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SEO Winning Formula: What Really Works for Top Ranking Sites

In today’s marketing ecosystem, everyone knows that inbound content and strong SEO are the way to the top. “Foot traffic” comes from search engines. Search engines show ranking results. If you don’t appear or you don’t rank, you can’t pick up those customers on the hunt for new brands. In a world like ours, it’s only natural that search engine optimization has become the name of the game.

But how do you get your website to rank for your best keywords? How do you beat the competition and make SEO decisions that really impact your SERP rank? As SEO service providers, we’re about as immersed in the ins and outs of SEO success as anyone in the business. We’ve tried every technique in the book and we’ve seen what works for websites to achieve top-ranking status – and what doesn’t.

From our years of experience, one SEO strategy clearly rises above the rest. One formula that is consistent across top-ranking websites. The thousands of inbound links are from other brands, publications, and bloggers without a link manufacturing campaign.

The Winning SEO Formula

Inbound marketing is critical and strong keyword integration builds relevance. But the one thing most brands struggle with is authority through link-building. Google and other major search engines use backlinks – links on other websites leading to your pages – as a sign of a website’s relevance and authority. The more backlinks, the more established you are in online industry circles.

There are many link-building strategies that have been tried and are currently in practice today. From the long-ago-banned link listing sites to buying a guest spotlight in publications, there are also a lot of ways to do link building poorly. It’s not just the number of links, but the quality.

The one thing we’ve found in analyzing the data of several top-ranking websites is that their links are almost universally organic.

What is an Organic Link?

An organic link is one shared by another business or website without soliciting, buying, or manufacturing the link. These can come from interviews,, industry news articles featuring your business, and even brand partnerships. The key to an organic link is that the other website publisher chose to put it up instead of doing so on your dime.

Unlike buying or creating backlinks, organic links also provide more inherent value to the reader because the link is organically built into the content. For example, if a real estate brand lists all the seafood restaurants in the area and yours is mentioned, that link is useful to readers who might be craving nearby seafood. But the same is true of a business directory. If you join a local business association, there will likely be a natural, useful website link as part of your listing for the use of local residents and tourists.

What Makes Organic Links Special to SEO Success?

Why are organic links so important to great SEO? Good question. This is a pattern we recently noticed: Many of our top-ranking clients have primarily organic backlinks – but have focused very little on link-building campaigns or techniques.

There is an inverse relationship between link manufacturing and organic links. It’s the whole approach to building authority for the website. Those brands that don’t focus on manufacturing links are instead focused on building authority through high-quality content and business community involvement. Their links come from content and activity, therefore are more authentic and powerful than a bought link buried on a back page.

Interestingly, organic links are also more affordable. Why, you ask? Because buying links has become a shake-down.

Why Buying Links is Bad SEO

As great as organic links are, their importance also comes from the problems related to buying links. If you want a single SEO rule-of-thumb, it’s that Google hates link buying. From the earliest days of search engine optimization tactics – back when keyword stuffing still worked – link-building consisted of buying a spot on massive link pages. This is what you might call a manufactured link where hundreds of websites got their backlink from completely valueless web pages. Only a few even bothered to configure themselves as “directories”.

Needless to say, one of the older Google algorithm updates swatted link-buying in all its back-then existing forms. Google hates link buying so much that, for a while, even guest posting was on the watch-list and valueless guest posts still get penalized.

The Unbelievable Cost of Legitimate Link Buying

The legitimate way to cultivate backlinks is guest-posting. This is friendly and casual with a similarly-sized business partner. But if you’re trying to buy a guest post or a mention on a major publication, you’ll have to pay. A Lot.

It can cost thousands of dollars for a single link on a major or niche online publication. To be completely frank, your ad spend would go further in almost any other direction.

How to Build Organic Links for a Powerful Increase in SEO

So just how do these top-ranking sites build such powerful backlink strategies without actually having a backlink strategy? The answer is partnerships and networking. Instead of asking for links, they build a network of branding partners, supply chain partners, local business coalition members, professional association members, and non-profit causes. Because when your business is woven into a network of other brands, your news is their news. When they write about their community, they’ll link back to you.

One helpful place to start is HelpAReporter.com, a place to feed interesting news to reports looking for a new story.

Here are a few things you can do to build your brand’s organic links:

  • Join the local business association
  • Encourage your team to join professional associations and attend conferences
  • Get involved in community events
  • Get involved with a non-profit cause
  • Build marketing partnerships with your supply-chain partners
  • Find synergistic brands to build marketing partnerships
  • Partner with an influencer who offers meaningful content

Going Organic With Your SEO

Here at Ulistic LP, we understand the importance of organic keyword integration, organic anchor calls to action, and organic link-building. The more authentic each stage of your SEO becomes, the more favorably Google and other search engines will rank your pages. With the latest algorithm update focused primarily on user experience, every link that is inherently valuable to the reader in context is another step up the page ranking to the top of your keywords.

Ready to take your SEO strategy and link-building approach to the next level? So are we. Contact Ulistic LP today to consult on the best steps to improve your website’s ranking and revenue.

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