4 Part Article Series:
- SEO Link Building Basics: What is link building? What strategies worked in the past do they still work?
- What is an Ideal Link: What is considered an ideal link and what are the factors that determine back link value?
- Quality Link Building Strategies: Everyone wants to know the best backlinking strategies. We'll go into what it takes to create backlinks in the new post-Penguin era.
- Link Building Techniques To Avoid: We'll discuss each popular link building strategy that you should stay away from and many others that are borderline and could cause you issues later.
High Quality Link Building Strategies
How do you create quality links?
It is probably no surprise that the best link building strategies that can generate lasting value for your site involves creating great content. However, just creating great content isn't enough. Furthermore, just using link attraction through Content Marketing ignores the fact that you can still increase your brand identity and reach through other link methods as well. As we have just outlined "Ideal Backlinks" in the previous article, you should know that having nothing but those kinds of link can actually look unnatural. This is NOT to say that you need to mix in spammy links but clearly not every link you receive is going to be from a super authority site and it could throw a red flag if that was the case. So we'll go through a few link building strategies to increase and diversify your link profile and site visibility over time. As always this is based on consistent long-term marketing with the primary objective of delivering value to the user and not just trying to beef up your link totals.
- Link Outreach:For those that aren't fully aware, Link Outreach is the method of contacting the owner / webmaster / editors / decision maker of another site to solicit a possible link to your site. But this isn't just an automated reciprocal link request or a "hey can you add a link to my site please?". Instead the best Link Outreach methods are personalized to the contact, the site, and the content while also delivering value in return. An example might be telling the contact that you really enjoyed their post on "Post Topic Here" especially the part about "... something insightful about their post ...". You have written a related article with a unique perspective and would like to find out if they would be willing to add it to their content schedule as a high-quality guest post or link to your post if you placed it on your blog. Of course you should be referencing and linking to their post as well. As long as your content is also of high quality and isn't full of promotional text or links many site owners will be receptive. In this case Link Outreach becomes more Content Outreach where the link is just an added bonus. There are many other types of Outreach strategies. Point Blank SEO covered a few creative strategies that may give you some inspiration.
- Claim Listings:While claiming business listings is usually a go-to tactic for local search marketing, it can also be effective for national brands as well. There are several companies that can help with this including UBL, Yext, Localeeze, and Acxiom. In fact almost ALL local marketing companies outsource to these providers anyway. Increasing your internet citations and making sure there is consistency across the Internet can generate links and brand awareness.
- Niche Business Directories (not link directories):There are niche business directories that typically use a "pay-to-join" model that could provide some link value. Similar to the Business Groups below, these directories should be highly relevant to your business and industry and be reputable. If the directory itself is nothing more than a list of businesses and provides no further value you may want to think twice. You should also look at the type of businesses that are listed. If they take virtually any domain including many spammy sites you should stay away. Finally, look to see if it is updated. Are there broken links or sites that no longer exist? If so then the quality of the site comes into question.
- Collaboration:If you have connections with others in your industry sometimes the sum is greater than the parts. There are many cases where content creation is devloped through a collaboration between several business owners or experts in a field. Not only can you offer a more comprehensive point of view but fact-checking and content can also be more polished before it goes live. Depending on where the content is actually published you'll often get links from sites that the other experts are associated with and the reach of the content is also often greater due to the expanded network of friends, associates, and contacts.
- Social Network:Reaching out to your social network is one easy way to get links to your site. If you already have relationships with family, friends, colleagues, or others that might be interested in your content, products, or services then this could be a great way to gain some quick link love. However, you do not want to spam your friends. If you are going to ask for your close relationships to check out your content or service make sure they would appreciate the request and that your site is presentable and ready to be viewed by the world. This is especially important when you are contacting people you know and respect. If it comes across as too promotional or spammy you may burn that relationship and any hope of future outreach.
- Quality > Quantity:When looking at competitor analysis within many of the link analysis tools out there it is easy to be blinded by the sheer volume of links that your competitor may possess. Do NOT be fooled. You have no idea how many of those links might actually be HURTING their site or may be low quality. It is better to have a handful of high-quality, relevant links from legitimate sources than hundreds or even thousands of low-quality links. In the next article we'll get into various types of links to avoid.
- Guest Posting (legit sites):Guest posting can conjure up a lot of different emotions for someone in the Digital Marketing field. Some people think it is nothing more than a crappy article placed on a crappy site, and unfortunately it often is. But there are legitimate guest posting opportunities that are not just about stuffing links into a bland and useless article. I can easily write a page about this topic alone and there are some other good articles out there. Check out this Forbes article by Jayson DeMers.
- Reviews & Giveaways:Everyone loves to get something for free so Giveaways can be very powerful. Likewise, product or service reviews if done right can help open the door for link building opportunities. Rather than getting into this in great detail you should check out this post by James Daugherty at Distilled.
- Curiosity:Extreme Link Building involves creating something outlandish that sparks curiosity and disbelief. Peter van der Graaf wrote an article on this type of link building (see the resources below) and included examples such as a gold plated cell phone worth $100k if you sell cell phones. Or if you sell airline tickets you can put together an around-the-world package for a 48 hour trip where your only visit to certain countries is their airport for the layover. Do you sell flowers? Promote a bouquet for some astronomical price consisting of some of the rarest flowers in the world. Do you build pools? How about offering a special package where upon a completion you fill the pool with champagne. Do you own a car wash? Partner with some mechanic and create some crazy deluxe package where for $20,000 you'll do a 3-day ultimate detailing where you take the seats out, the doors off, the engine out, each wheel off and individually clean everything by hand including brake pads, electrical wiring, the inside of the headlights, everything. The idea isn't that anyone would actually purchase these things. When you spark the imagination and curiosity in people they may end up sharing it with friends and linking to it just because they can't believe it actually exists.
- Link Worthiness:If you want people to link to you then be link worthy. Don't ask for links if your content isn't unique or insightful or useful. Take the time to write or produce something great and you'll likely generate many more links than newsjacking 10 articles per day based on the same topics that everyone has read before. You can even aggregate information but try to provide something new so you aren't just presenting information but delivering a unique voice and perspective.
- Automatic Attribution:Automatic attribution can be generated through services like TYNT which adds in a link to any copied and pasted content. So when people paste it in an email or a post or share it in facebook often times they leave the link from the TYNT script. They claim that it can generate up to 40% more traffic to a page.
- 404s & 301s:One quick way to get links is to fix links that are already there. If you look at your analytics or webmaster tools accounts and see that there are 404 pages specifically coming via a malformed link from a quality link source you can set up a 301 redirect on that page to point it to the correct page on your site. You can also gain additional links by fixing internally broken links.
- Charities & Non-Profits:There are many charities and non-profits that will allow you to post information about yourself as a donator. While this can generate a link from a reputable source this can in some cases be looked at as a "purchased" link which would be against Google's guidelines. There is a fine line here because it typically comes down to intent. Would you have made the donation if the link didn't exist? Was the link an incentive to donate? These are the grey areas that Google will have to wrestle with. As with everything else it typically comes down to moderation. If you submit donations to 200 charities and Google detects that it is a significant portion of your overall link profile then it could be a signal for potential abuse. Do not for a moment believe that they can't algorithmically determine intent with a high degree of accuracy based on normal link growth and distribution models.
- Business Groups:Better Business Bureau (BBB), chamber of commerce, the library are all good possibilities to add diversity to your link profile. There are thousands of low-quality link directories and business listings out there. Many are not worth your time. However, if there are reputable business groups within your industry then you may want to consider joining. Your local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, a local library, any organizations or associations in your industry that you may be a member of are all examples of quality links from reputable sources. Remember, this is not just about getting links but also expanding your brand reach and credibility as well.