Building backlinks with Web 2.0 : Designing, implementing and evaluating a costless off-site SEO strategy with backlinks originating from Web 2.0 blogs.
Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this thesis is contributing to the research on the efficacy of backlinks originating from Web 2.0 blogs by designing a costless method for creating controllable backlinks to a website, solely with Web 2.0 blogs as a source of backlinks. The objective is to find out if such links can provide an effect on a website’s positions in the Google SERPs in 2020 and to hopefully contribute with a controllable link strategy that is available for any SEO practitioner regardless of their economic circumstances. The thesis provides answers to the two research questions: 1. What positions in the SERPs can an already existing website claim as a result of creating and implementing a link strategy that utilizes Web 2.0 blogs? 2. In context of implementing a link strategy, what practices must be considered for it to remain unpunished by Google in 2020? Method – The choice of research method, due to the nature of the project is Design Science Research (DSR), in which the designed artefact is observationally evaluated by conducting a field study. The artefact consists of four unique Web 2.0 blogs that each sent a backlink to the target website through qualitative blog posts following Google’s guidelines. Quantitative data was collected using SERPWatcher by Mangools, which tracked 29 keywords for 52 days, and was qualitatively analysed. Conclusions – There is a distinct relation between the improvement in keyword positions and the implementation of the artefact, leaving us with the conclusion that it is reasonable to believe that Web 2.0 blog backlinks can affect a website’s positions in the SERPs in the modern Google Search. More research experimenting with Web 2.0 blogs as the origin of backlinks must be conducted in order to truly affirm or deny this claim, as an evaluation on solely one website is insufficient. It can be concluded that the target website was not punished by Google after implementation. While their search algorithm may be complex and intelligent, it was not intelligent enough to punish our intentions of manipulating another website’s keyword positions via a link scheme. Passing through as legitimate may have been due to following E-A-T practices and acting natural, but this is mere speculation without comparisons with similar strategies that disregard these practices. Limitations – Rigorous testing and evaluation of the designed artefact and its components is very important when conducting research that employs DSR as a method. Due to time constraints, the lack of data points in form of websites the artefact has been tested on, as well as the absence of iterative design, partially denies the validity of the artefact since it does not meet the criteria of being rigorously tested. The data collected would be more impactful if keyword data were gathered many days before executing the artefact, as a pre-implementation period larger than 7 days would act as a reference point when evaluating the effect. It would also be ideal to track the effects post-implementation for a longer time period due to the slow nature of SEO. Keywords – SEO, search engine optimization, off-page optimization, Google Search, Web 2.0, backlinks.
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