Despite countless claims over the years that have proclaimed the death of link building it is still very much alive and kicking. Not only is it still alive but it remains one of the most important ranking factors and is in the top two factors in Google’s ranking algorithm. Over the years there have been many dubious link building practices such as link farming, buying links, comment linking on blogs and many other low effort practices. Google counts thousands of PhDs as employees. And while its algorithm over the years has been incredibly vulnerable to abuse by spammers, increasingly it’s taking into account the context in which a link appears. Although SEO marketing tactics take a long time to show impact and ranking against high-power competitors isn’t an easy task, SEO should be a critical part of any small business’ long-term growth marketing plan. So what it does it take to achieve a high ranking on Google?

You need to understand keyword intent

Focus on producing content on your site that educates and engages your prospective customers so they keep coming back to learn more. If you get too far into the SEO rabbit hole you’ll start stumbling upon spammy ways to attempt to speed up this process. Automated software like RankerX, GSA SER, and Scrapebox, instructions to create spam or spin content, linkwheels, PBNs, hacking domains, etc. While it’s easy to find “experts” you may want to reach out to, it’s important to remember that not everyone responds positively to such requests. Google has come out and said that HTTPS is a confirmed ranking factor. That said, they haven’t actually confirmed how much this impacts search rankings.

What should you look for?

Target local trade by including place names in your search terms and keywords. This is particularly important for small business website SEO. When it comes to local SEO, it’s more important than ever that you optimise your on-site and off-site SEO strategies for clients and customers who may be searching for your local business. Local competition is heating up, and if you’re not on top of your rankings, you can bet your competitors will be. Make sure that all of your web pages can be indexed by search engines - make sure that they all have at least one link from somewhere on your site. If Google and the rest of the search engines trust you and they respect the content you produce, you’ll climb the search rankings. There’s no shortcut to ranking on the first few pages of the search results. Search engines don’t trust your website at first. You have to earn their trust – and it’s a slow process. Ask other sites who link to your major competitors to link to you as well. You can find who these are through a search engine such as Google, by searching link: www.yourcompetitor.com. It is often good to exchange links with other firms within your category of trade, because these all also help improve your ranking within major search engines.

Assessing Historical Progress

Make sure all the links are no follow if you are being paid by a third party to publish a post on your blog. The backlinks which are paid are punished by Google. It applies for both, the page giving it and the one receiving it. Generally speaking, backlinks are considered to be a “vote” of confidence for the content that’s being linked to on your domain from outside sources. Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. According to SEO Consultant, Gaz Hall: "Google will follow your links, the post and pages that have the most internal links will be most likely to rank high in the search engines."

Improve site speed

Without considering a search engine user's intent, you will attract too much unqualified traffic. You won’t know how well or poorly your mobile strategy is going if the numbers are mixed in with the results and analytics of the desktop strategy. Over time, you’ll gather data that helps you determine which of your keywords are most successful, and which ones need more work -- but how do you pick the right initial set of keywords? There is still a correlation between high rankings and the amount of backlinks, but this trend will continue to decrease moving forwards.