Jeff Romero https://www.jeffromero.me Tue, 19 May 2020 21:01:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://www.jeffromero.me/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/cropped-jr-logo-32x32.png Jeff Romero https://www.jeffromero.me 32 32 Catching A Link Spam Catfish https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/catching-a-link-spam-catfish/ Tue, 19 May 2020 08:35:44 +0000 https://www.jeffromero.me/?p=37363 Call it Quality Link Builders or Sea Beach Media, it’s all the same pitch. If you work in the field of SEO, there is a 99% chance you have received emails like the following: Tarun Chakrabortty 11:47 AM (2 hours ago) Hi there, I hope that this email finds you well. I know you are […]

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Call it Quality Link Builders or Sea Beach Media, it’s all the same pitch. If you work in the field of SEO, there is a 99% chance you have received emails like the following:

Tarun Chakrabortty
11:47 AM (2 hours ago)

Hi there,

I hope that this email finds you well. I know you are busy, so I won’t take up a lot of your time. The purpose of this email is to introduce myself, as I enjoy connecting with people who work in the same industry.

My company, “https://qualitylinkbuilders.com/” specializes in the Link-building. We specialize in quality, not quantity, and all of my work is 100% original, and never plagiarised or spun.

Here are a few samples of the blog where I can build backlinks for you / your clients:

http://www.thelondoneconomic.com/ DA68 Traffic: 89420
https://azbigmedia.com DA60 Traffic: 77613
https://socialmediaexplorer.com/ DA62 Traffic: 34686
https://www.ilounge.com/ DA74 Traffic309965
https://www.impressiveinteriordesign.com/ DA47 Traffic: 43536
http://healthstatus.com/ DA64 Traffic: 61150

If you have any question, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, I’ll be happy to help!

To anyone experienced in SEO, this is obvious link spam and 100% against Google’s Quality Guidelines. But I decided to have a conversation with a link spam catfish (a nod to the popular MTV show) to get a better feel for who the people behind the link purchasing companies really are.

Let’s start by getting to know two of the worst offenders of selling spammy links.

Quality Link Builders

At its initial appearance, Quality Link Builders is like any other link building service. Several businesses like this exist and several are actually legitimate. QualityLinkBuilders.com is not one of them. A deeper dive shows Quality Link Builders are located overseas, appear to have endless domains where they can share your content (for the purposes of a backlink) and have hundreds of salespeople pushing the service. This makes them seem like a large company, but all of their salespeople reach out from fake Gmail accounts with seemingly fake information. More importantly, if a company like this can actually build quality backlinks, would their link profile look like this?

Quality Link Builders Review

I don’t think so.

Their domain rating via ahrefs.com is zero. Literally zero.

Sea Beach Media

Just like Quality Link Builders has a team of salespeople with access to endless domains for guest posting, Sea Beach Media is another company doing the exact same thing. Sea Beach Media claims they are based out of London, however, every email is from someone in India. Additionally and just like Quality Link Builders, all of their email addresses come from random Gmail addresses like “saralin.onlinemediapublisher@gmail.com”. Unlike Quality Link Builders, the folks at Sea Beach Media take the time to change their names to 100% English names and they find a random picture to convince you the conversation is happening with someone London.

Oh and their link profile is awful too:

Sea Beach Media

Again, zero.

These kind of companies are what give SEO a bad name. They exist to steal money and never provide results. Once you place an order with them, you’ll never be able to reach the person again and the Gmail address becomes non-existent.

With all of this said, the service they are desperately trying to sell is not entirely bad.

Is All Guest Posting Bad?

The main service these companies sell is called “guest posting”. They guest publish fake content on other sites for the purpose of linking back to another site. As more and more links are published, the receiving site tends to rank better in Google search results. At its root, guest posting is a tried and true technique for off-page SEO…when it’s real.

Google’s Stance On Guest Posts

Google is very much against guest posting when it results in an ‘unnatural link‘.

What is an unnatural link? Anytime you link from one site to another intentionally for the purpose of passing value from one site to another, it’s unnatural in the eyes of Google.

The Risk of a Link Penalty

We’ve known spammy techniques are generally frowned upon by Google, and buying backlinks in fake guest posts through an overseas service is a quick way to get slapped by Google.

You’ll either get a pitch for a single guest post placed on a PBN (a private blog network where multiple websites link to each other, but they don’t have any real traffic) or a pitch for a post on a high quality, heavily trafficked website. The first pitch will hurt your SEO eventually and the second pitch is not realistic.

Think about it – do you really think a random guy in India has access to publish an article on Forbes.com? Not likely.

In either case, you are playing with the future of your brand and risk being penalized by Google.

But this isn’t to say all guest posting is frowned upon. When it’s done correctly, conducting real blogger outreach within your niche and identifying ways you can help answer questions online creates a better overall experience for users of Google. Focus on real link acquisition to be on good terms with Google.

Speaking of things that are real vs. not real, let’s jump into my conversation with a salesperson from Sea Beach Media.

SEO Catfish

Catching the Catfish

Below is my exchange with a link spam catfish who first introduced herself as ‘Sara Winder‘ from Australia. I knew it was a scam from the beginning of the conversation, but rather than ignore it, I decided to listen to her pitch.

LinkedIn Thread

LinkedIn Thread

“But Sara, Twitter Shows Otherwise.
Are You Sure This Isn’t a Fake Profile?”

Sea Beach Media Scam

LinkedIn Scam

Link Spam on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Scam

We go back and forth a bit until ask about her list of domains.

Sea Beach Media

Just Another Scam

The way the scam works is that they send you a huge list of places where they say they can secure a link in a guest post. The list includes influential domains like entrepreneur.com, forbes.com, foxnews.com, etc. Real backlinks from these domains are incredibly difficult to come by and Barsha certainly doesn’t have authorship privileges with any of these sites.

You, the client, pays a premium (as much as $1700 from the list I was sent) to be featured in an article / guest post. You think you’re getting a guest post and backlink from a highly-credible website, but you’ll be lucky if you can get your money back. And if there happens to be a real guest post actually published, there’s a very high chance the link and / or guest post will be deleted after a short amount of time anyway. You’ll spend time trying to reach the salesperson to let them know that the guest post is gone, but you won’t get a response.

I stopped paying attention to Barsha from India aka Sara from Australia. The last couple of days have been filled with ‘Hello?’ messages in LinkedIn, each one slightly more aggressive. I’m sure she’ll send a few more messages before finally throwing in the towel on me.

So, What’s The Point?

The main overarching point of this exchange is that SEO takes time and real work. You simply cannot buy SEO success through fake guest posts, no matter how easy it may sound. Sara / Barsha isn’t real, doesn’t work for a real SEO company and won’t provide real results.

The Reality

If you, as a business owner, think you can earn competitive rankings in Google by purchasing backlinks through a service like Quality Link Builders or Sea Beach Media, your SEO will eventually suffer. Professional SEO takes time, research, data and a lot of elbow grease to get it right.

Instead of going the easy route (not so easy if you’re ever assessed a link penalty I should mention), focus on building quality relationships with real bloggers in your niche. Over time you will earn real, long-lasting links and you’ll see long-term growth in search engine rankings.

If you need help identifying if a link is valuable and not spam or need a review of your current backlink profile, please shoot me an email at jeff@octivdigital.com.

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Do Exact Match Domains Still Work In SEO? https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/do-exact-match-domains-still-work-in-seo/ Fri, 01 May 2020 07:57:32 +0000 https://www.jeffromero.me/?p=37246 I’ve noticed a handful of threads on social media about exact-match domains and if they still work in 2020, so I figured I would drop my thoughts. To most SEOs, it’s widely known that the exact-match domain name strategy to try to “game” organic search results in Google was largely ignored by Google beginning back […]

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I’ve noticed a handful of threads on social media about exact-match domains and if they still work in 2020, so I figured I would drop my thoughts.

To most SEOs, it’s widely known that the exact-match domain name strategy to try to “game” organic search results in Google was largely ignored by Google beginning back in 2012 after Matt Cutts deemed the practice as spammy. Prior to this change from Google, marketers could register domains with the exact-match text as their keyword target and earn rankings for the keyword rather quickly. Instead of being evaluated for domain name history, content, page speed or any of the things SEO professionals pay attention to today, the exact-match text in the domain allowed websites to rank too easily.

All things considered, the exact-match domain tactic was not bad by any means. It allowed for quick brand visibility and tied a brand directly into a keyword. But like many things of SEO’s past including using the meta keywords tag, it doesn’t work anymore.

What Works Best Today?

While EMD sites stopped earning rankings back in 2012, there are a handful of things any webmaster can do to try to rank for their target keywords.

Focus On Search Intent With Content

Instead of trying to own a domain name of your target keyword, build pages on your site focused on the target keywords. Using tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush and Ahrefs, you can begin to scope out your customers’ search intent. Determine the exact queries customers like yours use to find products and services like you. Create landing pages to support the queries with plenty of copy (I always recommend a minimum of 500 words) and track rankings diligently.

Focus On User Experience

The EMD strategy was one that didn’t emphasize the user’s experience on a website. Businesses ended up with multiple domains trying to target their keyword and ended up with thin content, unbranded content and an overall lackluster experience. Here’s where it is much more beneficial to focus on the user’s experience and put all of your effort into your main site.

Focus On Competitors

Instead of trying a variety of things to rank, spend time thoroughly analyzing competitor sites to best understand how they rank in Google. It could be due to content, which then provides you with plenty of opportunities to revise your content strategy; it may be the technical performance of a website since we know Google prefers the fastest sites available to answer a user’s search; or it could be related to a competitors backlink profile. If a competitor earns a link from a highly credible domain, you’ll need to target equally credible backlinks to try to rank with them.

Other Outdated SEO Tactics

I occasionally hear about other SEOs sharing tactics like keyword stuffing, using the meta keywords tag, spamming alt tags and worst of all, buying low quality links without focusing on quantity. Not only has Google been a lot more public about its updates lately (i.e., the May Core Update), they also have a webmasters’ YouTube channel documenting things website owners can do to improve their SEO.

What are some other outdated SEO tactics you still hear about?

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Relaunching LaurelCrest.com https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/relaunching-laurelcrest-com/ Tue, 14 Apr 2020 20:12:19 +0000 https://www.jeffromero.me/?p=284 I’m happy to announce the relaunch of laurelcrest.com, one of our clients in the wholesale CBD space. The site was built on WordPress using full-width layouts, responsive templates and we increased the amount of content on the site. The company now has a site with product-specific pages to show their potential customers what they have […]

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I’m happy to announce the relaunch of laurelcrest.com, one of our clients in the wholesale CBD space. The site was built on WordPress using full-width layouts, responsive templates and we increased the amount of content on the site. The company now has a site with product-specific pages to show their potential customers what they have to offer, a well-researched FAQ to cover any questions from their potential customers and multiple ways to reach the company with additional questions or to place a bulk CBD order.

Additional SEO Benefits

  • improved pagespeed (97!)
  • structured internal linking
  • proper use of heading tags
  • proper use of image alt tags
  • improved user experience

In an industry like CBD where things are more and more competitive every day, it’s important to focus on the content and experience of the site to engage visitors. With the right keyword research, content strategy and outreach to influencers in the space, we’re confident we can get the site ranking in Google (SEO) in no time.

Pagespeed

Plus, given how Google is switching every domain to its mobile-first index by September, we knew it was a critical time to ensure the site was responsive.

Take a look and drop us a line at hello@octivdigital.com with any questions or to get a quote for a similar build.

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Featured in HuffPost Article About Zoom https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/featured-in-huffpost-article-about-zoom/ Thu, 26 Mar 2020 20:59:07 +0000 https://www.jeffromero.me/?p=280 With everyone staying home due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Zoom has quickly become a go-to tool for video conferencing. Not only is the platform free for up to 40 minute conferences, it comes packed with a lot of other features to make virtual meetings interactive and professional. Huffington Post polled 12 stay-at-home experts for opinions […]

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With everyone staying home due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Zoom has quickly become a go-to tool for video conferencing. Not only is the platform free for up to 40 minute conferences, it comes packed with a lot of other features to make virtual meetings interactive and professional.

Huffington Post polled 12 stay-at-home experts for opinions on how to enhance the experience of Zoom with a variety of different features. Of the recommendations is using a beautify filter to make your profile look as good as it can in standard or high definition output, password protect meetings for added privacy, use keyboard shortcuts for quick functionality and connect Zoom to Google Calendar to synch everything together.

My personal favorite and my contribution to the article is to use a digital background. If you have the proper processing requirements to support a digital background, you can come up with an extra professional setting or something fun to make your attendees laugh. As I work on SEO projects from home for Octiv, I can make my living room sofa look like an office space in a breeze. It’s a great feature and highly recommended.

Check out the full article at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/zoom-hacks-work-meetings-virtual-happy-hours_l_5e7ba807c5b6cb9dc1991ef4.

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Getting Started with SEO Plugins On WordPress https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/getting-started-with-seo-plugins-on-wordpress/ Mon, 24 Feb 2020 17:59:46 +0000 https://www.jeffromero.me/?p=264 The WordPress plugin library has many contributions to serve a wide variety of functions. There are plugins to do just about anything a web developer can think of, including improving rankings through a well-developed SEO plan. While I’ve covered my Fave 5 SEO Plugins for WordPress, I’m revisiting the topic today with the help of […]

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The WordPress plugin library has many contributions to serve a wide variety of functions. There are plugins to do just about anything a web developer can think of, including improving rankings through a well-developed SEO plan.

While I’ve covered my Fave 5 SEO Plugins for WordPress, I’m revisiting the topic today with the help of Jessica Wade and Theta.

Below is a list of the top 10 plugins you’ll want to enable for your WordPress-driven site or blog to improve its SEO.

1. Yoast

By far one of my favorite SEO plugins is Yoast. Yoast allows its users to overwrite meta data, generate XML sitemaps and adjust files like .htaccess and robots.txt.

2. Autoptimize

Make your WordPress site extra fast by enabling Autoptimize. This handy plugin allows users to minify files, compress images and use lazy loading for images.

3. Breeze

If Autoptimize is not compatible with your WordPress theme, give Breeze from Cloudways a try. It’s my go-to backup anytime I run into issues with Autoptimize.

4. Rank Math

Rank Math is WordPress plugin that allows users to track keyword rankings, monitor 404 errors, redirect pages, etc. There are a number of plugins that accomplish these tasks, but you can get them all in one with Rank Math.

5. Short Pixel

Compress big images with Short Pixel. While it is integrated with other speed plugins, I’ve found it’s best to use Short Pixel on it’s own to really see how images are sized down.

6. Google XML Sitemaps

If you’re not able to use the XML sitemap feature of Yoast, you’ll definitely want to check out Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin creates an XML file of all of your pages for you to submit to Google Search Console.

7. Analytify

See traffic to your pages and track performance directly in your WP dashboard with Analytify. This plugin connects with Google Analytics to display real-time data.

8. WP Schema Generator

Create rich data markup without any programming knowledge through a schema generator. This plugin allows you to add schema language to individual pages or the site as a whole.

9. Add Header / Footer Markup

When working on individual pages that require separate header code (usually for tracking) versus the rest of the site (header.php), you’ll need this plugin to appropriately modify the header code.

10. Contextual Related Posts

If you publish a lot of content on your WordPress site or blog, you’ll want to build up internal links to all of your content. The Contextual Related Posts plugin is an easy way to do so. Once installed, you have the option to decide which pages need a related posts widget and you can fine-tune the pages you want to link to.

Lumens.com

Give any of these plugins a try on your WordPress site and carefully monitor how organic traffic grows. With the right SEO strategy in place, good content and a mix of useful SEO plugins, you’ll start to see your keywords rank a lot better.

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Relaunch of The Lynne Koy Group https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/relaunch-of-the-lynne-koy-group/ Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:09:38 +0000 https://www.jeffromero.me/?p=259 I’m excited to announce the relaunch of one of my long-time client’s, The Lynne Koy Group. Formerly known as www.lynnekoy.com, the team decided to rebrand as www.thelynnekoygroup.com and needed a new site to match their luxurious aesthetic. The site was designed on WordPress (of course) with a customized premium theme featuring fully-responsive templates for the […]

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I’m excited to announce the relaunch of one of my long-time client’s, The Lynne Koy Group. Formerly known as www.lynnekoy.com, the team decided to rebrand as www.thelynnekoygroup.com and needed a new site to match their luxurious aesthetic.

The site was designed on WordPress (of course) with a customized premium theme featuring fully-responsive templates for the homepage, inner pages and IDX pages. We leveraged Diverse Solutions for access to their local MLS database.

Take a look and let me know what you think! If you’re interested in a site like this, please feel free to drop me a line at octivdigital.com.

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Featured on LSEO Round Up https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/featured-on-lseo-round-up/ Sat, 15 Feb 2020 17:32:05 +0000 https://www.jeffromero.me/?p=252 LSEO, a well-known and respected agency in the SEO and digital marketing community recently published a roundup of the top 25 SEO tools to use in 2020. Many of the tools are free, while there are a handful of paid plans for more advanced SEO professionals. Of the well-researched roundup, I provided my commentary for […]

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LSEO, a well-known and respected agency in the SEO and digital marketing community recently published a roundup of the top 25 SEO tools to use in 2020. Many of the tools are free, while there are a handful of paid plans for more advanced SEO professionals.

Of the well-researched roundup, I provided my commentary for one of my personal favorite SEO tools, Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog is a technical SEO tool that provides insight into a variety of on-page elements like heading tags, title tags, descriptions, image alt tags, etc. It’s one of the first checks we do when launching a new SEO client because it provides a benchmark of the client’s current situation. It’s also helpful in roadmapping everything we’ll be doing for the client and where the low hanging fruit exists.

Screaming Frog is free to use up to 500 URLs, which is more than adequate for most small business websites. It’s easy to start and you’ll be impressed with the amount of data available.

Head over to LSEO to check out the post and drop a comment. If you have any questions about Screaming Frog or using any SEO tools, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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Some Quick Demandware SEO Tips https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/some-quick-demandware-seo-tips/ Mon, 10 Feb 2020 00:54:51 +0000 http://www.jeffromero.me/?p=248 I was recently auditing an apparel website built on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This platform used to be known in the tech community as ‘Demandware’ until the company was acquired by Salesforce in 2016. The out-of-the-box functionality a retailer can expect from the software is great with a lot of seamless integrations to get an […]

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I was recently auditing an apparel website built on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This platform used to be known in the tech community as ‘Demandware’ until the company was acquired by Salesforce in 2016. The out-of-the-box functionality a retailer can expect from the software is great with a lot of seamless integrations to get an e-commerce website up and running rather quickly.

Anyone who who knows me professionally knows I’ve worked with Demandware / Salesforce Commerce Cloud for almost 8 years and know many of its strengths and weaknesses. And as a SEO professional, I’ve learned many of Demandware’s unique approaches to SEO and how to better them.

If you’re interested, I whipped up a blog post about 8 things any Demandware SEO can do when working with a Salesforce Commerce Cloud site. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions. We also handle Salesforce Commerce Cloud consulting if you’re in the middle of an integration. We provide insight on content assets, how to build the right content slots, product / category hierarchy recommendations and more.

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Featured On Rankings.io Post https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/featured-on-rankings-io-post/ Sat, 25 Jan 2020 19:56:52 +0000 http://www.jeffromero.me/?p=241 I recently made a contribution to a post on Rankings.io discussing the best project management tools. The post is a roundup from 80 different SEO professionals commenting on the organization tools they use. Tools like Asana, Trello and Monday are a huge component of keeping projects on track and meeting deadlines. Here’s a link to […]

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I recently made a contribution to a post on Rankings.io discussing the best project management tools. The post is a roundup from 80 different SEO professionals commenting on the organization tools they use. Tools like Asana, Trello and Monday are a huge component of keeping projects on track and meeting deadlines.

Here’s a link to the post from Rankings.io: https://rankings.io/project-management-tools/

I picked up a few tools during my time at Lumens.com and continue to use them today on the agency side of things. Project management tools like Asana and Slack are key to sharing information and keeping project goals aligned. Additionally, Asana is shared with clients so they know exactly what is going on. When working on a web design project, a client-facing project management tool like Asana is vital. It’s easy to use for the client and it ensures we’re transparent in the work we’re delivering.

Another great tool (going outside of project management) is Zoom. Zoom is a conference call software that allows its users up to 40 minutes of free conferencing. Not only is 40 minutes plenty of time for most client meetings, it also ensures a hard stop for client meetings.

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Links, Links, Links https://www.jeffromero.me/blog/links-links-links/ Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:48:47 +0000 http://www.jeffromero.me/?p=231 It’s 2020, a lot has changed with SEO over the years including the value of certain link types. While profile links and forum links were easy to create and carried value back in 2010, that’s simply not the case anymore. Today it’s important to have a backlink profile of high quality links coming from trusted […]

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It’s 2020, a lot has changed with SEO over the years including the value of certain link types. While profile links and forum links were easy to create and carried value back in 2010, that’s simply not the case anymore. Today it’s important to have a backlink profile of high quality links coming from trusted domains that Google sees as authoritative for your topic.

A quick tip I like to recommend is:

If it’s easy to create, there’s likely no SEO value.

I’ve rambled a bit about links here and there, but today I’m focusing on how different links are valued by the type of link and where it is coming from.

Different Types of Links

Before jumping into value of links coming from different domain name extensions, it’s important to understand different kinds of links. For example, the majority of a backlink profile is likely “dofollow” with a handful of links that are “nofollow”. The nofollow links mean an attribute is added by the publisher to inform search engine crawlers to not give any credit to that link. The nofollow attribute is common for affiliate marketing, embedded within user-generated content or anywhere a site does not want to give out its authority.

While it’s preferred to obtain dofollow links to boost your SEO, your link profile will have nofollow links mixed in – that’s completely natural.

Aside from dofollow vs nofollow links, you also need to be mindful of the type of link – image, text, button, etc. Most SEOs write content to earn text links with relevant anchor text, but may also choose to use images to help create a diverse link profile. The key here is to be as diverse as possible in your link building.

Links by Domain Name Extension

When reviewing a link profile, you’re also going to find inbound links from a variety of domain name extensions like .com, .net, .org, .info, .co, etc. In most cases the .com links will make up the majority of your backlink profile. If your website operates in the US and you’re seeing links come from a lot of foreign domains, there’s a chance you have been spammed or maybe you tried out some spammy link building in the past.

Authoritative Links

One thing that remains true in 2020 with regard to link development is the authority that a .gov or .edu link drive to a site. Google views these domain name extensions as having expertise in the subject, so every outbound link from them carries a lot of weight.

I recently received a .edu link from a specialty college – rasmussen.edu/degrees/design/blog/web-designer-job-description/ – pointing to the homepage of my agency site. Because of the way I use internal linking on the site, the value of the .edu link is spread through the rest of the site to all of the inner pages. From this one link, I’ve already seen ranking and organic traffic increases.

How to Get .EDU & .GOV Links

While I provided commentary for a student of the aforementioned college to get the link, most .edu links are tough to come by. A few ideas may involve sponsoring a scholarship of a local university, providing post content for a university’s blog or if you are an alumni of a university, ask to leave a testimonial with a link pointing back to your site. You may have to get creative, but it’s possible.

In addition to a .edu link, you’ll also want to try to obtain .gov links. If you work with a local government agency, ask for a link. If you built something for a local government agency, ask for a link. You may even be able to provide post content for a government agency’s blog and will therefore get a .gov link.

Google is very selective on the kinds of links it awards. Be cautious about creating “easy” links and instead focus on creating relationships with publishers to establish long-term links in your niche. Try to create links from .edu and .gov sites if you can, but understand they are hard to come by.

If you have any questions about link acquisition or need an audit of your links related to a penalty, please drop me a line at jeff@octivdigital.com.

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