Link Building will be a Bigger Priority for Businesses
New competition from ChatGPT-4 is only one reason why search engine ranking algorithms will change in the next 5 years.
ChatGPT-4 threatens to change how people search online, helping them find immediate answers and resources, thus users would be less exposed to ads. This would injure Google financially. And ChatGPT’s influence on Bing’s search engine is obvious, meaning poor quality search engines just got a big boost.
This post is about why link building will become your top digital marketing activity and expense. Content quality will not be enough, because there’s a flaw in the AI content ranking algorithm — it still needs human validation provided by backlinks. Read further so you’re prepared for the future.
Still ChatGPT-4 can’t tell if the resource is genuine, truthful or even dangerous. It needs validation from humans, and this is what links do. Links are votes by humans for a valid page or resource on the web. ChatGPT just like Google, removes user involvement in the information journey, thus users don’t have to think or be mentally involved in the search for information. And they won’t know whether the information is truthful. Users must self-validate.
Yet using an artificial intelligence system to help search through data quickly for key information and present it to users is a big breakthrough in search engines. Google’s search engine doesn’t do that. It just presents links to resources.
So will ChatGTP-4 eliminate user-based search and backlinks both?
Links are the Quality Control Module
Although experts and marketers alike feel backlinks are going the way of PageRank™, it’s not true. As Google (and ChatGPT-4) comes to distrust vast amounts of AI-generated content (no human quality checks) as a quality signal, it must lean on other parts of its algorithm to return the best results to users.
Currently, Google ranks pages based on text content and links that point to those pages. This post gets into why links are going to be even more dominant in Google’s ranking algorithm. However, what creates links may not be understood well.
Google’s Dependency on Backlinks
Google has been too dependent on backlinks (links from other websites) for its page ranking system. Those links say a lot about whose website is worthy of ranking at the top.
The search monopoly attempted to go without backlinks in an algorithm test, using only content by itself. The results were a mess. The fact is, links are an important human-based merit-system that validates useful, valuable content is. That’s human, and not part of a computer algorithm. Google’s stance previously was to avoid any human input, as though the algorithm was omniscient.
Links are hard to beat as a quality indicator, because they’re hard to fake. Links are from people who are familiar with topics and link to sites they know truly are genuine and valuable.
Still, Google’s algo engineers did put a big new push on content quality and assessing quality simply by reading it. Yes, there are valid indicators of quality within the pages themselves. Then AI SEO software and ChatGPT came along giving Google’s RankBrain™ a new headache. How could easily determine quality if everyone was copying everyone else’s content, and the AI writing software was creating keyword-optimized copy.
Can ChatGPT-4 Figure it Out?
ChatGPT has a search indexing algorithm that finds high quality content, or what appears to be high quality. The fact is, it needs human input of some kind to assess quality. The programmers would have to direct it, at least initially to a “seeded” group of websites as a benchmark for everything else. Google does the same thing.
As mentioned, it’s backlinks from reputable, trustworthy websites that’s been the mainstay for Google. And factors such as trust factor has to be integrated into Microsoft’s ChatGPT-4 ranking system to help it rank trustworthy content to avoid being tricked by AI SEO content spammers.
This is where the BING search engine might come into play.
Links are Votes for Quality Content on the Web
Links will never die. Quality is always determined by whatever votes for it. Quality comes from recommendations from credible authorities, scientists, and all those who work in a particular industry. Through experience, training and study, these people are worthy of evaluating and recommending a website or piece of content.
And we must remember, even a good website can publish bad content. That’s why Google has tightened its ranking focus to specific pages (pieces of content). This way, good content can be plucked out from wherever it’s hosted.
Which is More Powerful, Advanced SEO or Lots of Backlinks?
It used to be that link building was key to advanced SEO and it remains the most important task in search engine optimization work. Those links (from quality relevant websites) provide big signals to Google’s indexing machine that your site is high quality and deserving of consistent top ten rankings and impressions (they can give you one but not the other).
Google will rarely give you top rankings if your site lacks relevant inbound links to your site. Without them, there’s no proof that your site is high quality and your content is credible. Links = trust, credibility, value.
You may rank by manipulating other factors such as sophisticated keyword usage, technical optimization, and continuous fresh content updates.
Great content then is what generates new backlinks. That and some strong promotion, because if they can’t find it, they won’t be linking to it.
What are the Benefits for You in Focusing on Link Building Strategy?
- increased PageRank or Domain Authority especially to specific pages
- higher, more consistent high rankings and impressions in searches
- significantly more visitors, leads and sales revenue
- greater brand visibility and current customer loyalty
- makes your complete digital marketing effort viable
- you can’t rank with out them
- you won’t rank well in future without them
- they can deliver high quality leads themselves
- it integrates well with a big money promotional advertising campaign
- it creates sustainable rankings, visits, and leads
- creates proof that your company and brand are validated by consumers
Enter the Link Building Company
There are plenty of link building service providers out there whom I’ve spoken with.
In almost every case, the prices are high. For around $US2,000 to $US15,000 per month, the link building company may acquire 4 to 20 links per month. Or, you can spend that money yourself using an SEO specialists with targeted advertising, sponsorships, and creating sophisticated content to distribute.
Believe me, it is very tempting to hire a link building company and for some companies it is the right choice, even if they’re only going to be a small part of your promotion, PR and outreach efforts. My view is that you should never rely solely on any one provider. It’s not that they’re dishonest. It’s all in their limited power, resources and capability. Single providers by themselves usually don’t have the budget or full resources to create impact or reach.
If you can find a really good content creator and an advanced SEO consultant you may be able to make the link building miracle happen yourself. But it won’t be free. A sizable budget will be necessary one way or another.
I’d like to say social media can play a role in this link outreach effort. Yet, advertisers are withdrawing funds from social media this year (other than Facebook ads). It’s just too difficult for many companies to make effective. I think the point is to get what you can from the noisy, social media sites, but again don’t rely on them for much.
Organic SEO traffic is where you need to focus. Build your traffic, then focus even more on creating the highest quality content you can.
If you persist in this, the results will accelerate faster and faster.
What Does Google Look for in your Backlinks?
- number of backlinks
- recency of backlinks (when they appeared)
- domain authority of the sites linking to your pages
- link velocity (pace of new backlinks)
- keyword relevance (anchor text)
- content themes on the site linking out to yours (what is the site known for and what topics and keywords are used in that page)
- natural profile — the trustworthiness of that pages linking to you (are they hyped up, poorly written, low value, containing false info, or is is the content credible, validated, accurate content)
Let’s look at good example of a successful business that is trying to win Google by storm.
The company is Doorloop.com. It is a SaaS software developer who have built a platform for managing rental properties (property management software). It’s used by Realtors, property managers, HOA’s, and landlords.
Rankings on Google are very competitive in some industries. The Google Ads pay per click price for “property management software” is usually around $80 to $90 per click for the top ad spot. Buy 1000 clicks and it will likely cost you $80k to $90k. Those prices have resulted in Doorloop getting very aggressive with more affordable and high traffic, advanced SEO strategy to capitalize on free organic traffic.
Their SEO and content team have managed to build 68,000 links to their website. Contrast that to a competitor which might have only 6,000 backlinks and you can see how they dominate keyword searches for “property management” related searches.
In fact, they’re so powerful, they dominate and take traffic away from all their competitors.
As you can see in the above graphic from SEMRush, they’ve developed a natural backlink profile. If you subscribe to SemRush, you’ll enjoy peering into any site’s backlinks, content, keyword rankings, traffic, domain authority, and find content gaps they haven’t explored.
Doorloop’s content is produced by its founding CMO David Bitton. David is also best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor.
You might say “are you kidding me, the CMO writes the content and does SEO?” Well, he has others writing some of the material, but the essence is that David himself knows property management/PropTech biz and he appears as a very credible, authoritative and dynamic voice for the company’s brand.
Link building is often a manipulative, popularity-skewed affair where articles get placed because a website’s gatekeeper permits it. You must deal with the gatekeeper and get your content placed. And that’s why Brand is everything, as are connections, influence, authoritativeness, and membership in communities. Without these things, link building can be tough, which is why many digital marketing agency managers will turn to link building agencies.
Bloggers and journalists are far more likely to link to an article if it’s written by the CEO or notable authority on the topic — a noted person, immersed in the industry. And with AI auto-generation of content today, Google is pushing for more “real world experience” in your content, to prove it’s not AI-generated junk.
Those insiders who can create these real world experience stories, photos, and signals can receive a ranking boost.
Of course, a creative advanced SEO too can weave such material into posts to meet Google’s algo’s satisfaction. Oh yes, the ranking manipulation never ends.
If you compare what entrepreneur David Bitton has achieved against Doorloop’s main property management software competitor, Buildium, you’ll see Buildium has built up 441,000 backlinks and authority over 18 years. Their domain authority is a 40 on SemRush’s scale, yet the newcomer Doorloop.com has 68,000 backlinks and a domain authority of 43.
Doorloop has created fewer backlinks but they seem to provide a more natural, credible, stronger backlink profile in Google’s view. You can view a post here: doorloop.com/blog/eviction-process-time. The blog topics are granular not general which could make them more unique to Google.
You might think, this is a good helpful post, but is it the best available on the topic? Well, if links point to it, then Google (and ChatGPT-4) might also believe it’s the best.
With 450,000 visits per month, Bitton has managed to create a phenomenal success via paid advertising and hundreds of blog posts. It’s even more impressive when you see that the pages are barely SEO optimized! Keyword density is very low, and text anchor links are used infrequently which means more Pagerank flows through each link.
Doorloop is now using YouTube aggressively, with Youtube videos on every topic possible. They’re even using the latest fast talk style that is supposed to improve engagement. However, for serious property managers, fast talk can be very annoying and affect brand value. Still, successful YouTube exposure will help backlink efforts.
An advanced SEO specialist would write it differently using more keywords placed strategically in many anchor links, headings, and recompose the sentences and paragraphs to suit Google’s preferences. But if you have massive ranking power, you don’t need to do that.
The issue is that Google’s allowing backlinks to determine rankings vs going with the best content, at least it usually does that. You and I both know that if we want the most valuable and significant piece of content, we’ll have to scroll through the search results to find it.
Doorloop’s appoarch is a good, safe approach to ranking well and if you’ve got high PageRank (link power) and authority, the minimalist SEO strategy is great for focusing on exact match phrases. It might tell an advanced SEO consultant that Google may prefer more exact matches rather than longtail phrases.
Doorloop’s using a rifle strategy which in turn via high ranking power and link-keyword reputation, becomes a shotgun strategy. Even when Doorloop is not really appropriate for longtail keyword phrases, they find themselves near the top of search results. It’s nothing new. It’s been like this since 1998.
However, as you’ll notice, Doorloop still doesn’t rank at the top for most prestigious and obvious keyword phrases such as property management, property management software, property management solutions, landlord software, property management companies, etc.).
With that much ranking power, Doorloop doesn’t need to bother with sophisticated, advanced search engine optimization — until another property management software company shows up with a more powerful effort and captures the available Google traffic. Certainly the rise of ChatGPT-4 will throw a big twist in for the marketing team.
Yet it is a good lesson on SEO strategy and techniques that may or may not work. There are many more additional techniques that could make their site stronger, to capture better traffic and leads.
Doorloop shows in its stats that it understands blitz marketing techniques too. Learn from the best!
That leads us to the next point, if you combine advanced SEO, generate amazing content and promote via digital marketing and public relations tactics, you can really power up your success. The result is high Google rankings, tremendous visibility, qualified leads, and amazing long term revenue.
If an over achieving, overly creative, overly analytical search engine optimization consultant is something you appreciate, you may want to learn more about me.
In 25 years of SEO, I continue to investigate, plan and execute advanced strategies to help companies become market leaders.
Contact me at 416 998 6246 to discuss. I’m looking forward to speaking with you.
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