Stop! Think twice before using nofollow attributes on your website

Recently, a number of major websites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Huffington Post started using nofollow attributes on their outbound links.
This trend puzzles me. If you can’t trust the people adding links to their articles, they shouldn’t be writing for you in the first place.
Even more disturbing is the fact that search engine optimization specialists (SEOs) seem to misunderstand how to use nofollow attributes and tend to overuse them.
Here’s how they work:

There’s a big difference between using nofollow for an entire page through the head section or the HTTP Header and using the nofollow attribute on specific links.
I can’t think of a single case where I would want to use nofollow at a page level and kill the flow of all signals to other pages, even mine. And yet, I understand nofollow is being used at page level on many websites.
You may consider using nofollow attributes on some user-generated content or paid links to avoid an outbound penalty, but nofollowing an

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How using search opportunities can guide link-building content strategies

Content and links are still pillars of search engine optimization (SEO).
In fact, Google has told us in the past these components are two of the top three factors in Google’s search algorithm.
By now, we should all know this, but many people are still making a critical mistake when it comes to content and links and how they relate to each other in terms of search optimization.
The majority of webmasters brainstorm, design and execute content initiatives, then pursue links. I feel this may not be the best strategy. Link building should be a consideration before content is published and should be used to guide content strategy.
When search opportunity dictates content strategy rather than the other way around, the results can be tremendous. When you can consult on content strategy before linking begins, the results can be positive:

As you can see, we had success securing links and expanding keyword rankings, and because the content was targeted and strategic, it only

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10 ways to generate links with online influencers

You may be thinking that no one wants to share your content, but the opposite is actually true: Because they post so often, online influencers are always looking for interesting content to share. All you have to do it research, create and position the right content opportunities to influencers so they will want to start working with you.
If you’re not sure what angle your organization should take to work with online influencers, consider the following angles: unique content sharing, product promotion, sponsorships and relationship building.
You’ll also want to be sure you are familiar with the FTC Guidelines surrounding influencer disclosures, as well as Google’s guidelines on the issues.
Produce unique content
Producing fresh content that is engaging and interesting to your target audience is what entices industry influencers to share. In addition to “how-to” posts, consider creating studies and long-form content and developing discussions that push industry issues. Because content is so competitive, it’s crucial to take an angle

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3 ways to improve link equity distribution and capture missed opportunities

There’s a lot of talk about link building in the SEO community, and the process can be time-consuming and tedious. As the web demands higher and higher standards for the quality of content, link building is more difficult than ever.
However, few SEOs are discussing how to better utilize what they already have. There seems to be an obsession with constantly building more and more links without first understanding how that equity is currently interacting with the website. Yes, more links may help your website rank better, but your efforts may be in vain if you’re only recouping a small portion of the equity. Much of that work dedicated to link-building efforts would then be wasted.
For many websites, there is a big opportunity to improve upon the link equity that has already been established. The best part about all of this is that these issues can be addressed internally, as opposed to link building which typically requires third-party involvement. Here

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An easy quarterly plan for local link building

Summer conference season is in full swing, and this month I’m stepping off Greg’s Soapbox to share some in-depth knowledge. With the release of the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors and several studies, local SEO sessions are all pushing the importance of building local links. Even when tips are shared that explain how to get great links, people always seem to come back with variations on the same question:
How do you actually build local links?
I wrote a post here on Search Engine Land last year about building local links, and I usually point people to that post to get good ideas. But recently, several people have pointed out that it shares high-level ideas, not actual tactics.
So, I decided that I should share some insight into how our team works the link-building process, with a focus on actual process and tactics. Keep in mind, we’re talking local SEO for SMBs, so we won’t have huge budgets to create

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The role of traditional public relations in SEO

If you’re doing search engine optimization (SEO) properly today, then a significant portion of your effort will overlap with traditional public relations (PR).
This is because over the last few years, Google has minimized the effects of easily gameable ranking signals and refined their algorithm to better represent user experience. In other words, websites that satisfy their users tend to rank better than those that do not.
Inbound links are still a critical component of any SEO campaign, but the easy link-building tactics of the past have been wiped off the board, largely thanks to Google’s Penguin update(s). This includes buying links, guest blogging at scale, embedding links in plugins or themes and more.
The only type remaining as valuable and effective over the long term are the proverbial Holy Grail of link building: natural editorial links from high-traffic, authoritative websites.
And therein lies the challenge: How do we earn these coveted editorial links? Well, it’s a two-part equation.
The first part

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Organic traffic & link building for small businesses

When it comes down to it, the hardest part of SEO for most small businesses is building links and authority. Keyword research, on-page optimization, local SEO — it’s all doable, and to some degree mechanical. But raising your authority? Not so much.
While the importance of links is clear, Google’s messaging is confusing and unhelpful. We are told to “make sure other sites link to yours” while at the same time “avoiding link building as it can do more harm than good.” So, what’s a small business to do?
In this article, I am going to take a quick look at why links influence results and then outline a simple link-building strategy. The goal is to help small businesses build authority and target the commercial search terms that matter to them.
There is still a creative element required here, but my goal is to provide a simple strategy that small businesses can use to help build their authority and improve their

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Missed link-building opportunities: Reclaiming broken links

It’s inevitable. Despite your best efforts to prevent them, there will likely be some 404 errors showing up on your website for old pages that have been discontinued on your site. Or perhaps someone just inadvertently mistyped the URL they were linking to on your website.
Certainly, 404 errors aren’t great for search engine indexing, but they also represent potential inbound links that are now broken and lost. Or can those links be reclaimed? I have two techniques you might want to try.
Reclaiming broken links with Google Search Console
Google Search Console is free, making it a popular choice for attaining link information about a website. However, as Russ Jones, principal search scientist at Moz, wrote in a thought-provoking post about the true reliability of Google Search Console data, much of the data in Google Search Console, especially around linking, isn’t always terribly accurate. This is due in part to the speed at which Google indexes various pages that may contain

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13 link opportunities to pursue now

Link acquisition is hard.
There are a number of unique challenges in link building, which are made even more difficult since most SEO programs only allocate a small portion of their budget to link building.
Links are still not guaranteed, even when you have incredible, compelling content to share. According to a study conducted by BuzzSumo and Moz:
When we looked at a bigger sample of 757,317 well shared posts we found over 50% of these posts still had zero external links. Thus (sic) suggests while many posts acquire shares, they find it far harder to acquire links.
So even if your content is popular and achieves a healthy number of social shares, links are far from guaranteed.
That’s why intentional link acquisition is important. It’s not impossible to strategically secure worthwhile links for your site — in fact, you likely have a number of link opportunities worth pursuing.
Here are 10 (plus a few extra!) link opportunities — with real-life examples — that you might be

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The Qualifier: Brand Protector, Time Saver & Outreach Humanizer

Our imaginary link-building department is bustling with business: the Link Strategist created a campaign, the Content Designer bridged the gaps between brand and opportunity, and if the Prospector did her job right, most outreach targets should be right on topic.
But when you’re working at enterprise scale, “mostly on topic” isn’t close enough. So now it’s the Qualifier’s turn.
The qualifier answers the question, “Do we email the person behind this opportunity or not?”
The answer to this question is as fuzzy as your favorite kitten. It’s full of complications and considerations, which is why the Qualifier needs to be well-informed and well-trained and must come equipped with a healthy dose of common sense.
Why Qualify?

Brand Protection. Qualification happens to protect your brand from looking foolish. As I’ll explain below, machines can fairly easily tell you which sites you shouldn’t reach out to, but only humans can verify which blogs or online linkers actually make sense for the brand. Reaching out to someone who’s a competitor, who’s already in touch with another department or

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