In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells Luke that “a Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.” Unfortunately, Yoda can’t teach you how to become a Jedi, but his advice can be applied to tons of different things – even the development of a backlink profile for your website. Although you don’t need to devote your life to it as Yoda suggests, building a solid backlink profile still takes time and effort. As search engines develop new ways to punish and prevent black hat SEO, it has become increasingly important that your profile appear as natural as possible. In order to keep up with these changes, you should be prepared to alter the SEO tactics you may have used in the past. Although you need not “unlearn what you have learned” as Yoda instructs Luke, the key to building a good backlink profile is a willingness to adapt to the ever-changing algorithms of Google and other search engines. Spamming links is no longer an effective means of SEO – you need to avoid the dark side and build your backlink profile in more legitimate ways.
Build Deep Links
When Luke first meets Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah, he thinks he’s merely stumbled upon a pest, but he has actually met a powerful Jedi with amazing abilities. Luke initially fails to see beyond Yoda’s simple appearance. In the same vein, it’s wise to “look deeper” and start generating backlinks to pages beyond your homepage. If you disperse backlinks among your subpages, your profile will look much more natural and will likely result in higher search rankings. In particular, resource pages, about us pages and contact pages easily acquire natural links, which means you can direct a greater number of backlinks to these types of content without fear of Google suspecting your site of using black hat techniques.
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Use Internal Links
Perhaps more than anyone in the Star Wars universe, Yoda knows the value of personal development. By honing his skills over hundreds of years, Yoda is able to become one of the most powerful Jedi masters of all time. You can practice a similar form of development on your website by linking your pages to one another as you build more and more pages. While internal links can’t actually increase your site’s maximum PageRank, failing to build links between your subpages can cause your site to fall short of its potential. In this way, internal links can be just as important as inbound links. While the latter actively increases the PageRank of the linked pages, internal links allow you to distribute your site’s total PageRank across all your pages.
For instance, imagine you run a website that covers the most popular Halloween costumes, with most of your traffic being directed to your homepage through inbound links. You have created a page with pictures and descriptions of the latest Star Wars costumes, but it hasn’t been getting as many hits as you would like. By linking to your Star Wars page from your homepage and other heavily-trafficked pages, you can give it a boost in PageRank, making it more likely to appear near the top in related searches. Internal linking also lets Google index your site more easily, helping it to achieve a better rank.
Diversify Your Links
Yoda displays a wide array of abilities in the Star Wars movies including telekinesis, prowess with a lightsaber, and incredible wisdom. It is clear to the audience that this diverse skillset has helped Yoda to become the exceptional warrior and sage that he is. Similarly, you should try to diversify where your links come from. While guest blogs are a great source of inbound links, a profile made up entirely of backlinks from guest posts can look suspicious to Google. There are other ways to do this. For instance, you could link to your site in your signature on an online forum, or from your Facebook or Twitter profile page. If you already possess many quality links, you could even begin to implement paid directory links to further accentuate your profile. If you avoid overdoing it, your PageRank won’t be penalized.
Create Valuable Content
As a good guy, Yoda would probably build his backlink profile more or less by the books. In most cases, this means producing high-value, linkworthy content instead of fighting to get backlinks from other sites. So, while traditional keyword SEO is still important, your main focus should always be on providing quality information for your readers. This is especially important following Google’s recent adoption of the new Panda algorithm, aimed at lowering the prominence of low-quality content in search results and emphasizing sites that have useful, well-crafted content. This means that Google will increasingly target sites it deems to be using black hat tactics, such as those filled with unnatural-looking backlink profiles, and lower their rank to make room for better content.
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A Google employee explains the new Panda algorithm on the Google Webmaster Central blog, writing that webmasters and bloggers should focus on writing authoritative, error-free content. If you consistently post valuable content over a long period of time, you will eventually accumulate backlinks naturally as your site becomes more authoritative. This is why sites that try to build backlink profiles through black hat techniques never enjoy long-term success. Instead, the most profitable sites are generally those that focus on content before SEO. Remember, black or grey hat SEO techniques are not stronger, they’re just “quicker, easier, more seductive.”
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