When I talked last week about the demise of Google Authorship, I stressed that it made no sense to assume this meant the end of the need for focusing on author credibility and, in a broad sense, the authority a domain demonstrates – quite the opposite, in fact as Google can, evidently, make its own conclusions about the factors involved in this assessment.
Helpfully, Rand Fishkin has helped detail their growing capacity in this week’s Moz Whiteboard, articulating the complexity of Google’s investigations into what your site is about (and how successfully it is “about” it).
John Mueller from Google seemed intent on depressing every website owner in the world this week when he channelled his inner Shania Twain and said most sites simply don’t impress Googlebot much.
Apparently, the reality is that providing informative content on a technically sound site with sensible, relevant inbound links won’t always be enough. If everyone else in the vertical is roughly the same, Google just won’t be impressed by you.
On one hand, I can understand the point of stressing the need for uniqueness but the reality is that not every buyer wants “unique” and certainly not all the time. What’s wrong with “safe”, “trustworthy”, “guaranteed”, “does what it says on the tin”.
Moreover, this attitude simply isn’t backed up by the algorithm – technical factors, user signals (such as time on site) and quality inbound links are still at the heart of algorithmic calculations.
So, to summarise, I’m calling BS.
We’ve seen and heard before that the search engines believe that links should be earned, not built. And whilst the conceptual message of this, I feel, is fair enough – develop value in your site, content and engagement, not just in your link profile size – there is a practical element to these matters that most rational businessmen can see straightaway and is not represented in this idealised system.
Enter, the voice of reason, saying loud and clear what everyone is thinking – even if you think you and your site are good enough to just “earn” links, you have to accept that you need to build them also. “If you build it, they will come” sounds good in a movie but in the real world, you need to promote yourself and promote yourself hard.
With that in mind, it seems fair enough to touch base with some advice on what can roughly be defined as credible link building activity – that which focuses of intelligent outreach and engagement. Whilst fairly rudimentary, this is a good starting point; of more interest, however, is a deeper article here that asks us to reflect on our engagement and learn lessons from the link outreach conversations we have to improve for the next time.