Linkless Mentions and Search Engine Optimization: An Overview

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Links have been an important element of search engine optimization almost since websites began ranking web pages. Building strong links between reputable websites and your own has also long been a sure way to communicate credibility to search engines and, therefore, to earn better rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs). However, search engines have increasingly grown sophisticated in their ability to understand the content of a web page and the context surrounding words and phrases. As a result, a new search engine optimization trend is appearing: The value of linkless mentions. These mentions have long existed, but now they are beginning to contribute to the SEO success of the businesses that receive them.

What are linkless mentions?

Within the context of search engine optimization, linkless mentions are mentions of a brand that occur without an accompanying link to that brand’s website. For example, a news article might mention a company that is related to the topic of the article in some way, but not link to that company. Or, someone might give a company a five-star review on Yelp, but not link to the company’s website. Even social media mentions of a brand can count as linkless mentions.

SEE ALSO: 4 Search Engine Optimization Benefits of Featured Snippets

What value do linkless mentions add to search engine optimization?

In the past, it was thought that linkless mentions had no value for search engine optimization. Search engines mostly cared about links back to the business, because those links were easy to identify and because large numbers of them from reputable sources could indicate that a certain business was a leader in its field. As a result, SEO experts have often worked on turning linkless mentions into linked ones. For example, they might go to a news organization and ask them to add a link to a news article mentioning their business. Doing so allowed that mention to be “counted” in the search engine’s evaluation of the business’ links and, therefore, contribute to better rankings in the SERPs.

Nowadays, there are signs that search engines are capable of taking linkless mentions into account when evaluating the usefulness of a web page. For example, one Google webmaster trends analyst listed linkless mentions such as social media mentions as examples of the kinds of widespread discussion that Google looks for when determining a brand’s value to searchers. As a result, more and more SEO experts are coming to believe that linkless mentions hold as much value for search engine optimization as do actual links (and that, in fact, links might eventually give way entirely to linkless mentions). That is, even linkless mentions can serve as an organic and valuable indicator of a website’s success. And that means that even linkless mentions can contribute to better rankings in the SERPs.

How are search engines able to evaluate linkless mentions?

Since search engines have not always been able to understand¬† the value of linkless mentions, what has changed? The simple answer is that search engines, or, more specifically, the algorithms that govern them, have become more sophisticated. Rather than having to look for simple indicators, such as links, they are capable of evaluating the context within which content appears on a web page. For example, in the same way a search engine can pick out keyword stuffing from the natural use of keywords in relevant content by evaluating the material around the keyword, so it can identify linkless mentions and their reflection on a brand by evaluating the material within which the mention occurs. This makes search engines more than capable of finding and using linkless mentions to help it determine a website’s usefulness.

What does this mean for search engine optimization?

One of the most obvious impacts this has for search engine optimization is that it eliminates the need to chase down linkless mentions and turn them into actual links. However, the value of linkless mentions goes far beyond saving your SEO experts a little bit of footwork. Instead, understanding that linkless mentions are just as valuable as links can affect your search engine optimization efforts by directing them toward building conversations around your brand. No longer does it matter (as much) whether links accompany that conversation. Instead, the value lies in simply getting people to talk about your company. To that end, there are a few areas on which you should focus your search engine optimization efforts.

  • Social Media
  • Online Reviews
  • Blogging (Including Guest Blogging)

Each of these areas is particularly effective at encouraging conversations around a brand. For example, an active social media can spark discussions around your brand, give you the chance to engage directly with consumers, and encourage people to post about you on their own social media accounts. Online reviews give people the opportunity to discuss your business frankly with others, and also gives you the chance to respond to reviews (both positive and negative) in order to improve your reputation and the types of things people say about you. Guest blogging gets your name and expertise out to a broader audience, raising the chances that people will think about, talk about, and seek out your brand.

Links are still important in search engine optimization.

Links are far from being unimportant in search engine optimization. Linkless mentions do not replace these links (at least right now). Instead, taking linkless mentions into account can be an additional way to enhance your SEO efforts. To this end, tracking and pursuing linkless mentions can help you to improve your rankings in the SERPs. If you need help navigating linkless mentions, as well as links and other search engine optimization metrics, consider hiring SEO experts (like WEBii). We can help you set up and implement a comprehensive SEO campaign, including linkless mentions, so that you can enjoy broad and positive online visibility.

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Posted in: Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Social Networking

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