Think back to your days in school – remember the ‘cool’ kids? How they were the most popular? Got the most attention? How everyone wanted to run with them? How your social ranking was based on who you knew and in what context?

Well, search engine optimisation is exactly the same. If your site is in the same circle as the top-ranking sites in your industry it will benefit from the association and rank well too; but if your site is not associated in any meaningful way with the industry leaders you will continue to struggle to get a better rank on the search engine results pages.

This is especially true after the now infamous ‘Panda’ update Google made to its algorithm in April 2011. This update reduced the clout of ‘content farm’ sites, sites that aggregate and list other sites based on industry or subject e.g. directory sites.

Such sites used to rank well (they were ‘cool’) and every website they listed or mentioned benefited from the high ranking as their link back counted as a quality inbound link for the destination site. But the moment Google downgraded the status of such sites, many sites listed that had no other ‘cool kid’ associations felt the pain of also falling in ranking.

So, in order to rank well in the search engine results pages, one of the most important items on your search engine optimisation checklist, now more than ever, must be to cultivate inbound links from high ranking sites in your industry.

If you’re not cool, you may not get noticed.

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