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Why Can’t I Build Backlinks Before On-Page SEO?

I hear this question a lot! After all, backlinks are the most important ranking factor. Or maybe it’s content? Honestly, I think Google values both equally. But you HAVE to build backlinks to gain authority within your niche. So why can’t I build backlinks before on-page SEO? After all, it’s easy to pickup a few links from a directory! Just fill out a form and a high PR site links to your homepage. There are a few reasons you should wait. Let’s go over them:

URL Optimization | Are You Just Creating Broken Links?

Reason #1 is probably the most important. An effective link-building strategy involves deep linking. That means linking to inner pages like landing pages and blog posts. But a good technical SEO wizard is going to change around the URL on every inner page and post. It’s called URL optimization. We do it to make Google recognize that that page is important to the keyword you are targeting. Here’s what I mean:

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Existing URL: http://www.ABCspacesprockets.com/Sprockets

SEO Optimized URL: http://www.ABCspacesprockets/com/best-space-sprockets-for-sale-futureville-alabama

So, any backlinks you send to http://www.ABCspacesprockets.com/Sprockets will be broken links after SEO URL Optimization work is done. You can do a redirect, but that’s extra work. It’s much better to get your on-page done first if your site is brand new. You remember the Jetsons right? You don’t want your links floating around in outer space where they are doing you no good! No, you want them to help you and Mr. Spacely grow your monthly sales! So, make sure your SEO consultant is planning to do URL optimization on your site soon. And hold off on link-building until the work is done.

Reason #2 – Conversions!

Sure, you can send them to your site now. But this isn’t field of dreams! “If you build links, they will convert!” Can’t you just hear Gabby Hoffman stating that as a matter-of-fact to Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan? Well here’s the problem. What if your page isn’t setup well for conversions? If you’re working with a good online marketing firm, they aren’t just trying to rank pages! No, a good SEO will also look at the human aspects of your website. Is the copy written to your target audience? Is it easy to get in touch with you directly on the website? What about mobile? One of the first things we look at on a website is user experience from a mobile perspective. Here at Webology, we make sure that all navigation buttons are large enough for touch screen during on-page optimization. You need to consider all these factors before you start sending visitors to your site. It can actually lower your search engine ranking over time. Here’s How:

Class, How Can Poor User Experience Lower my Search Engine Ranking?

If site visitors are frustrated or confused, they leave. And what happens when they leave? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bounce rate! That’s right, your bounce rate goes up and your Google ranking goes down. Bounce rate is simply the search engine tracking how many people visit your site, and then quickly leave. Google and Bing want the best content to rank at the top. If your content sucks, no one is going to stick around to read it. So, if your bounce rate is high, you won’t be ranked on page #1 very long. We lower bounce rate by improving user experience. We build compelling content, call to action, and mobile-friendly pages. This is all on-page work your SEO should be taking care of. If your bounce rates are too high, you will drop in rank. So, don’t build links until you are ready to share your site with prospective customers.

Anchor Text

Are you still asking the same question: “Why Can’t I Build Backlinks Before On-Page SEO?” Seriously? As if I didn’t give you enough reasons above? Just kidding! Here’s another thing to consider: Anchor Text. This is the text other websites are using to link to your pages. Let’s go back to our example company above. Suppose you just scored a guest posting spot on the Alabama Association of Sprocket Manufacturer’s website.

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Sweet, you earned some killer link juice! Google will rank you higher within the sprocket manufacturing niche because this high authority site wants you to post a new article you wrote for them. They are more than happy to let you link back to your site a few times within the article. But how are you going to include your hyperlinks in the copy on their website?

Do Proper Keyword Research, Or Else…

If we don’t know what Mr. Spacely wants to rank on, we have no clue what the anchor text in our guest post should be. What’s worse, Mr. Spacely might have an idea for a keyword that no one searches for. I’m guilty of it just as much as any other business owner. We get lost in a sea of industry jargon and we use words no one outside our industry would. That’s why I say Online Marketing more often than I do SEO in public. People don’t like it when you use words they do not understand. So, keep your copy simple and write to everyone, not just your industry. Anyway, rant over and back to the topic at hand. Keywords.

If no one is searching for a keyword or if the cost per click is low, you aren’t going to convert those searches into sales. Once you figure out your ideal keyword for a landing page, then that tells you what your anchor text should be. So, if “space sprockets birmingham” has 150,000 searches a month, it might be a good keyword. If the cost per click is high ($5 or more) for “space sprockets birmingham” it means one of my competitors is spending money with Google to rank for it. Chances are, they will stop paying $5 per click if “space sprockets birmingham” isn’t converting well for them. Since the pay-per-click bid has been over $5 for two months in my fictitious example, I decide this is a good keyword. Now what?

Do Keyword Research or Your Links Won’t Matter

So, now I know that my keyword is good. If I can rank it, we’ll be converting site visitors into paying customers. Now I need to optimize a landing page for that keyword. I don’t build links to this new landing page until ALL of the on-page work is done.

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If you’ve read to this point and you still don’t understand why I’m waiting to build links, stop. Just get off my website. I don’t even care about the bounce rate, just leave! Seriously? Anyway, for all my grade A students who kept reading, let’s get back to anchor text. If our keyword is “space sprockets birmingham” I want to use the phrase in my anchor text. So, at the bottom of my guest post I will put a bio picture with a link to my newly-optimized landing page. It’s going to be something like this:

About the Author: Mr. Spacely owns Spacely Space Sprockets: A Space Sprockets Manufacturer in Birmingham, AL.

Notice how I naturally included all the keywords for my targeted phrase in the text of my bio? THAT’S how you want to handle your anchor text on external sites. Putting in a little sweat equity on keyword research makes more sense now, right? Do all your initial on-page work first. Only build links to pages that have been optimized. And if you’re ever in doubt, consult your SEO!