What Links will Look like in 2014

Social and semantic link buildingWith the changes to Google post-Penguin, now is the time to dig deep and cut your safety line when it comes to spammy links. Cutting the cord and bailing on this doomed strategy is the key to a successful SEO strategy for the future of the field. SEO genius Ian Lurie said as much in a recent post denouncing “poopy links.”

While this is a bit of a funny way of saying it, Lurie is totally right. It’s time to cut loose from the bad and rush forward into the future before your linking strategy gets left in the dust.

Spammy Links are Dead

Lurie’s post is an excellent guide to what constitutes a “poopy link,” so you should absolutely consult that before moving ahead with a revised link strategy. In terms of how that strategy should work, there are a few options out there to look for as emerging trends.

There are a lot of new things to look out for in the world of link building, like social signals, page rank sculpting, keyword match ratios, and the like, but the strategy of a new linking system is relatively simple. Being human and following reasonable, human paths to linking seems to make the most sense. Google is rewarding the seemingly organic – be it social or strategized – and shunning the robotic, spammy, or even “poopy” links out there.

Meet the New Link Building

In terms of new strategies for link baiting (more of an aggressive version of link building), Search Engine Journal has some basic tenets that even the kindest of link creators can follow to an increased rate of linking success. They include:

  • “Understand share-ability” – build natural, sharable links by making them opinionated, funny, insightful, and interesting. If you make your links interesting, they will be shared, increasing their effectiveness.
  • “Brainstorm frequently” – use your brain to build out your links. Think about your plan. Don’t let any idea go to waste and be sure to write every idea down. Even something useless to you now might be the golden ticket to a plan later.
  • “Find Effective Sources of Information” – knowing what you are talking about is key. Create a database of reliable resources to build your linking from. Work through respected resources, as well as resources that will appeal to your client directly.

Essentially, those link-baiting strategies can be summed up as: know the internet. Getting how it all works is definitely a key of building successful links.

Socially Semantic: The Future of Links

But the world of link building is about to change even more with the rise of semantic web. With social shares rising and the people’s voices seeming to crowd the linking stage, it’s time to take over the voices and start shaping opinions with your work. An easy way to get social shares it to build something both social and sharable. It seems obvious, but it will take work to build something that fits into both categories.

As a piece of advice, I’d also have to recommend working your link strategy into the world of semantic web. This “link building without links” is absolutely the road that SEO and search strategy is headed down. With this semantic flow growing in the way the web works, knowing how to build semantic association between links is key. As the SEOmoz blog by Simon Pension linked earlier notes, “Google wants to better map the associations between content so it can deliver what it believes will be a more personalized and effective result.”

Separating your strategy into links and linked content is going to become important. Can someone who is seeing one piece of content find the other without a link? What holds those two pieces of content together? How can you build a micro version of a semantic web that will function inside of the larger macro semantic web that will become the internet?

Understanding the future is the key to understanding your present, so it’s absolutely time to get semantic.

Are you prepared for social sharing and semantic web?


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Michael is a graduate of New York University’s Film and Television program. He specialized in writing, channeling a passion for storytelling, no matter the medium. In addition to his work at CEM, Michael primarily works in web content production, including projects like Geek Crash Course, a geek-educational series, the Ansible, a comics-based interview show, live performance series The Next Lab Sessions, and many more. In addition, he’s written and edited for the digitally distributed Champion! Magazine.

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