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Google’s New Link Building Guidelines

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In case you missed it, Google has just changed up the rules for link building.

It used to be that when people link to you, the link would either be a dofollow link or a nofollow link.

Well, that’s now changed.

They are now introducing 2 more link types that will affect SEOs.

Now before we get into the 2 new link types, make sure you read the whole post. Because not only will I explain Google’s requirements, but I will break down what this means for SEOs.

The current landscape

The current SEO landscape is simple… especially when it comes to link building.

The more dofollow (regular links) links you can get the better your search rankings.

If you are unsure of the number of links you have or the type, just go here and enter in your domain.

You’ll see a count of total backlinks along with the total amount of nofollow links pointing to your site.

Now, when you are link building, if you are paying for links or leveraging tactics like guest posting, Google wants you to nofollow those links because they don’t think you should be leveraging tactics like guest posting to manipulate rankings.

And as for buying links, you shouldn’t do that as it is a simple way to get penalized or banned from Google.

So don’t send emails like this if you are trying to build linksit’s a big no, no.

How does Google look at links?

Google’s algorithm is smart. Sure, they ideally want you to nofollow links if they are bought or not naturally earned (such as from guest posts), but many SEOs break the rules.

They aren’t going to say it publicly but they do these things. And because Google isn’t dumb, they also know.

Google can easily identify when a post on these big news sites aren’t earned because many of them have signs all over them that Google can detect.

For example, here is an example of a guest post from me.

Forbes, of course, uses nofollows links, but it wasn’t always that way.

Google can easily detect it is a guest post through verbiage on the page like “former contributor” or “guest contributor”.

And even if they didn’t label me as a guest contributor, Google can use other signals to figure out that this link shouldn’t be given much weight when it comes to SEO just by reading the URL structure of that article on Forbes.

Let’s take a closer look at the URL

https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2016/12/26/my-biggest-regret-in-life-going-to-college/#5f74f3a91ac7

Do you see the big issue with the URL?

It’s clear that an author can have their own subsection on Forbes through the “site” folder structure. Now that doesn’t mean all “Forbes sites” are bad, but they clearly know which one is from staff writers because they are clearly marked.

Those signals (among others) that Google probably won’t disclose (nor should they) make it easy for Google to determine if a link is natural or earned.

If Google doesn’t want to count a link from a specific author, they can just ignore it on their end.

So, whether it is nofollowed or followed, on their end they can systematically control whether a link should help your rankings or if it shouldn’t.

As John Mueller from Google once said, in the context of bad links…

If we recognize them, we can just ignore them – no need to have you do anything in most cases.

Now keeping that in mind, here are the changes Google wants webmasters to make.

Google’s new link policy

If someone pays you for a link or you are buying a link, Google now wants you to mark it as sponsored. Not just in the text of the site, but more so through the link attribute:

Rel=”sponsored”

And if you build links through user-generated content, they want you to mark the links with the attribute:

Rel=”ugc”

The same goes for site owners. For example, if you have a forum on your site because the content is user generated, the links that people place should contain a rel=”ugc”.

You can still use the nofollow attribute or if you want you can use a combination of the above. For example, if you have a paid link you can use:

Rel=”nofollow sponsored”

So, what’s the purpose of this change?

Well, here is how Google puts it:

All the link attributes — sponsored, UGC and nofollow — are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. We’ll use these hints — along with other signals — as a way to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within our systems.

Now if you are wondering what that means, Google is pretty much saying that adding these attributes will give them a better idea on if they should crawl the link or not. Or how they should analyze the link when it comes to indexing or SEO.

This change goes into effect March 1, 2020, and don’t worry because you don’t have to make modifications to your old links. The ones that were nofollow can just be left as nofollow.

And even in the future, if you decide to just use nofollow instead of “sponsored”, you’ll be fine.

What does all of this mean for SEOs?

As I mentioned earlier, I would provide my own insights and opinions on why Google is doing this.

We all know their algorithm is sophisticated and hard to game. But, just like any other algorithm or computer, it isn’t perfect.

By webmasters and SEOs labeling the type of links they are building and the purpose of them, it will make it easier for Google to learn how we use different link types and it will help their algorithms more quickly and easily identify link types and the context they are used in.

For example, if thousands of people use rel=”ugc” for links generated through guest posts, it may help train Google’s algorithm that these links were actually created by random people instead of the webmaster and they should be discounted.

Of course, Google already can identify wikis, forum, and other types of user-generated content, but this helps them tighten things up and make things more accurate.

They can also decide to take a more relaxed stance on certain link types. For example, maybe they will decide to count UGC links when it comes to link building, but they may decide to only give it 1/3rd the weight of a naturally earned link.

In addition to that, this also provides them with more signals on if the URL linked to should be potentially crawled or ignored.

But in the long run, as their algorithm becomes more accurate, it’s safe to say that the real solution to winning is putting the user first.

Their goal isn’t to rank a site at the top that has “perfect SEO”. They want to rank the site that people love the most.

Hence, you’ll want to focus on creating an amazing user experience, building a great product/service, creating mindblowing content, and anything else your competition isn’t doing.

As for link building though, links will always be hard to come by, so they will be part of their algorithm for the foreseeable future. And as the data shows, there is a strong correlation between links and rankings.

So one thing I would recommend is that you build as many links as possible, even if they are user-generated links. As long as they are from relevant sites, the referral traffic can generate you sales or leads. And if Google starts placing some value on these user-generated links, it can help boost your rankings.

Now that doesn’t mean you should go out to forums and spam your link everywhere. It means you should go find all of the user-generated content sites, provide a ton of value, AND ONLY IF IT MAKES SENSE, add a link back to your site when it benefits the reader.

Conclusion

Over the next year or so you’ll see adjustments in how SEOs build links.

First off you’ll start seeing companies like Ahrefs and the SEMrush show you nofollow, dofollow, UGC, and sponsored backlinks. This one change will help SEOs build better links and spend their effort on the links that actually help with rankings.

Secondly, my hunch is UGC links will eventually carry some weight. Probably not a ton, but more than 0 as long as they are from relevant sites, the link is within context and it provides value to the end-user.

And lastly, most webmasters probably won’t use sponsored or UGC attributes anytime soon. It will probably take another year before they really catch on, which means for now you will just have to focus your efforts on dofollow links.

So, what do you think about the new change?

SEO

How To Get More Followers On Instagram: 22 Tips To Try

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How To Get More Followers On Instagram: 22 Tips To Try

Are you looking to get more followers on Instagram, but don’t know where to start?

There are many ways to increase your followers on Instagram – some people buy them or boost posts, but these tactics only work temporarily, and can backfire over time.

Instagram has become the go-to social media network for sharing photos and videos with more than 2 billion active users today.

As a result, Instagram marketing and having a high follower count can boost exposure and visibility for businesses looking to reach their target audience.

Here are 22 strategies to get more followers on Instagram without breaking the bank. From increasing likes to posting high-quality images, all of these tips are tried and tested:

1. Have A Plan & Create A Content Calendar Full Of Great Ideas

We usually focus on ideas, delivery, and optimization when we create great content.

It should be no different when we share photos and videos on a business or brand’s Instagram account.

It’s important to take time to brainstorm engaging content ideas that align with seasons, holidays, your business’ upcoming events, and (most importantly) your overall traffic and sales goals.

Although, you can still be flexible and post spontaneously as ideas come to you.

But having a library of ideas and a (tentative) schedule will keep you ahead of the game instead of scrambling for something to post.

And depending on your business, you could post several times a day or several times a week.

So, make an Instagram content plan and stick to it.

2. Only Post Well-Composed Images & Videos

Businesses should only use high-quality photos and videos when posting to Instagram.

By high-quality (I mean crystal-clear) unpixellated shots. Instagram, above all else, is a visual platform.

Businesses can’t post blurry photos or images that have part of the image cut off.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be to a National Geographic standard. It just needs to be in focus.

Low-quality content won’t get engagement and might even cost you some followers.

3. Experiment With Different Filters & Dimensions

Just because you’re a business doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with filters and use different dimensions.

In fact, you should use filters on your content.

The more creative and original your photos are, the more likely people will share and follow your account.

You could also download photo editing apps to touch up your photos.

When it comes to dimensions, don’t feel relegated to the square – use the landscape and portrait options.

4. Use Instagram Analytics To Feed Your Persona Research

With an Instagram business account (which is free), you’ll have access to analytics that shows when your audience is most active.

Use that data to optimize your posting schedule.

Instagram also gives you insights into your audience’s age, gender, and location breakdown, which can be a starting point for your customer persona research.

5. Tag People In Your Photos Who Interact With Your Brand

Another way to be discovered by people who aren’t following you is to tag relevant accounts so that you show up in their tagged feed.

If you own a fitness studio, you could take a group shot after a Body Pump class and tag every person in the photo. Then it’ll populate all their tagged feeds.

Their followers will see the post and discover your studio.

But this strategy also applies to other brand and business accounts.

If you can share the spotlight and tag others, do so. It’ll circle back to bring you more Instagram followers and leads.

6. Optimize Your Instagram Bio With Branded Hashtags & CTAs

Your Insta bio should be used to feature branded hashtags, a link, and a call-to-action, which is crucial when looking for new Instagram users.

This section lets users discover who you or your brand are and whether they will follow you.

But don’t sound desperate or come across as spammy.

You want to let users know who you are and why they should follow you.

Make sure this section is updated when needed.

7. Ask Questions In Your Posts & Include CTAs

At the end of each post, include a clear call-to-action or a question to boost engagement.

CTAs include things like:

  • Learn more – link in bio!
  • Double tap if you want to see more videos like this!
  • Follow us so you’ll never miss an update.

You can also post questions. This will help keep your audience engaged, show that you care what your audience wants to see, and give your ideas for what to post in the future.

8. Add A Link To Instagram To Your Website & Email

Make sure existing clients and customers find your Instagram by adding an icon to your social links or embedding Instagram content on your site.

You can also link to your brand’s Instagram account from your email signature.

And use a plugin to feed your latest Instagram posts directly to your website.

This can be a great way to promote your new account to people who regularly visit your site, building your following of clients.

9. Cross-Post Your Instagram Content to Facebook & Twitter

Cross-posting Instagram content to Facebook and Twitter can drive users back to your Instagram profile.

Users who didn’t know you’re on Instagram and following you on other platforms will also discover that you’re on Instagram since the post will note it was shared from Instagram.

You can adjust your settings for every post to cross-post automatically, or you can do it manually for select posts.

10. Run Contests & Campaigns To Increase Brand Reach

Once you’ve started growing a follower base, you can hold contests and campaigns that can attract more users to your page.

For example, you can drive traffic to your website or sell your product by running an inspiring Instagram contest.

You can either ask users to like, comment, use a specific hashtag, or ask your followers to tag a friend.

When you ask users to tag a friend, it exposes your brand and page to more Instagram users online.

It is an effective way to increase your brand awareness and reach and a key hack to get more Instagram followers.

11. Look At What Your Competitors Are Doing

Another best practice for how to get followers on Instagram is to look at what your competitors are doing and learn from it.

Researching their accounts might reveal hashtags you didn’t think of, influencers you have yet to reach out to, or other strategies that can inform your own.

Also, note which of their posts are performing the best – that can serve as another clue as to what can work on your account.

12. Interact Across Instagram (Follow, Like & Comment On Other Posts)

Strategically engage with users who will potentially like your profile.

Practically, that means interacting with potential customers and brand allies by liking, following, and thoughtfully commenting on their posts.

Start with your hashtags: Click on your frequently used, relevant hashtags to discover others posting similar content.

Another good practice is interacting with those who are already following you. You should follow them back and like their content.

The more you engage, the more you’ll show up in others’ feeds and get noticed.

Plus, it shows you’re an authentic, real account who believes in reciprocity!

13. Don’t Use Too Much Text In Your Photos

In general, you want to save the words for your captions. People go to Instagram for visual content.

So, posting a lot of text in an image is outside the norm.

A short, positive quote or statement is excellent but only attempts to fit a partial product description or long message in the image.

If you’re looking for ways to add text to photos, Canva is a free tool that comes in handy.

14. Never Include Logos & Watermarks On Your Images

Stamping your logo onto your Instagram post disrupts your content and users’ experience.

People don’t expect to see logos or watermarks on Instagram posts. While it’s not advised to put a logo on your content, you can include branding.

For example, if you’re a B2B company posting a behind-the-scenes shot of your employees, have them wear shirts with your logo.

Or, if you’re a fashion retailer, you could occasionally include a strategically placed bag in a photo with your store’s name.

Keep it subtle, or you’ll risk being unfollowed.

15. Use The Right Hashtags To Capture New Audiences

Using hashtags on Instagram will get you in front of new audiences searching for the type of content you’re posting, whether they’re following you or not.

If you have a local business, make sure to include local hashtags, as well.

Take the time to research hashtags and find the best ones for your particular content.

It’s easy to identify which hashtags get the most traction.

When you start typing # and your word, Instagram shows how many posts have been done around that word.

Hashtagify.me is also an excellent tool for finding hashtags that are getting much traction.

You can type in your primary hashtag, which will show you its reach, related hashtags and their reach, all the hashtags related to those, and so on.

How Many Hashtags Should I Add To An Instagram Post?

It’s common to stick to five to seven to avoid looking spammy. But you can add up to 30 hashtags.

Where Should I Add The Hashtags On An Instagram Post?

You can add them directly to the post or in a separate comment immediately after posting – it’s an aesthetic choice.

Some users prefer to add single periods separated by line breaks after their caption and then add hashtags.

Whatever you choose to do is fine, but keep it consistent across posts, so you have a streamlined, professional look.

16. Use Geotags To Reach Local Audiences

Another way to get found in by users who aren’t already following you is to geotag your content – but not necessarily with your store location.

Try using your city or a nearby (relevant) landmark that gets many searches.

When people are searching for that nearby location, they can now come across your content.

If your content is doing exceptionally well, it can even be featured at the top of the search.

17. Only Add Links To Your Bio

Any link you include in an Instagram post will not turn into a clickable link – instead, it will just serve as an annoying and lousy experience as your audience tries (and fails) to open it.

Rather than including an unclickable link, direct people to click the link in your bio.

They can easily click that and head to your site to check out all you have to offer.

Be sure to put your link in the “link” section when you edit your bio, and mention that in your post.

And, because space is limited, use a link shortener like Bit.ly to save room.

You can optimize the link further by customizing it, so it’s not a random string of characters but a meaningful word or two.

18. Tag Products In Images & Videos To Drive Conversions

Take advantage of Instagram’s tagging feature if you’re selling a product.

Businesses can tag photos or videos with product links.

To use this feature, you must have a business page on Facebook complete with a product catalog.

It’s a great user experience for users, and it’s a huge win for businesses looking to drive conversions seamlessly.

19. Create A Branded Hashtag For Your Events

Create a branded hashtag for your next event.

It will give your brand exposure and curate a unique stream of all the content from your event and allow others to connect and engage with your brand and other people at the event.

Leading up to the event, you can use your branded hashtag to promote the event, and after the fact, you can use it to post follow-up content.

20. Repost When You Get Tagged To Showcase Positive Reviews

Whenever a user tags your business or brand, get extra traction from it by reposting it directly to your feed.

Showcasing positive reviews and mentions is a great use of Instagram for business.

Make sure to reach out to the user and thank them for their post and ask if you can have permission to repost it (Instagram’s terms of use note that you should obtain written permission to repost a user’s content).

Most likely, the user will agree.

You can repost manually or use an app like Repost for Instagram.

Either way, remember to credit the original poster in the caption and tag them in the photo.

21. Use Instagram Ads To Get In Front Of Your Audience

Consider devoting ad spend to promoting your Instagram profile.

You can create effective carousel ads through Facebook’s Power Editor and promote your content.

If you’re running a specific contest or marketing campaign, you can use Facebook advertising to push the content in front of more audiences.

With the ability to target your customers based on their interests and behaviors in Power Editor, you can ensure that your posts will be viewed by Instagram users who will be interested in your business.

While some of these strategies may work better than others, find the ones that work well with your business or yourself.

22. Get Your Account Verified 

Getting verified on Instagram (or any other social media platform) never hurts your engagement.

The little blue tick gives your brand credibility, trust, and authenticity.

While only some will qualify for Instagram verification, it’s something to strive for.

Getting verified is one more way to stand out from your competition and deliver a trust signal that your business is real.

To be considered, your account must be:

  • Authentic (you must prove you are, in fact, the brand or business you claim to be).
  • Unique (only one account per brand can exist).
  • Public.
  • Complete (with a bio, profile photo, and at least one post).
  • Notable (Instagram must deem your brand “well-known” and “highly searched for”).

Final Takeaways

If you want more followers on Instagram right now, take advantage of these tips.

Make sure you utilize Instagram analytics, research your hashtags, post high-quality images, and create engaging copy and CTA.

If you use these tips as a guide, you’ll set yourself up for success in meeting your Instagram goals.

More Resources:


Featured Image: SPF/Shutterstock

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