As far as basic tenants of SEO practice go, creating a quality link profile for a client’s site (or yours) is fundamental to the success of any SEO campaign. As basic as this practice is in the SEO world, it is astounding at how complicated many SEO’s seem determined to make it. Which is why me and the guys over at Diversity It is better to receive individual links from a wide range of websites rather than many links from a single website. This (generally) creates more “link-juice” for your client’s website, and promotes better rankings (and therefore traffic). With this in mind, let’s take a look at what makes a “poor” link by these definitions: A poor link will: Come from a notoriously spammy website which takes a “quantity over quality” approach Be gained simply for the sake of getting a link, not based on relevance to your topic material Come from the same domain as another link you gained previously To expand on the points above, it has become widely accepted that Google has made precisely zero allowance for spam-filled websites which worked so well for so many SEO’s in the past. Creating a backlink profile through these channels became a one-way ticket to failure after the adoption of Penguin. By this same argument, creating multiple links through a single domain has likewise become a risky choice unless properly managed. That is an argument for another article. Lastly, and perhaps one of the most commonly-made mistakes in creating a strong link profile, is the fact that many SEO’s ascribe to the “a link is a link” mindset, when their rankings would probably be better served by seeking out fewer, higher quality links with direct relevance to the anchor text of their client’s websites. Most people in the SEO industry already know about this and have likely made alterations to their strategies in order to achieve success, so let’s take a look at what makes a “good” link. When it comes to acquiring beneficial links, there are several points upon which most SEO’s will agree. A good link will: Come from an authoritative resource on keywords you are attempting to rank for Come from a number of relevant websites, each with high trust flow and PageRank scores Be somewhat “difficult” to attain To expand on the above points, let’s begin by assuming that there are few authoritative resources on any given topic or keyword, and that your goal as an SEO is to acquire the best links that you possibly can for yourself or your clients. This seems very straightforward in theory, but in practice many SEO’s have moved so far beyond these tenants that they can get lost in the intricacies of SEO without taking care of the basics. One factor I like to consider is the difficulty in acquiring a link from a website. If they are practically offering it to me on a platter, I find myself doubting the quality of the link until I have done proper research to determine the authority behind it. Websites with high editorial control are less likely to pass on any form of authority to websites they do not deem worthy of it. This is why this process is called “earning” a link. It takes work, dedication, knowledge and resources that others are looking for. If you bring nothing to the table, there is no reason for the owner of an authoritative website to consider your link request. There are many ways to acquire links. I have listed some of my favorite approaches below to help you determine which approach might work best for you. Acquiring links through Whitespark Link Prospector The Link Prospector tool offered by Whitespark is one of my go-to link-building tools. By creating a campaign for your client’s website, and using keywords you are attempting to rank for, you can use this tool to identify prospective links with relevancy to your website. It takes a bit of elbow grease and determination, but this has always worked extremely well for me. Gaining Citations Through Bright Local Citation Tracker (tools.brightlocal.com/seo-tools) Another “grindstone” approach is collecting citations for your clients through a citation tool such as Bright Local’s Citation Tracker. The beauty of this tool is that it lists your current citations and offers suggestions for future citations you might try to acquire for your clients. These citations pass on “link-juice” and are extremely simple to acquire. You just have to be willing to take the time and be patient during this process. Improved content A natural way of gaining links is to create exceptional content for blogs or pages on your website. If you can create content capable of making you an authoritative source online, over time other website owners will attempt to approach you for links, which is actually an excellent way to build up your link profile. This is an extremely time-consuming process, but also one of the best ways to rank your website naturally. Guest Posting Guest posting is the process of creating content for another website with the potential to gain a link for yourself in return. This requires building a relationship with website owners to the extent that they are willing to let you post original content on their website. You may not earn a link the first time doing this, but as you develop your relationship with the website owner, the chances of you receiving a strong backlink increase. This is well worth the time if you have truly unique content to share with back-linking prospects. Social Sharing For Links Social media is quickly becoming one of the fastest ways to build and retain a following for a brand or product. It is also a terrific way to develop traffic and rankings if it is approached correctly. There are too many guides out there geared towards creating a powerful link profile through social media to address them all here. It should be said that social sharing does not directly affect your link profile, but it is an excellent supplemental approach to create followers, hype and brand awareness, which are stepping stones towards notoriety and link-building. While there are all basic and widely-accepted principles of link-building, I felt that it was necessary to take a step back from the complicated processes some SEO’s go through to acquire new links and get back to basics. By following the tips and suggestions in this article, even an inexperienced SEO will be able to create a fundamentally sound link profile for their site or for their clients. Remember to start with a solid base and develop your own style to compliment it through experience and trial and error. Creating Optimized Content For A Website Content creation is fundamental to each and every SEO campaign. When it comes down to brass tacks, content is what drives a website. Every trick in the SEO book will generally not make up for poor content for any significant duration of time. This article will address the do’s and don’ts of content creation so you will know what to look for when you are producing content for a client or your own website. When it comes to content, there is an overriding mantra that every SEO knows: “Content is King” Despite being so well-known as a rule of thumb for SEO’s big and small, there still seems to be a wide variety of beliefs when it comes to what makes content “good” or “bad”. There are some general rules that most people will agree on, however. On average, good content: Is Clearly Relevant To The Title Of The Article – Good content is factually based and typically holds direct relevance to its title. For example, an article titled “The Best Laptops of 2014” which focuses on speed boats is unlikely to rank very well because it does not hold much relevance to the topic it claims to. Think about what your readers will want to gain from reading your article, and give it to them. One question I like to ask myself is, “If I was searching these terms on Google, what would I want to find?” If you ask yourself this question before beginning any content, you will succeed more often than not in producing good content. Features A Meta Description Which Will Entice Searchers To Click-Through To Your Website –While meta descriptions have been limited in terms of their ability to influence ranking on their own, they are an exceptionally powerful tool when it comes to creating readership potential. In other words, this is the first time your prospective readers will be exposed to you, and this short description of your content may determine whether or not they click-through to your website. It is worth putting some time into thinking about your meta descriptions as it is a chance to sell yourself before your readers even begin viewing your article. Is Not Duplicated From Another Website – This goes without saying. If you are simply copying content from other websites and placing it on your website, you will not rank well at all. Originality, quality and uniqueness are key factors for developing powerful and successful content. It is worth using a plagiarism detection tool such as Copyscape (copyscape.com) to determine the integrity of an article before posting and indexing it. Creates Positive Signals For Google To Register – Google crawls websites on a constant basis, and registers user reactions to search results it provides. If your website shows a high bounce rate, Google interprets this as a signal that most users who clicked-through to your site did not find what they were looking for. This reflects negatively upon you, and your website will suffer as a result. This is what it is important to be clear about what your content is meant to achieve, and then providing exactly that. Features Keywords In A Natural Way – One of the most common mistakes in the SEO world when it comes to content production is assuming that a certain “keyword density” is required for optimized ranking. With the initiation of Google Panda, this has ceased to be a significant factor in rank-ability. Instead, Google has provided criteria for better ranking potential for search results which effectively reward natural, research-based content over content which features heavy keyword usage. In other words, ensure that your keywords are front and center in your title, ensure that they are presented in your content, but only where you would naturally use them in normal conversation. Lastly, and perhaps unknown to many content producers, is that these keywords do NOT have to appear in the body of the content in the same way the keyword search might be conducted. For example, an article titled “The Best Chinese Restaurant In New York” might appear for search terms such as “New York Chinese Restaurants”. To simplify: just use your keywords in your content as if you were holding a normal conversation with someone. Engages The Reader And Elicits A Response – The point of content is to get users to perform an action. Whether you want them to comment in a blog capacity, to purchase a service or product you are reviewing, or to stay on the website as long as possible to help with your rankings, there is a goal to creating any form of content. Your goal as the content producer is to create a product that people will naturally want to take action upon once they have completed reading it. Ensure that you keep your paragraphs shorter than 5 sentences each. Limit your sentences to 12 words or less. Do not mince or waste words. Keeping it short and sweet, with impactful and factual information is a great way to increase reader satisfaction signals. Give your prospective readers what you think they would want. Always try to funnel them towards your end-goal as subtly as possible. These 6 tips for creating user-friendly, quality content have served me well and will lead to you creating content that is well-reviewed by Google Panda. This will culminate in content that will stand the test of time and permit you to create a solid base for your future website. Just remember that there are both mechanical and creative aspects to all content, and you will have to balance your approach between the two to create content that has the potential to go viral and create brand awareness for you or your clients. Feel free to tinker with this approach and happy writing! 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