Since the first days of internet search, Google has leveraged links as a method of assessing the reputation, relevance, and credibility of online web pages. Generally, the more links pointing to a specific website or page, especially links that came from high-ranking web pages, the better that site or page would rank in Google search.
As Google’s 1st page is the main target of the majority of webmasters and marketing specialists, lots of SEO strategies have been developed. People have started to cheat the system, launching digital backlink creation tools and sending thousands of spammy links in order to manipulate the search crawlers.
However, both Google and the web have evolved to a point where these black-hat tactics are almost dead. Most of the big algorithmic changes implemented by Google during the last several years were meant to crack down the cheaters and manipulators that were making good bucks off their ranked pages. Updates like Penguin or Fred specifically introduced rules that would severely penalize web pages that have spammy links.
Until now, links have appeared to be the most important SEO aspect for optimizing your pages for Google. However, times are changing and the new “methods” and “features” suddenly become influencing SEO ranking factors.
Well, recently, there have been many speculations concerning the major search engines (Google, Bing), which seem to be working on a new, more reliable way of gauging the relevancy of web pages. I’m talking about linkless backlinks, the short-term future of SEO.
What are Linkless Backlinks?
Linkless backlinks or linkless mentions are simply mentions of a website or brand that have no actual link attached to the keywords. For example, if I were to give Google a linkless mention, I’d leave the keyword “Google” without a link, just like I did in this sentence.
Back in Google’s first years, these links carried no value or worth. In the recent years, however, most search engines have started to develop and optimize new and better ways of assessing the relevancy of links and mentions, using intention and sentiment indicators coming from the search users.
A few examples of linkless backlinks:
- A business or a brand mentioned in a social news story without a link attached
- A business or a brand mentioned in a product reviews
- When your brand is mentioned in forums, Q&A platforms, or blog comments without a link
- When your brand or business is mentioned in podcasts or videos, transcripts make it easy for the crawlers to understand the mentions.
A piece of advice…
Google treats both links and linkless mentions with a great amount of care. Spam is the number one enemy, so hundreds of employees are consistently working to improve Google’s algorithms so that webmaster can no longer use fraudulent link-building techniques.
That’s exactly why you should never try to acquire linkless backlinks in an unnatural way. Don’t invest in black-hat SEO services and don’t try to be less than you are. That means you should focus on improving your content’s quality and brand’s reputation instead of trying to cheat the system.
Most SEO professionals are skeptical when it comes to “new”, “groundbreaking”, or “game-shifting” ranking indicators, as there are so many speculations that have led to nowhere good. Well, let’s point our attention to the actual evidence that points the importance of linkless mentions in the nearest future.
- Both Google and Bing Have Admitted It
During his keynote speech in September 2017, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes suggested that high-quality content that is cited on the web (including mentions on social media) will help webmasters “do just great”.
During SMX West 2016, Bing’s former product manager Duane Forrester notes that linkless backlinks (she calls it unlinked mentions) might be as powerful and effective as the normal, linked backlinks. This only confirms that Bing’s been working on this major change sooner than we expected.
- Google Patents Clearly Point to It
The Panda patent, launched by Google in 2014, points out that “implied links”, another definition for linkless mentions, might have the same impact just like the good traditional backlinks do.
Linkless Backlinking Strategies, Tips, and Tricks
As new changes are coming, we must get ready and adapt to the latest practices, updates, and clues that Google’s representatives consistently provide us with during their speeches. Here are some linkless linking strategies, tips, and tricks.
1. Use the Name of Your Business Every Time You Post
Probably the best way to promote your brand or business with linkless backlinks all the time is to include your brand’s name into all of your guest posts, and basically into all the content that’ll be published anywhere outside your website, including on social media channels.
This simple yet effective strategy helps you develop your brand’s imagine naturally, without triggering any suspicions or even penalties from the search engines.
2. Encourage Users to Leave Customer Reviews
All the customer reviews addressed to your brand become very important from an SEO standpoint of view. When people discuss and recommend brands and products, they almost never use links. In fact, they simply mention the brand and that’s it.
Now that you know the potential of linkless mentions, you should improve your content and products’ quality to generate more customer testimonials and reviews. Moreover, you should add more CTAs that ask the user to leave a comment or a review instead of anything else.
3. Track Brand Mentions
Besides tracking your backlinks, you’ll soon need to track your brand mentions. No worries, as plenty of relevant monitoring tools are already addressing and solving this need. These tools allow you to create alerts that point you to the source of the mentions. Moreover, most software will allow you to assess the reputation and value and authority of each page that mentions your brand.
4. Quickly Reply to Customers’ Queries
The link monitor tool will give you the exact URL of the page that has mentioned your website or business name. Ideally, you should reply to all the queries that allow for an answer. For example, if someone talks about your products on a forum, you should immediately sign-up and contribute to the discussion.
If they mention you in an article, you can leave a relevant comment that might be useful to others in time.
5. Track Your Competitor’s Activity and Strategies
It’s not just you who will start working on linkless backlink strategies. Your competitors might have already started, so a good way of catching up is to research your competition in order to see what they’re up to.
You may track their brand mentions and see where they get them from, and you may also detect patterns that show you what strategies they leverage in order to generate more mentions. Use your competition to discover new strategies and twists.
I’ll give you one more piece of advice, and that is not to neglect the traditional backlinks. You should still build quality and natural links, as they’ll still be important indicators for rank growth. The best you could do is to start perceiving your future SEO game while looking at the bigger picture, as you must soon figure out the proper balance between linkless and normal link-building for your brand or business.
Guest Post By:
Aarif Habeeb – an SEO Expert in jaipur.