January 16, 2017 in Tips by

There’s a lot of ranking factors behind Google’s organic search algorithm. Hundreds of ranking factors, as a matter of fact. With all these things to consider, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by an SEO campaign.

Don’t be.

While there are hundreds of factors, not all are equally powerful. In fact, I’d suggest that several recent (yet popular) factors can be distractions. In the end Google’s ranking comes down to two simple things: content and links.

Content is the easy part: speak your customers’ language and answer their questions. With regular content, like this, you’ve got that covered.

Link building can be difficult. It’s time consuming. It’s scary, too- will this link get me in trouble with Google? Still, you need to do this, if you expect to be found from your SEO campaign.

Let me demystify link building by sharing a new process with you. I’ve been using this process for a couple months. With it I’ve found several new links for my clients. I think it will help you get new links, too.

What tool did I use? Google.

First, Google Yourself

This is where every business should start, when it comes to link building. What can you do with this information?

For some businesses, this can be a little difficult. A Google search for your name might bring lots of things besides your business. For this tactic to work, it is best for you to return the most relevant results. That means you might need to use a more specific search query. My own company’s name is a good example: Reliable Acorn. It’s pretty broad. Lots of irrelevant things come up for this search. To find only results for me, I modify my search by putting my name in quotes, adding “marketing”, adding my city’s name, etc.

If, even after a more specific query, you can’t find anyone talking about you you’ve learned an important link building lesson. To get links you need to do link-worthy things. Much of link building, these days, is simply PR- you need to get the word out.

If nobody is talking about your business, why would they want to link to you? Good links are earned.

Second, Google Your Keywords

I hesitate to recommend this. Sometimes people are consumed with ranking and forget that SEO is about getting new customers. I don’t want to encourage that. Besides, ranking doesn’t exist.

When you do a keyword search for links, think short-tailed and broad keywords. We all know that more specific, long-tailed keywords are the key to success in an SEO campaign. When it comes to searching for links, think broad terms. You might not ever rank for these phrases, but they will help you find good links such as:

Third, Google Your Competitors

Just as you found links by Googling yourself, you can get links by Googling your competitors:

When I Google a competitor to find links, I often modify my search query by negating their website. That means I add -site:theirwebsite.com to the query. This tells Google not to (hence the dash) give me results from their site (site:theirwebsite.com). This way I only get results from other sites, talking about them.

Fourth, Google Your Customers

How would your customer describe themselves? Perhaps you already have a buyer persona. Even if you don’t, you can still look for your customers with Google:

WordCamp Europe 2021

David spoke at WordCamp Europe in 2021 about international keyword research.

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