Bill shares that you should be aware of the links that point to your links, not just the ones that point to you.
Bill Hartzer says:We need to get past the fact that we've just been analysing who is linking to us. We need to open our eyes and understand that the internet is not just one link, or a few 1,000 links, but literally billions of web pages. How do we find not just the links that are linking directly to us, but also links that are part of the overall web, that are influencing the majority of websites? There's a whole network of websites out there, it's not just one website, linking to another, then another. There's a path that we can follow. The internet is a very complex place with lots of links - that's what we should focus on going forward. Try to get past that time where you're only focusing on getting a link from one particular website. In a lot of cases, you should be looking at your competitors' links and thinking, 'I need a link from that website because my competitor has that link.' Let's look at Tier 2 links - who's linking to whom. Let's think bigger picture and think about the internet as a whole.
Are you talking about multiple tiers of links - who's linking to your competitors' sites and who's linking to them - or are you talking about going even deeper than that?
There are 100 or so major influencer websites, such as New York Times, Wikipedia, Google, and Yahoo, and they link to other websites. You need to understand who they're linking to, and how they're influencing the web. Why is Wikipedia such a powerful website? Why are they getting links from other influential websites? There are so many other opportunities, even if you narrow it down to your particular topic or niche. Sure, there are standard links in your industry you'd like to get - but let's start to look beyond just the influential links you're getting. Let's talk about who's influencing the influencers.
If you can't get a link from the top 100 sites, should you then get a link from someone they are linking to?
Exactly. If you can't get the Wikipedia link, get the next best thing - which would be a link from someone who is linked from Wikipedia. You can go to the Wikipedia page, where you would like to have the link, and find the existing external links on that page. Then, investigate who is linking to those websites that are linked from that Wikipedia page. When we talk about tiered links, Tier 1 would be a link from Wikipedia directly to you. The next best thing is Wikipedia linking to another website that then links to you. That would be Tier 2. You're in the link chain, so you're still essentially linked to Wikipedia, because they are linking to somebody that is linking to you.
How might you determine the authority value that Wikipedia is passing on to you via the other website?
You could look at Trust Flow numbers and try and figure that out, but I don't think that's necessarily something to spend a lot of time obsessing over. Lately, I've been more concerned with whether the web page that's linking to me is on topic and appropriate. For example, if it's a news website, is it about news? If they wrote an article about digital marketing, then I'd want to be linked from that article, rather than a page about football linking to me. It's not necessarily the website - it's the actual page and copy that has more value at this point. It needs to be an on-topic link rather than having a certain authority number on that particular page.
Have you looked at Trust Flow or some other metric as a way of determining how much of it flowed from second to third-tier links?
When I think of these numbers, I remember how many people manipulated those PageRank values. There was an old trick you needed to be aware of as an SEO. If you redirected a page for a certain period of time to a higher PageRank page, such as a news website, your PageRank number authority score would improve, and remained better even after you removed the redirect. I've always questioned authority numbers. Nowadays, you can't do this level of manipulation, but we have to understand that the number may not be completely correct. There are all sorts of other considerations as well, such as location of the link. Does it matter whether the link is buried in the footer or is right there in the middle of the article? I'd rather have a good prominent link in an article, with a Trust Flow of 50, rather than have a link from a 78 that's buried in a list of 100 other links on the page. There are all sorts of what-ifs, and other factors we have to consider.
How often should an SEO be deep diving, using a tool like Majestic, to [analyse who their second and third-tier links)[https://majestic.com/reports/site-explorer/link-graph?what-is-this-tool] are, and determine their link acquisition strategy?
It comes down to how often you are working on your link strategy. I recommend a thorough link audit every six months, or at least every year for smaller or non-competitive websites, to understand what's going on. If there are major ranking changes, you're going to need to dig in and see what's going on. For a regular process of looking at your link profile, I would recommend at least once a month. You need to look at links in general, not only the links you've acquired, but Tier 2, Tier 3, and Tier 4 links at the same time. This has actually become part of my daily routine.
What's something that SEOs can stop doing to spend time on improving their own second, third, and fourth-tier links?
One of the biggest changes in the past five years has been search engines understanding a lot more about natural language. For example, 'attorney', 'lawyer', and 'solicitor', are essentially three different versions of the same word. In old-style SEO, we would create additional pages for each term, which takes up valuable time. Now, you don't need to be doing that - you can create content that will basically be one page. This same concept for keywords flows into the anchor text of links. If you want to rank for 'London lawyer', you might want to get some other links with other versions of the same word. Making this change is going to free up a lot of time. You don't have to spend all this time creating a page for every single keyword, and every version of it, including the singular and the plural. Stop creating pages for every single keyword that you uncover, and start trusting Google to actually deliver your page - even though it might not be traditionally optimised for that keyword phrase.
You can find Bill over at Hartzer.com.
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