The Third Pillar of SEO Success? Popularity

Discover how to use link building to build popularity.

by Jason Bagley

Podcast

| 5 min

In this episode of Smart Marketing’s Pillars of SEO Series, Jason Bagley and Justin Lester discuss popularity, authority and trust and how all of this can be achieved through link building.

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Full episode transcript


About the Smart Marketing podcast

Whether you’re a business owner, seasoned marketing professional, or just starting out, the Smart Marketing podcast will help advance your knowledge by sharing the latest in SEO, paid advertising, email marketing, content marketing, social media, and conversion optimization.

Your hosts — Jason Bagley and Justin Lester — bring you regular, actionable digital marketing tips, tactics, and strategies that you can use to improve your marketing.

Jason Bagley is the VP of Digital Strategy for SiteCare and Justin Lester, the founder of Ruby Digital, a digital marketing agency from Cape Town, South Africa.

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Full episode transcript

Jason:
So how do we start this again? I forgot.

Justin:
This is actually a great … This is actually a great start. It’s a great start. We’re going to use this. We’re going to use it. So what are we talking about today?

Jason:
That’s right. It feels like I haven’t recorded in ages, but yes, what are we going to talk today? I actually know what we are going to talk today … What we’re going to talk about today, Justin, is the third pillar of SEO, so this is in our series of the six pillars of SEO, and this one’s all about popularity. Authority and popularity is like the same thing? No.

Justin:
Well, no. So we talk about popularity, authority, and trust, all of which is achieved through the process of link-building. So link-building is really how … Popularity is really about how many people are linking to you on the web, how many people are referencing your website in their content on their site, have links on their site to you. And popularity is really how many people pointing to you. So think of it’s about like a voting system. In order to become president, you need to have the votes of the masses, and this is one of the key metrics that Google uses to determine who’s at the top and who’s at the bottom. That’s in conjunction with obviously the other six pillars. So contrary to popular belief, popularity does not mean how many visitors do you get to your website.

So a lot of people think that the more traffic I get, the better I’m going to rank in Google, and that is not the case, because if you think about it, I can just buy a lot of rubbish traffic and drive more traffic to my site. And at the end of the day, it’s not a true reflection of whether I’m actually going to be the right fit for the user. So what is one of the ways that we can check backlinks is we use a backlink explorer. An example would be Mars. They’ve got something called Site Explorer. There’s an application called Majestic SEO. I think it’s been rebranded to Majestic. And then there’s also AHREFS. These are all backlink explorers, and what that does is almost replicates Google. It goes into the website and it can find every single website that is linking to you and how many times they are linking.

Jason:
Just, does it also pick up … because as you just mentioned before, you could send yourself a whole bunch of spammy traffic. Does it also help you pick up which are good and which are not so good links?

Justin:
Links? It does. That’s a good question, because normally when we take on clients, we do a backlink audit to see if there’s been anything there that’s malicious or that looks a bit spammy, out of place, and we would actually go through a process where we remove those links or disavow them is the word that we use, because it’s a bit like guilty by association. So if you’ve got this, then it’s seen as you trying to manipulate Google’s algorithm and they’ll penalize you for that. So yeah, good question. And then yeah, you can use these tools that I spoke about to check your competitors, see how many links they have, and again, you can also see maybe that might be one of the key areas that you’re missing in order to rank.

Justin:
Just one of the things I want to mention that you need to look out for is they’ll refer to it in the backlink explorers, they’ll use the words referring domains versus backlinks. So a lot of people think oh well, I’ve a million backlinks, I should be linking, but sometimes you could have a link on one website and the way that it’s been placed can generate a million links. So in actual fact, if you think about it, only the first one really counted and the other 999,000 after that doesn’t actually carry any value. So that’s why when they use the term referring domains, it means how many different websites are pointing to you. And that’s really, really important. So keep an eye on that and focus on that more, if you’re trying to understand what the gap is between the guys at the top and the guys at the bottom. And I think we will talk about how to generate links in an upcoming episode.

Jason:
I’d definitely like it, because I see this is pretty … I guess obviously, as you mentioned, this is one of the more important ones, and if I think back to the good old days when all you needed to do is get a whole bunch of backlinks to your site, and that was what made you number one, but also wasn’t there this thing called Google bombing or something like that, Justin, with links? What was that about?

Justin:
Yeah, so I mean this shows how Google’s algorithm’s come along, but what you would do is when you have a link that’s pointing to you, it obviously uses an anchor text, a bit of text that it’s being linked to, and what people were able to do was they would use that anchor text to tell Google what you wanted to rank for. So one example was people built tons of links to Creed’s website and they use the anchor text worst band in the world, so when you Googled worst band in the world, Creed came up. But obviously, now things have changed quite a lot and you can’t manipulate it as much. Yeah, so that concludes our episode for the third pillar of SEO, popularity. And we’ll touch base in the next two additional areas, which also touch heavily on link-building, and yeah, we’ll take it from there.

Jason:
Cool. See you in the next episode.

Justin:
Awesome.

Jason Bagley | Vice President, Digital Strategy

Jason Bagley is the VP of Digital Strategy at SiteCare. For more than 12 years, Jason built and ran a highly successful lead generation agency, which SiteCare acquired in 2020.