How to rank high on Google without backlinks

By ramping up your content creation efforts you can increase search traffic without having to secure a single back link 

One of the most common questions the Ghostfoundry team is asked is whether it is possible to rank without back links. The short answer to this is, yes, it is.

While back links are among the 200+ factors Google takes into account when determining where a website ranks, they are certainly not the only factor.

Today, it is more about the user experience offered and the quality, authority and value of the content that is published on any given website.

Google’s ultimate goal is to provide searchers with the websites and information that best match their intent and needs.

To do this, it looks at the experience they receive when clicking through to a website and content is very much the driving force behind searcher satisfaction.

How does Google judge user experience?

There are several factors Google looks at, including:

Click through rate – Google wants to see that users are actually clicking onto your page so it is important to have an enticing title tag and meta description, usually with a call to action.

Pages per session – if the user then goes to other pages within your site it is a positive sign they are having a good experience and being given the information they are seeking.

Social signals – if users are liking and sharing your content it is a good indicator that they are receiving a great experience while on your site.

Why is content so important in helping websites rank?

If you look at the three factors mentioned, they all require top-quality content to deliver the level of user satisfaction that Google is looking for.

Without it, your titles and meta descriptions will not encourage the user to click through to your website, nor will you be able to engage and retain those that do.

By focusing on creating content that provides the information and insight that searchers are looking for, websites can rank without a single back link.

So where do I start?

When using content to improve rankings, your approach should be made up of two parts – creation and promotion.

Content creation:

When it comes to creation, the first thing to do is undertake a thorough content audit.

As part of this, you should identify your target audience and the information they are seeking and how they like to receive that information.

For example, if you are an estate agent in Harrogate, your target audience might be house buyers looking for a guide to the various schools that are available in the area.

If you are a prestigious car dealer, your target audience may be potential customers looking for reviews of the makes and models you stock.

Once you have a clear understanding of your audience and the information they require from you, it’s time to build out your content strategy.

This means mapping out the different types of content you will create, what format that content will take and where it will be published and distributed.

Types of content you can create include:

  • News stories
  • Features
  • Interviews
  • Reviews
  • Guides
  • Lists
  • FAQs

In most cases, they will take the written form but also think about ways to incorporate graphics and images as well as videos and audio such as podcasts.

When it comes to creating content, you must ensure it is authoritative and unique and that it delivers heaps of added value to the reader.

We always recommend working with professional content creators – sure, you may know your subject inside out, but they know how to get that information down on paper.

Going back to Google’s ranking factors and the way it judges user experience, it is clear the quality of the content must be high in order to meet Google’s expected standards.

As part of your content strategy, you should also identify how often you are going to create content and how it will be distributed.

Different types of content require different frequencies of publication.

For example, if you are a boutique hotel and decide to publish video content on Instagram, you should look to post once every day or two.

If you are a restaurant writing about the local suppliers you work with for your blog, publishing once a week is more than enough.

Regardless, it is vital that you ensure all content published is of the highest quality and engages, educates and entertains the person visiting your website.

Content promotion:

The second aspect to consider is promoting the content you publish on your website. In most cases social media is the most effective way of doing this.

** Read our guide to making the most out of social media content here **
But you also want to encourage others to share your content, too. Remember, Google picks up and takes into account social signals.

There are several ways you can do this:

You can post in related forums and share the content you have created if it will bring additional value to the conversation.
Join discussions on social media (Facebook and Twitter are particularly good for this) and again share your content if relevant.
Engage and interact with blog posts that cover the same topics as yours and share your articles in the comments section.
You can even ask people to share your content in return for something – this might be a special report or simply a prize.
Finally, you can ask people to share your content if they have enjoyed engaging and interacting with it.
This, combined with allowing users to share content on your website, will make all the noise Google needs for you to be heard.

Sounds straight-forward? That’s because it is.

Ok, let’s do a quick recap…

  • You don’t need back links to rank highly on Google.
  • What you do need is to offer the best possible user experience.
  • The best way of doing this is to focus on content and make sure it engages, educates and entertains those landing on your website.
  • By undertaking a content audit and putting together a content strategy you can ensure the content you create ticks those boxes.
  • Encourage users and others to share your content – Google listens out for social signals when determining the user experience offered by a website.
  • Of course, back links are still an important ranking factor and should form part of any SEO strategy. But by taking the above steps you will find that back links occur naturally.

This is exactly what Google wants to see rather than dubious links from dubious sites. In short, focus on content and the rest will follow.

If you’d like to chat to a member of the Ghostfoundry team about content, drop us a line below.


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