A major rule of good SEO for the past half-decade has been that high-quality inbound links will eventually boost PageRank and your position in the search results. It seems like this era has finally come to an end as Google’s ability to understand and rank content has evolved substantially.
Many think that link-building as an SEO tactic is dead and has no impact on organic rankings. The reality is a bit more muddled. As you’ll see shortly, link building can still yield results if done the right way.
Hummingbird Makes a Difference
Before proceeding, it’s important to give a brief overview of the Google Hummingbird algorithm. Long story short, Hummingbird is all about Google’s move from mere keyword and link analysis to a ranking regimen that’s dependent on semantics.
The idea is to serve up content that directly answers questions asked by searchers. As such, things like total inbound links and exact-match anchor text is less important. Basically, a ton of incoming links aren’t the key to SEO success anymore.
Where Links Stand at the Moment
At this point, we’re all well aware of the fact that the original Penguin algorithm update as well as Penguin 2.1 put a serious squeeze on low-quality links. In truth, PageRank and the “link juice” it can pass on to targeted domains still matters to some extent.
It’s one of more than 200 factors that Google takes into account when ranking content. However, links have gone from being a prime factor in the SEO equation to a mere supporting player.
How To Link Post-Hummingbird
Links still matter, that much can be said for sure. However, it’s the authority behind those links that really counts. Don’t bother wasting your time by optimizing niche keywords in your anchor text. For one thing, it won’t work. Secondly, it can actually negatively impact your SEO health over the long haul.
Rather than crafting a linking strategy based around keywords, try to use the authority of authors to signify relevance when creating backlinks to bolster web properties.
Making Your Links Pay Off
In the post-Hummingbird era, it’s clutch to get away from the notion that link quantity equals SEO success. You need to focus on intrinsic link quality such that your links reinforce the greater goal of delivering relevant content to local searchers.
Localized results are the bread and butter of Hummingbird’s long-term aims. If your links make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for, you’re golden. Use branded keywords in anchor text to establish clout.
The New Ranking Paradigm
By now, it should be obvious that you can’t juke Google’s stats through keyword chicanery. A holistic approach to a broader SEO strategy that places an emphasis on semantics rather than keyword matching is going to be your ticket to success.
Links are still important so long as they come from authoritative places. Don’t worry so much about link volume and focus on link value. These days, the clout of those linking to you is all that matters.