve stated it is a recipe for potential disaster. It’s not 2000 anymore. If it were that easy to fool Google, everyone would be doing it.
Google has become very sophisticated at sniffing out manipulative link schemes that try to game the search results. They created an algorithmic penalty, popularly known as “Penguin,” that detects such schemes and devalues the search results of sites that employ them. Nothing looks more suspicious than a bunch of guest posts all pointing to the same site with the exact same anchor text keyword.
Besides, your chances of ranking on page one for a highly-competitive, short tail keyword like “toys” are next to none. You’re up against major brands with huge authority, such as Toys R Us, Walmart, Amazon and Target.
A better strategy is to create content for an underserved but popular niche within the toy market and earn a diverse set of links that will help you build topical authority in that area.