If 2013′s link building industry could be summed up in one word, that word would be “interesting.” There were some big shakeups that other people have covered in various locations on the web, so I won’t go into that here; but, what I will discuss is what your 14 resolutions for 2014 could be.

1. Check Out Your Backlink Profile

If you’ve never run your own link report, do so now. There are some great tools out there — some that use their own databases and others that pull from other sources — and I can’t think of any major ones that I don’t like. You can get trial accounts, free day passes, or just use free versions if you don’t have a large link profile. If you do? Then go pay for a proper link analysis tool. They are completely invaluable.

Sure, you can get info from Google’s and Bing’s Webmaster Tools, but having a system that is independent of those engines is a good idea. Learn how to audit your own links.

If you think you have problems or you know you’ve been hit with a penalty, then I’d advise consulting with someone who deals with links for a living; but, every webmaster needs to know how to get a list of his or her links and do a basic analysis of the profile, even if you don’t always know how to dig into the data like a professional would.

Here’s a list of some popular tools that I’ve used before:

2. Keep A Constant Eye On Your Links

You’d be amazed at how quickly things can get out of hand, especially if you have some shady types building links for you. Not everyone is transparent about their methods and the risks involved — so if you don’t know what your link team is doing and suddenly 500 networked links appear that are all from comments in unrelated forums, it’s best to slam on the brakes before you wind up with 1500 more of them. I don’t think that every single new link needs to be visited and painstakingly analyzed of course; but, in general, you should be able to tell when something’s going wrong.

3. Set Up Both Google’s And Bing’s Webmaster Tools

It’s surprising how many people don’t have at least one of these set up and then have problems that they can’t nail down. They take almost no time to set up and they’re free, so set them up for each of your sites. You’ll see info on incoming links here (though again, I’d still not rely on those being the full picture), and if you get a manual penalty in Google, you’ll be notified through WMT. Last thing? Don’t just set up webmaster tools and leave them unattended forever. They contain some fantastic tools that can help you analyze your sites.

4. Take Advantage Of Easy Local Wins If You Have A Physical Office

Set up Foursquare and Facebook accounts and use them. At a minimum, set up your business in the local sections of Google and Bing.

Note: If you’re serious about local, check out Andrew Shotland’s great piece on 5 trusted accounts you should have.

5. Stop Being Obsessed With Metrics

I’m not saying metrics don’t matter; that’s a simplistic and incorrect view. But some clients do have a total obsession with numbers. metrics

If a site looks like a great place for your link in terms of everything but the metrics, then go for it (as long it’s not penalized somehow). You may not get any benefit out of a PR 4 page that is totally irrelevant to your site, other than a ranking boost (which is still good, of course, but shouldn’t be all we think about). So, if you have the chance to get a link on a new blog that has some great social traction but doesn’t yet have the metrics to back it up, take it.

6. If You’re Going To Use Email For Outreach, Do It Well

This can mean a lot of things. Don’t assume the person getting the email is a man (you’d be amazed at how many “Hi Sir!” ones I get). Don’t offer your service to someone who does the exact same thing (again, you can’t imagine how many offers I get to build links for my site). Make sure offer people a way to get off your email list.

Email outreach is still our primary method, and it still works well; but, we should take the time to personalize our outreach and make sure that we’re not wasting anyone’s when we send something. We should also offer the opportunity to never hear from us again.

7. Look At How Your Pages Appear In The Search Engine Results

Would you click on your site’s SERP listing? If you’re wondering why you rank number 2 but aren’t getting much traffic, look at the other sites appearing above and below you. Would you click on them? Would you click on them instead of on yours? If so, then do something about it. Links on high authority sites can boost your rankings, but you should make sure that when we move you up, you are going to generate some clicks. We aren’t magicians, you know.

8. Ask Someone To Guest Post On Your Own Site

Instead of just pounding sites with emails asking if you can guest post on their sites, try inviting them to post on yours — or ask them if you can interview them on your site. It’s a bit less “me me me” and more give and take. From my experience, you can get some amazing links by being interested in other people.

9. Do Some Brainstorming

I absolutely love brainstorming because when people feel like their ideas matter, they can come up with amazing ones. Don’t worry about making sure that every idea could actually work — sometimes when you’re being silly, the most workable ideas come out. When we had a bigger office, we’d routinely go off-site for brainstorming; so, if you can get outside the office, do it. Sometimes, being in a different environment away from your desk opens you up more. Come up with ideas for content, talk about problems and solutions, suggest new ways of reaching out and socializing your site, etc.

10.  Reexamine Your Risk Tolerance

Maybe you have a giant site that generates loads of natural links, but you are using a shady service. Maybe that has worked well and never hurt you, but after all the crackdowns of 2013, you can’t be too sure. If you can still tolerate the risks associated with your link building tactics, then by all means, that’s your business; but, if you’ve just recovered from a penalty and you think you can go back to doing the same old things that got you into trouble, realize that it might be worse the next time you get caught.

network busted

11. Have A Backup Plan For If You Do Get Penalized Or Deindexed

Whether it’s a great presence on Twitter, an email list that still means your customers are kept informed about your latest big promotion or a successful Facebook page, just be somewhere else. You may accidentally get knocked out of an index, even if it’s temporary. I can’t tell you the number of sites that have been knocked out due to accidentally blocking Google in their robots.txt files. Anything can happen, so be prepared for it.

12. If You’re Going To Have A Social Presence, Maintain It

Nothing is more annoying than seeing a business that has not tweeted in 18 months. (Actually, one thing is more annoying than that, and it’s when a business account does nothing but tweet links to their own content.) If you’re doing social, do it well. Respond to people who speak to you, take care of any complaints, and spend some time giving back rather than just drawing attention to yourself. Along with this, keep an eye on what’s being said about your brand. Google has a free alerts tool that will send you a list of what’s being said, and it’s customizable. Talkwalker Alerts is a great alternative or backup that’s also free. Make sure you’re monitoring your brand and your URL at a minimum.

13. Look At The “Other Resources” Tab In Google’s Webmaster Tools

Every time I fuss about Google taking away something, I remember how awesome the tools in this tab are. The Page Speed Insights is worth the price of admission (oh but right, it’s free!), and after implementing some of the suggestions on one of my sites, we definitely saw a major improvement in performance.

other resources

 14. Keep Up On What’s Going On

I’ll admit to the amazingly time-consuming nature of staying informed about all that’s happening in SEO, but if you’re marketing online — whether you’re doing it yourself or paying someone else to handle it — you need to be aware of at least the basics. Google updates their webmaster guidelines occasionally, and they add to the list of what constitutes a violation; so, bookmark this and visit it at least once a month (especially their link schemes page). Take 15 minutes a week to skim the headlines of a major SEO site or subscribe to a weekly link column. Follow the major SEO sites on Twitter.

Nothing earth-shattering to resolve to do now, is it? (Now, if I could only resolve to do all of this for my own sites, I’d be set.)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building | Link Building: General | Link Week Column

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About The Author: owns the link development firm Link Fish Media and is one of the founding members of the SEO Chicks blog.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • http://wtff.com/ JustConsumer

    Could you please clarify, how do you see your audience ?
    Who did you write this for ?

  • juliejoyce

    Anyone who has a website and does business online, basically.

  • http://wtff.com/ JustConsumer

    I own website and do business online. Let’s see :

    1. “If you’ve never run your own link report, do so now.”
    - Why? If person has website and does business online long enough, then obviously s/he can do it without something like this.
    It sounds like pure promotion from the owner of the link development firm. Would be nice to see kind of analyze, based on study with figures and graphs.

    2. “Keep A Constant Eye On Your Links”
    - same

    3. “Set Up Both Google’s And Bing’s Webmaster Tools”
    - Can you provide comparison charts ?

    4. “Maybe you have a giant site that generates loads of natural links, but you are using a shady service.”
    - What service do you mean, when site generates loads of natural links by itself ?

    5. “Take 15 minutes a week to skim the headlines of a major SEO site or subscribe to a weekly link column. Follow the major SEO sites on Twitter.”
    - see 1&2

    For me, as the website owner, here is too many promotion and not enough precise information, based on studies.

  • juliejoyce

    If you’ve done fine without having to take any of this advice, awesome. Plenty of people aren’t in that situation so I should clarify that my intended audience, with this piece, would be those people.

  • http://wtff.com/ JustConsumer

    Exactly.
    If you would clarify regarding the audience, then people like me wouldn’t feel like you wasted our time.

    This is an example of the smart marketing.

    I also would like to advise you to make your future articles less promotional regardless of the audience.

    Thanks )

  • juliejoyce

    If I wanted to be super promotional I would have written it so that everyone reading it would feel like they have to contact me for my services, and I certainly don’t think that I did that but thanks for your point of view.

  • http://www.GandGTrialLawyers.com/ Eric Ganci

    Just getting into following Search Land, and really trying to learn more about this whole world of online stuffs. Enjoyed your article, and look forward to checking out the links. Especially the stuff about the back linking. Good info, thanks!

  • http://viralcontentbuzz.com/ Gerald Weber

    @JustConsumer:disqus ,

    I found this article to be very useful and informative! As Julie’s articles always are!

    It’s clear by each and every one of your anonymous comments that your intention here is just to troll the author.

    There is absolutely nothing self promotional about this article, Nor is it confusing or difficult to understand. You have no genuine interest in the article or to adding legitimate conversation.

    My free advice to you sir would be to spend your time more productively and stop trolling the comments.

    keep up the great work Julie! Great job! :-)

  • juliejoyce

    thanks very much!

  • http://wtff.com/ JustConsumer

    You probably must be more attentive.

    As author stated above this article was written for “Anyone who has a website and does business online”, not for “president and founder of Search Engine Marketing Group and co-founder of Viral Content Buzz, which is The free social media platform to get help with promoting your best content”.

    It was written for me, not for you )
    You should know all this by yourself ))

  • http://wtff.com/ JustConsumer

    I strongly suggest you to hire professional.
    Your business has nothing to do with this business. These are two totally different businesses. Be professional in your own business, not to be barely professional in both.

  • Arpit

    Great steps for SEO i ever read by any blogger. This is really ultimate post.

    Thanks

  • ViperRCZ

    Great post Julie. As an SEO who runs many campaigns it’s a very good checklist for 2014. Naturally, campaigns to come me in all different shapes and stages of being SEO’d and it’s great to see someone giving people, who might not know what to do with the campaign, a list of things they can do this year to avoid being hit by a Google update.

    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the person on here who wants to hide behind their anonymous profile to try and be clever. Their comments are littered with badly structured sentences that make them look a bit amateurish and unprofessional. Why anyone would find fault with someone trying to give out helpful advice is beyond me.

    Keep it up Julie.

  • juliejoyce

    Thanks very much.

  • http://www.clarkcountyexpert.com/ John Slocum, Vancouver

    Agree the Google Webmaster Tools is an almost necessity. I had a mysterious duplicate content penalty happen not too long after the Panda update. Finding and fixing that sneaker alias-domain, then asking for reconsideration through GWT got the main site back in the game!

  • Atul

    Very useful article. I liked the list of tools to check backlink profile. However, if one were to remove bad links from one’s profile, are there any tools apart from Disavow.

 

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