Inbound links have been a greater part of Google’s ranking factors since the beginning of time. According to Google algorithms, the more links you have pointing to your site indicates how useful the site is to users.

Though Google has a great deal of other ranking factors, most people focus all their efforts on link building strategies, which makes sense, given that despite all of the other factors they take into account, (and there were over 200 of them the last time Google admitted anything), they’ve always said that inbound links remain the most important ranking factor of all. And they are.

But that begs the question, is it possible to rank well in search engines without any inbound links at all?

And the answer is yes. Yes it is. We’re soon going to be publishing a case study showing how we have successfully ranked client sites without building a single inbound link for them, following only the guidelines below.

How To Rank Well Without Inbound Links

As important as links can be to a good organic ranking, I’m very glad to be able to say that they are not the be-all and end-all of SEO. No matter how much Google’s algorithm changes, how often they change the rules about wheat is and is not acceptable SEO behaviour, the following points will almost certainly, almost always, remain true. And if you implement them conscientiously, you too can rank without worrying about inbound links.

Keyword Research

Keywords ensure that your audience can find your product or service. Do a thorough keyword research for your site and make sure you are targeting relevant keywords that your audience is using to search for products or service.

  • Implement your relevant keywords in your title tags, meta descriptions, Page URLs and in the website content as well. This will help make your site visible to Google and other search engines.
  • Explore long tail keywords: they are more specific terms your targeted audience are using to find your product or services. Longtail keywords make it easier to connect with your audience and makes it easier for Google to identify what your site, product or service is all about.

On-Page Optimisation

On-page techniques ensures that individual pages on your site are presented well. On-page techniques include adding metadata on your site pages, Metadata is a few characters of text that describe what your page contains. Page titles and meta descriptions should clearly indicates the contents of your web page, and while meta descriptions do not impact your search engine rankings, they can impact the click-through rate of people who see your page listed in the SERPs.

  • It’s also important to make your web pages as search friendly as possible, for instance, implement well written and structured URLs that include relevant keywords, add ALT tags for images and videos on your site. (ALT tags are alternative texts that helps Google crawler identify what the images and videos contain.) Also avoid ads on your pages, as Google will give preference to sites and pages that have annoying ads or too much ad content.
  • It is difficult for Google to index and allocate authority to sites that have duplicate content, duplicate metadata and broken links. Luckily these are easy fixes with the aid of tools like Screaming Frog that can show which pages have duplicate content and metadata, which pages have broken links on them, and which pages have poorly configured redirects etc.

Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is like a content list that communicates to Google how your site is structured. The sitemap lists all URLs on your site.

  • Because Google also ranks individual pages, sites that are easy to crawl, index and navigate rank better and helps Google fetch useful and relevant results for search queries related to your product or services.

Good Quality Content

Unique and good quality content is currently one of the top priorities in Google ranking factors. Good quality content provides engaging, informative, credible and valuable information to users.

  • A lot of factors go into writing useful content including user intent, being well crafted, and containing useful information to name a few. Incorporating long tail keywords in your content will help reach more specific queries from your audience.
  • The determination for quality content is also affected by the length of your content, and how frequent you publishing fresh content on your site. There isn’t a specific formula for these factors but in general at least 600-700 words should be used, and more if relevant. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and write more. The more informative your writing is, the better. Frequency can be determined by how long you take to write high quality content.

Internal Links

Internal links are links from one page to another on your website. They helps push traffic to other pages on your site. Internal links also help in boosting page ranks which is another factor that Google sees as important.

  • This is essential for distributing link juice across your site. Internal links also help Google identify high value pages on your site by following the links which helps establish pages which are important to you, and potentially, to your users.

Site Speed

Site speed is another factor that Google has deemed important, because Google is fully committed to great user experience, and site speed provides good user experiences.

  • Sites that load faster are beneficial to user experience and decrease the overall bounce rate on your site. The more time users stay on your site, the more likely Google sees the site as containing useful information. Site speed also includes individual page loading time.
  • Statistics shown that users don’t stay on websites that take too long to load, viewing it as a waste of time, especially on mobile phone. You can reduce site speed by using ALT tags and compressing image and video, reducing 301 redirects on your site and choosing a faster web hosting option.

Mobile Usability

Because these days people spend a lot of time on their mobile phones in comparison to their desktops, (especially when browsing and searching for information or price comparisons etc), having a well optimized and mobile friendly site should definitely be a priority.

  • Mobile optimization includes using clearly visible font, and making sure that your tabs are distinctive and not placed too close to each other. Failing to do so will affect your user experience and increase bounce rate on your website.
  • Keep in mind that mobile screens are smaller than that of desktop, make sure your site is well fitted to the mobile screen and that it can easily be navigated on mobile phone.

Tips On Maintaining Your Rankings

  • Keep redirects to a minimum.
  • Invest in SEO tools to track progress and identify any potential issues.
  • Keep up with Google algorithm updates.
  • Conduct regular site audits and fix any problems.

The above listed factors all focus on on-site search engine optimization. Your site stands a good chance to rank well if you invest in SEO best practices including on-site, on-page, and content optimisation.