I’m often asked to do SEO for someone’s site, Facebook page, YouTube video, (which I make for clients as well), and I get asked to build backlinks to it, or I suggest that backlinks are needed to rank.

However, the methods I used to use to rank a site on Google are not the same as the ones I use now, and in fact, may actually be detrimental.

In this post, I’ll explain what I used to do, or what was the generally accepted way to build backlinks and get a good ranking, and how that’s changed as of 2019, after the Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird algorithm updates.

What Used To Work Five Years Ago

The things which used to work for SEO five years ago, or even two years ago, are not the same as what works today, although some of those things may still work, and it’s not entirely clear where the line is.

Backlinks are still important these days, and the quantity is still counted, but the quality and relevance of the links is much more important, and it has to appear natural and not like an attempt to manipulate the system, or it may work in reverse.

Google has said in the past that they would never punish websites for having too many backlinks, as this would simply allow a competitor to do reverse SEO on a site to push it out of a search, but they actually have done that, and have been doing that for a while now.

There are new SEO companies springing up that you can pay to ruin the rankings of your competitor’s site, using the same spam link building techniques that they used to use effectively, five years ago.

What am I talking about? Here’s a list of the things that you might have been told to do back then, to get good rankings.

Build links from directories, manually, or with software

  • Submit spun or syndicated (copied) articles to auto-approve sites
  • Make links from social bookmarking sites
  • Submit your RSS feed to multiple sites
  • Build free blogs on Blogger, WordPress.com, Weebly, etc
  • Buy links from blogs on blog networks like Build My Rank
  • Submit press releases
  • Do guest posts on any site that will publish it
  • Buy home page backlinks
  • Post multiple blog comments, perhaps using Xrumer software
  • Post content regularly on your site, even using software to pull other people’s content off the net
  • Make sure to use your keywords thoroughly throughout the page, as about 2-5% of the text and fill your title and description with your keywords

So that’s pretty much a list of what not to do. I can’t stress enough that if you do these things, or hire an SEO who has not changed their approach to SEO, in all likelihood, it will permanently damage your rankings so much, your site will never recover.

According to IT-Rate.co, some of these things do work, but the approach needed is not a push button, quick and easy one, it takes hard work, manually making quality content, and seeking only the highest quality, authority links.

What Works In 2019 And Beyond To Get Good Rankings

So, without saying I know exactly what works and what doesn’t, I have figured a few things out, and heard from experts what does work in the current SEO climate, and bare in mind it is always changing.

The odds are that this page may end up ranking somewhere on the search I’m aiming for, simply because I didn’t bother to make any links to it, except from social media.

Could it really be that simple? No, it’s not simple at all, but Matt Cutts from Google has told webmasters to stop focusing on building backlinks and to concentrate on making high-quality content on their sites.

The idea is that if you make enough good stuff on your site, people will link to you naturally, and from relevant blogs, and as your readership goes up, the social media activity will as well because people want to share high-quality content with their connections.

I don’t spend as much time blogging on this site as I used to, because I have clients who are paying me to blog for them, on secondary sites I built for them, which are linking to their main site.

I also make YouTube videos, Facebook pages, Google Plus pages, and pages on other authority sites which are already ranking well, which means it’s easy to rank with a little bit of help.

Anyway, here’s what I think works well for SEO in 2019:

High-quality content and lots of it

  • Pages of over 1,000 words, photos, videos, etc
  • Easy to navigate site that is about a particular topic
  • Blog on a website so you can publish fresh content at least weekly
  • Social media engagement, tweets, shares, mentions on social media, likes on company Facebook page, Google Plus shares, all natural looking
  • Links from relevant, high quality, authority, natural looking places, looks like they did it, without being paid
  • Guest posts may work, it just depends on the site
  • Directory links may help, if they’re from quality sites

As you can see, there’s a lot of focus on on-page optimization, less focus on the number of backlinks, and more on the quality, of every aspect of what you’re doing.

Social media engagement is right up there, Google has even come right out and said that they are paying more attention to social signals, although the links from social media sites are still no follow, which means they don’t pass on page rank.

Page rank is a massively out of date measurement which really has no correlation with rankings, but people are still offering the same services that have been around since five years ago, so be aware of that.

Links from .edu sites are still good, if they’re real links, made by a university webmaster to your site because it’s helpful, and you can’t just pay someone to do that, or if you can, it’s likely it’s been spammed to death, and will actually cause lower rankings.