With SEOs everywhere staring wide-eyed like someone just snatched their favourite teddy away from under their noses, there’s no doubt that Google’s radical changes to how they view and value links have been a massive wake-up call to the industry.
You can kind of get an idea about the thinking behind some of these changes, and the general direction Google is going in, from a recent update from Larry Page, which talks a lot about improving search quality for users.
But what it means to SEOs is an enforced re-evaluation of how we build and maintain relationships online and, more pertinently, how we think about links.
A link is a connection from one thing to another, and the most natural reason to make such a connection is because those two things have a genuine reason to bond.
Pushing and bribing for links has long been an uncomfortable but, unfortunately, successful method of building presence online. But with Google’s latest algorithm changes, these kinds of links are losing value and the old methods are seeming increasingly dinosaur-like.
SEOs need to create genuine, natural bonds and links, as you would do in real life, and this means coming out of our shells and getting to know the world around us and what they really like and want to link to. Which is actually a hell of a lot more fun.
New world linking involves thinking about what you would link to, what surprises and delights you, what makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Maybe it’s a clever diagram, funny picture or moving story, or perhaps someone’s talked about you or your company in an appreciative and understanding way or answered your needs in a kind and imaginative manner.
Now think how you can create those very types of conditions and delight and surprise your users in the same way, gaining links and genuine approval at the same time.
This post about Facebook Likes demonstrates the difference between asking for ‘likes’ and compelling like-minded people to ‘like’ you out of sheer joy and, well, the fact that they actually like you! The same applies to links.
Like yanking off a dirty old plaster, getting used to this sea-change in linking will be painful and it might take a while, but it’s a necessary and absolutely healthy change which will make for happier users, better relationships online and, eventually, a healthier and happier breed of SEOs.
Now go and embrace your lovely new teddy bear.