Can you predict what the future holds for your inbound links?

Almost five years ago I wrote an article about predicting a site’s future and using your expectation to decide whether you should pursue links on that site today. Much has changed in the search engine optimization (SEO) landscape since then so I decided to expand and update my original article.
Sometimes, what’s old is old
It’s interesting to run into sites we’ve worked with in the past and compare their previous and current metrics. Lots of things pop up like:

Old links are still live but the host page is full of new links whereas it wasn’t before.
Pages that once ranked well no longer do so.
Articles with links that were not originally there have been added.
And sometimes everything is the same, though, if not better!

A look into the past
It’s easy to determine what a site looked like in the past and compare it to the current site by using Archive.org.
You may notice a lot of changes such as good and bad

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Auditing customer reviews for organic traffic growth without losing speed or attracting penalties

User-generated content on product or service pages can be key to driving conversions and a fantastic way to add unique content to a page.  
If you don’t have the resources to write good content yourself, user-generated content can be especially helpful. However, if your customer review content isn’t optimized for search engines, it can work against you and delay or obstruct your marketing efforts instead of driving more business.
Below are four common issues (and a bonus) I have come across when auditing retailer product pages and the workarounds I’ve used for each.  
1. Page speed
This is a much-discussed subject, and as of late, it is a mobile search ranking factor coming July 2018. It is key to sync with your web developers on the optimal page load speed, as images, related products and content will impact load times for this critical part of the purchase funnel.
Customer review content is best when optimized for both Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

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Enterprise SEO and cross-channel performance: Activation and integration

In 2018, more and more enterprise brands are beginning to build their marketing technology stacks.
In parallel, over the last year, we have witnessed the convergence of content and search engine optimization (SEO).
Intelligent marketers are utilizing these trends and building integrated marketing frameworks to provide marketing benefits far beyond the organic channel. Early adopters of these smart SEO and content frameworks are successfully implementing optimized content in paid search, email and social media campaigns and utilizing SEO insights to drive cross-channel performance.
Many enterprise brands still struggle to make their regular content highly visible in organic listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). The core challenge of marketers today is something I like to call “content congestion” — the deluge of articles, blog posts, social posts, emails, videos, glossaries and other types of content vying for customers’ attention online.
Building intelligent and smart content frameworks provides something akin to a fast lane: It packs SEO and mobile-friendliness best practices into

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Case study: On-page + off-page SEO working together = success

I encounter many people who believe the basic blocking and tackling of search engine optimization (SEO) execution is losing its value, but I find doing this basic hard work still works incredibly well.
In today’s post, I’m going to share a case study of a travel site whose business plan incorporates a straightforward approach to creating highly differentiated content on their site and then promoting that content effectively. They believe in building and marketing content with a high focus on the end user, and as you will see, the results are impressive.
Disclosure: The company discussed in this post, kimkim, is a client of my company.
Business overview
kimkim is an online travel company founded by a team of experienced entrepreneurs and engineers who played key roles at companies including TripAdvisor and EveryTrail. Their mission is to push the travel industry toward a more authentic and local experience while still maintaining high quality and consumer trust. This is achieved by partnering

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What to get right before launching a global business

Taking your brand to an international stage is exciting. You reach untapped audiences and expose your brand, product and services to a global market!
But with every great opportunity come challenges, and a global presence means time and resources must be dedicated to understanding new buying habits, laws, and, of course, online behaviors.
Today, search results are more and more personalized, and they vary by country, even if browsers, devices and search terms remain the same. With the search engines constantly changing and evolving, what happens when you add the international component to your website?
Before you kick off a global campaign, it’s important to develop a marketing strategy with a local audience in mind. Consider the following four points on how to best engage your target audience, bridge cultural differences and successfully promote your brand globally.
Become familiar with regional laws & regulations
When you market to a global audience, your brand should be aware of all regional regulations on specific

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How AI can uncover new insights and drive SEO performance

In 2015, Google announced that it had added RankBrain to its algorithm, cementing the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in search. Fast-forward to 2018, and search marketers are starting to use AI, machine learning and deep learning systems to uncover new insights, automate labor-intensive tasks and provide a whole new level of personalization to guide website visitors through their purchase funnel. We have now fully entered the AI revolution.
For clarity and for context within this article, I find the following definitions helpful:

Artificial intelligence is a broad field, covering a range of machine applications to carry out tasks that typically require human intelligence. Human intelligence encompasses a broad range of behaviors, so it should be no surprise that the umbrella term “artificial intelligence” can be used to categorize natural language processing, chess playing, driverless cars and millions of examples in between.
Machine learning is often conflated with AI, but it is actually an application (and therefore a subfield) of artificial intelligence. In

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The unique selling proposition: A key element for SEO success

Google processes trillions of searches per year, which equates to billions of searches each day. How do they decide what is the most promising result for every single one of that staggering volume of questions?
Experience shows that you don’t have to be a huge website for a major brand to rank in the top spot for a given query. Google doesn’t care which sites show up high in SERPs, as long as the page lives up to user expectations, which is something they measure on a tremendous scale. That begs the question: What is it that makes a page stand out, as far as Google is concerned? Why do pages rank in Google in the long term?
Ask why
Google factors in hundred of signals when calculating a website’s ranking for queries in Google Search. These include everything from site speed to inbound links to page content. Above all, however, Google seems to favor sites that are popular with users.

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Looking back at 2018 in search: A time traveler’s year in review

Greetings from the future! I’m writing to you from January 2019. Since search is such a dynamic space, with every year bringing unexpected developments, I thought it would be helpful to use my knowledge as a denizen of the future to give you a glimpse into what’s to come in 2018. So for you, this is a look forward — but for me, it’s a year in review. And let me warn you, you’d best buckle up!
(Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Sorry folks, I can’t tell you which cryptocurrencies take off, as I promised some guy named Doc Brown I wouldn’t, but I can say that AI-investment programs sure do a number on it.)
The top stories in search in 2018
The big question for Search Engine Land readers, of course, is, What the heck will happen in search in 2018? Obviously, I can’t cover everything, but here are the top stories that will make

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A year in review: Search Engine Land’s top 10 columns of 2017

Another year is coming to a close, and search marketers of all stripes have had their work cut out for them over the last 12 months as the industry grappled with everything from fake news to mysterious algorithm updates to automation. Fortunately, our talented contributors were at the ready, helping our readers to navigate the shifting sands of the search marketing landscape.
Local had a strong showing in our top columns this year, as pieces with a local search focus accounted for three of the top 10 columns on Search Engine Land. These ranged from Joy Hawkins’s detailed account of the Google Hawk update to Wesley Young’s helpful tips on how to improve your Google My Business listing.
Top honors went to Sherry Bonelli for her comprehensive piece on how to rank well in YouTube’s search results. As digital video consumption continues to rise, brands are looking to take advantage of this trend by producing high-quality — and properly optimized —

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How to generate links that drive traffic, not just ranking

Many people see link building as a way to drive rankings. But, when done correctly, it can (and should) also drive traffic.
Driving traffic has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious potential increase in leads and sales. More website traffic can provide valuable analytics data about what users are looking for and what confuses them. It can also help grow engagement and potentially referral links on social media as others begin to share our content.
In this column, I’ll explain how to identify sources of links that drive actual traffic and how to evaluate your progress so that you can focus your efforts where they will have the greatest impact.
Identifying link partners
In order to find good sources for traffic-driving links, there are a few ways you can go: competitor research, rankings and influencers.
First, find the publications driving traffic to your competitors by using tools like SimilarWeb to find their top referral sources. Not only do these tools tell

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