Lesson 5 – How to rank without backlinks

This is the fifth lesson of the Gotch SEO Starter Course.

In today’s lesson, I’m going to show you how to rank without backlinks.

Let’s jump right in.

Leverage Existing Authority

Leveraging your site’s existing authority is where every link building campaign must begin.

There are a few ways to do this.

1. Develop a strong site architecture

Developing a strong site architecture will flow link equity throughout your entire site.

The better your architecture, the less backlinks you will need.

2. Create internal links

Your site architecture is the flow and design of your site.

Internal links are generally created within content.

Use exact match anchor text with the majority of your internal links.

The point of using internal links to send link equity to other important pages on your site. Or, to send users to a page where you can convert them into a subscriber or customer.

3. Reclaim link equity

There are several technical errors that could be stealing your site’s authority.

The first are 404 pages.

You can identify all 404 pages on your site using Google Search Console or Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

Then you need to run these 404 pages through one of the popular link analysis tools such as Ahrefs and Majestic.

All 404 pages that have link equity need to be 301 redirected to a relevant page or back to the homepage.

Another way to reclaim link equity is through fixing redirects. 

The first redirect issue you need to find are 302 redirects.

302 redirects are temporary redirects and they do NOT pass link equity/PageRank.

The second redirect issue you need to find are redirect chains. A redirect chain is exactly what it sounds like: more than one redirect that all end up going to the same page.

You must break the chain so that the redirects do not pass through a buffer.

The third redirect issue you need to watch out for is for websites that have SSL certificates.

Many sites install SSL certificates and forget to 301 redirect the non-secured version of their site to the secured.

For example: http://coolsite.com/ isn’t 301 redirecting to https://coolsite.com/.

You must fix this or you will suffer from authority leakage.

Another redirect issue you have to watch out for has to do with internal links.

Your internal links must link to the target page with the correct URL variation.

Otherwise, the link equity will have to pass through a redirect.

This creates more requests and will slow your site down (not good!).

Audit your internal links and make sure they linking to the preferred versions of your URL.

An example of this issue is if I had an internal link such as: “https://gotchseo.com/” but my preferred URL is: “https://www.gotchseo.com/”.

This is a double whammy because it’s missing both the “s” for my SSL certificate and the “www” of my subdomain.

To learn more about internal linking read Internal Linking 101.

Broken links are the last link equity thief you need to worry about.

As you learned in the previous lesson, broken links hurt user experience.

Not only that, they also disrupt the flow of link equity!

This is especially true for broken outbound links. Broken outbound links do nothing except leak authority of your site.

Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to find broken links.

Actions Items for Today:

1. Draw out and develop your site architecture

2. Find some pages to inject internal links on your site

3. Identify and fix all technical issues that are stealing link equity

In the next lesson, you will learn the most important elements of successful link building.

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