Jolly SEO recently hosted a webinar where our expert panel discussed link-building trends in 2023. Our panel has a collective experience of 25 years in link building and is comprised of Morgan Taylor (Co-founder of Jolly SEO), Erika Rykun (White Hat Link Building Manager, Jolly SEO) and Colin Palfrey (Journalist Outreach Manager, Jolly SEO). In case you missed it, here’s a quick summary:
Link Building Trends in 2023
Q. How do you see the recent Google updates affecting link building process?
- Search engines are getting better at what they have always hoped to do – get rid of spam links. They don’t want to see links that exist purely for the sake of SEO optimization. They know if the link doesn’t look natural, it probably isn’t.
- As a result, many websites that practice black hat link-building techniques will face the repercussions.
- However, links with a purpose in the text will continue performing well.
- So the onus is on website owners and link builders to ensure they take the time to understand what quality link building is and ensure that their links meet those criteria.
- The algorithm will keep getting smarter, so it’s important not to just look at the current updates. Even if you have managed to trick the current updates, it’s quite likely that the next one will catch up on you, so look at how smart the system will be 3-4 updates ahead and work to meet those criteria.
Q. What role do you see AI playing in link building in 2023
- Use or abuse of AI in SEO will create clear winners and losers. So if you are doing link building properly, it’s a great thing because the competition that is not putting in the hard work will be easily taken out over the course of a few search engine updates.
- There will be a big pushback against AI once Google refines its ability. Bing can already detect it, so they are already pushing back.
- Once the updates catch up, lots of sites will see a drop in their position if they have been indiscriminately using AI to create content or link-building.
- However, there are still use cases for AI in SEO:
- Use ChatGPT to brainstorm the first level of topic ideas. Those ideas won’t be great, so our advice would be not to use them directly but to use them as a starting point to ideate within your team.
- As editors or business owners, you need to be careful with writers abusing it and have SOPs that will allow you to weed those out.
Q. How is AI affecting publishers’ behavior?
- Everyone is becoming more careful, and there is already news of both ProfNet and HARO starting to tackle AI answers in different ways, and one of the people at Quoted mentioned how easy the AI-written answers were to detect.
- ChatGPT isn’t producing unique content, it’s only partially unique and would set off existing plagiarism checkers.
- The webmasters are still taking as much time and precision to edit and approve articles as they were doing earlier, so when it comes to the traditional guest posting process, it does not look like it has changed much. They will just have to be more careful.
- Spotting out AI content will be vital for publishers as AI can occasionally give horrendous answers, and nobody wants to discover some casual racism in the middle of their guest post after it has gone live.
Q. How can people find link-building opportunities in 2023?
- First, focus on red flags to weed out low-quality opportunities. Look at DR & traffic of the websites as the first level of check.
- Keep yourself updated with trends and use them to pitch guest post topics to websites you would like backlinks from. Websites are always looking for good quality content, so if you can provide that, you will always find good opportunities.
- Actively network with people in the industry; once someone posts your content keep in touch with them, do something for them, and leverage the power of reciprocity. Building relationships is one of the best ways to find link-building opportunities.
- Look for places where you can add value and websites with high traffic and high DR within your niche. If you can give a big site something that will get them better rankings, and higher user engagement, then you will get your backlink.
- They want quality, so focus on quality.
Q. What metrics should one look at while evaluating quality link-building opportunities?
- The first and foremost are DR and traffic. You want to avoid websites that are less than DR 10 and have low traffic. Or even websites that have huge fluctuations in traffic.
- You should look for mentions like the editorial fees or paid guest posts on a website and avoid those.
- Go through the content of those websites and check what kind of backlinks they have given in the past – avoid any website with over-keyword optimization or links that don’t look natural or add any value.
- Avoid websites that cover too many categories with no clear link between them.
- Avoid sites that are not designed for people, but instead for robots to crawl. That’s going to end up being a negative backlink, and you will lose traffic if you chase those opportunities. If a website doesn’t look like one that you would spend too much time on, it’s probably best to avoid those.
Q. What tools and/or skills should people invest in to do link-building effectively?
- Outreach tools like Pitch box and metrics tools like Ahrefs/SEMRUSH are a must, especially for a large-scale link-building campaign
- A CRM like Airtable can also make it easier to record and manage your data, but if you are doing link building at a smaller scale, then Google sheets can also fulfill that purpose.
- How to network and work with people, how to communicate with people
- How to write well and change the style of your writing according to the website or the purpose – how you would write a factual book will be very different from how you pitch to a publisher on HARO
- Video assets also help a great deal to get backlinks, so improving on video designing skills can be very helpful.
Q. If you had to give anyone one tip on optimizing their link-building process – what would that be?
- Work on your standard operating procedures (SOPs) – have them as detailed as possible.
- Think about ten search engine updates down the line. What backlinking method will be safe after the future ten updates, and what are you currently doing that leaves you vulnerable?
- Always record your data and analyze it to get insights that you can use to improve your process
While link building remains a vital part of SEO, search engines are getting smarter by the day in recognizing spammy links. So the shortcuts that worked in the past don’t hold the candle anymore to white hat link-building techniques. If you are building a link today, you need to think about how advanced search engines will be in a few years and follow strategies that would stand the test of time. Invest in learning best practices, use AI judiciously, create valuable content, have a clear list of metrics you use to evaluate websites, and focus on relationship-building. The bottom line is if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.