Linking in a Post-Hummingbird World

Linking today is just as important as ever. People will often lose a little zest for internet marketing after major changes, and I can understand why. Typically you will learn some little trick that makes life a little easier, become far too dependent on it,  and then everything is over when your trick—or “defect” as Google sees it—gets fixed.

If your view of linking is firmly fixed on Google Page Rank and total number of links, you might have the wrong idea.

First of all, Google Page Rank is not publicly shared. You are not going to find your page or domain rank anywhere on the ’net.  Google did at one point share Page Rank, but no longer does, despite what many sites want you to believe. They have not shared this information in over 5 years. In the last two years, Google has made more changes to its system then in all of its history. Knowing that so many variables have been changed under a veil of secrecy makes me feel confident that no one other than Google themselves knows what PageRank is today. So keeping this in mind, allowing yourself to be guided by a number that is known to be unavailable sounds a bit crazy.

Despite not knowing what it is, we know it is still part of the formula. An example is searching for “Click Here”. You can see the importance of anchor text, and the effects of years of “Click here to download Adobe PDF viewer” links.

What Can We Do?

We need to get links! We also need to think about links differently than we did in the past. Conventional thought is that links are commodities, but I think they need to be looked at as business relationships—each possibly serving different goals. Even in the example above, we can see how Adobe offered a real value to get all of those “click here” links. You are going to need to find a similar value-adding service to attract links too.

I am not advocating that you need to program a revolutionary paper-free document system and have it adopted by all businesses in the world. But, if you did, you too might rank number one for an ambiguous word. This is just an example to show that anchor text is very important, but most businesses don’t need this many links for everyday needs. A good first step might be filling out the checklist below and setting realistic goals. 

Post-Hummingbird Linking Check List:

1.) Research & build a list of industries that could benefit from you. 

example: College and Storage Units—students need to store belongings over the summer, and the college wants to help students. 

example: DIY Garage and Online Repair Manual—the DIY garage needs people who are educated on how to fix a car, and the manual author needs people with the resources to fix a car.

2.) List out business partners that sell your products or services directly. This will be the easiest, but most often overlooked. It’s important to get links to your  domain when others reference your company, products, or services directly. Starting with sales channels could be a good first step, but there are many ways to do this.

3.) Find industry-related content distribution channels with open calls for papers / write-ups. 

example: A local business journal will often look for news related to its geographical  reach. They have to pay writers to come up with news stories, so they may welcome a well-written first draft.

example: Find industry-specific publications to affiliate yourself with. An example of one could be PHCC Keep in mind that there are thousands of organizations based on everything from geographic to political views.  All of them will at some point be looking for interesting content to share with their members.

4.) Allow your anchor text to be natural. While this text is important, you don’t want to be spammy. The best rule of thumb is be as fluid as possible. If you find yourself re-writing every link to have some “keyword rich link”, you just might have gone off the deep-end. Just watch out for the anti-spam team at Google.


In short, this might sound like a lot of work; it is. Everyday, Google tries to uncover ways people might cheat the system to rank.  It might be in your best interest to embrace this rather than fighting the thousand-pound gorilla. Also, remember that time put into non-legitimate linking will often be undone by new patches to Google’s formula. Considering how many changes happen on a regular basis, going black hat might not be cost effective

Forget about page rank and focus on getting good links from good websites. You will know a good site when you see one. Doing this will help you avoid the woes of Google Algorithm changes too.

Going over this exercise will also help you identify each of your competitive advantages and how to capitalize on each.  You might be surprised at how many you have overlooked, and in the end, it is these advantages that will convert traffic into leads or sales.

Please feel free to contact us directly with any questions.