Since the dawn of the search engine, links have been the main currency of the Web. The earliest Google technology defined links as an “editorial vote” that could be used to decide on the authority, prestige, and overall value of a website.
For all the changes that search engine optimization has undergone in the years since, links have remained one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – factor in overall search visibility.
There’s no sign that links are going away … but they may finally have some company.
Linkless Backlinks Now an SEO Reality
Linkless mentions – also called brand mentions – are emerging as a complement to standard backlinks. Top authorities at Google have mentioned them and they even feature prominently in recent Google patents, which refer to implied links on social media and elsewhere.
Social Savvy Brands Already Have an Advantage in Linkless Mentions
If you’ve been tracking brand mentions on Twitter and Facebook and occasionally using branded hashtags for your campaigns, you’re already on the right track when it comes to linkless SEO.
In fact, the first step forward into the linkless future is to monitor brand mentions.
Various tools, such as Awario and Talkwalker, already scrape brand mentions from throughout the Web using their own crawling tools. As Google continues to weigh linkless mentions, it’s reasonable to assume that it will also introduce robust mention tracking in Google Analytics.
But major GA updates take a long time. B2B brands in particular should get started now.
Mentions, being more versatile than links, can come from a wide range of sources:
- Web Forums
- Social Media
How to Get Started on Linkless Mentions
Linkless mentions underscore the importance of getting content out onto other Web venues not under your direct control. It’s no longer strictly necessary to ensure that guest posts have links with optimized anchor text, so a mention won’t lose value in the future if a link is removed.
Social influencers develop their following by curating valuable content. Linkless mentions give you even more reason to share your content with them. You can get immediate value from a positive brand mention on social media – all the better if you earn them regularly.
Reviews and Customer Service
Responding directly to reviews and complaints online can bolster your linkless mentions. This is especially valuable when you address dissatisfied customers on review aggregators like Yelp. If the customer later revises the post to be more positive, it may affect your brand.
Although linkless mentions are an interesting development, they aren’t world-shaking for brands already following social media best practices. Reaching out to allies and customers and building an active dialogue will help you cultivate beneficial mentions.