What is link building?
Link building is one of the fundamental elements of online marketing and is especially important in the rankings of search engines. That’s because it’s a major factor in their algorithms’ determination of what constitutes a good site, so they’re more likely to return sites with quality links higher up in their results.
Essentially, link building is the practice of getting external web pages to link to your own website, and in recent years it has become something of an art form, requiring skill, creativity and determination. But if you manage to get a major site, such as that of a national newspaper, to link to some material on yours – it could be a blog or item of news – it can turn out to be online marketing gold.
If you are new to SEO, and want to find out more information, check out our blog post on what is SEO?
Link building fundamentals
In working out your link building strategy, there are a number of basic things you need to consider. First of all, there’s the choice of text you’re going to use with your links – called anchor text. If these match various keywords associated with your online marketing, there’s a good chance they’ll be picked up by the search engines, as anchor text is also used as a signal in rankings. Check out the Moz beginners guide to link building here https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-link-building.
Sites that are popular and have lots of traffic are trusted by the search engines as being of high quality – and that makes sense: people are not going to visit spammy, low-quality online properties. You’ll need to do some research at the outset to find out which are the best, and most popular, sites that are relevant to what you’re doing, and then try to get them to link to you.
How to get high quality links using content marketing
Content marketing is one of the best ways to generate high-quality inbound traffic. Ask yourself just what it is you want to link to, what page on your site and what it contains. Then put yourself in an ordinary person’s online shoes and see if you would be bothered following the link to your site? No? Then there’s little point in it and you’d be wasting your link building time.
The only way forward is to provide value for visitors, and other website owners. Have something dynamic or even controversial to say? Blog about it and send your link out across social media and let people pick it up and potentially place the link on their own blogs or sites. Got some really great industry news? Let’s hear about it, and then send a summary, and the link, to industry sites as well as online newspapers.
How to execute effective email outreach campaigns
In building links using email outreach, make sure you have something compelling to say before you do anything. Bland text in an email is just going to invite the delete button, so think about how best to capture people’s attention. Keep it short and simple and carefully consider the subject line, because that’s what will determine if your email gets opened or not.
Equally important is your target audience – choose wisely, and select those you think might well link back to you. A simple Google search using relevant keywords will give you a list of the sites you should be targeting, and then do some hunting around for the owners or webmasters of those sites so you can start emailing them and get your campaign underway.
Broken link building
Broken link building is a link building tactic where an online marketer or search engine optimisation expert contacts a webmaster who has a broken link on their site and recommends one or more alternatives that include his/her target website.
Broken Link Builder: brokenlinkbuilding.com: This tool is not free, but allows you to perform all of the actions above in an automated fashion. Just type in your keywords or key phrases and it performs all of the steps above, from finding opportunities to qualifying them based on links and relevance. This is by far the most robust broken link building tool currently available and is a huge time saver.
Build links and drive traffic with guest posting
Guest posts are another great way to build links to your site and drive your traffic level right up. But not just any old guest post will do. What you’re looking for is authority – expert analysis or opinion on a hot topic in your sector, or any other, that people will want to read and websites will want to link to.
You’ll already know who the experts in your field are, so make a list and go after them. Don’t be shy about approaching well-known or even famous people to write a piece of commentary for your site – and if you succeed in convincing them to do so, visitors will flood right in.
Grey and black hat techniques
Creating quality links takes time and if it’s done well, will pay off in the long term. Some people, however, are tempted to take shortcuts for instant results, and these so-called black or grey hat techniques can carry significant risks for sites.
Essentially, they’re about trying to get around the various conditions imposed by the search engines, who are always working to bring about even greater quality on the internet. Among the most commonly used techniques are using hidden links; cloaking – where the content you display to users and the search engines is different; and keyword-stuffed hidden text that’s only seen by the search engines.
With regards to your backlink profile, you do need to have your profile looking as natural as possible to the search engines, this includes not having all your backlinks with “keyword rich, money type” anchor text links and not always linking to your home page or inner pages.
How to avoid (and recover from) Google penguin updates
Google’s Penguin algorithm updates are designed to keep link building in check, so that it doesn’t run wild, the way keyword use once did. So to avoid any sudden drops in rankings, and to recover if that happens, make sure you take action now by contacting an agency that provides a Google penalty recovery service!
That involves never paying for links, and if you already have, get rid of them – remove them straight away. Equally, while it’s tempting to use them, avoid link farms like the plague, or Google will make you suffer. Also, pay attention to your anchor text and keyword density, and always keep an eye on what Google’s ranking signals actually are.
The best link building resources and strategies
The internet is packed with all kinds of useful resources to help you with your link building, from insightful blogs to tools that will help you create your strategy. Open Site Explorer is among the top tools used for link-creation campaigns and analysis, while Majestic SEO has a whole array of features that help with backlink data.
As for coming up with your link building strategy, it’s always advisable to go for quality over anything else. That means superior content that’s good for users, the search engines and, ultimately, you!
Incredible case studies
Brian Dean, who runs the site Backlinko, implemented a link building strategy called the Skyscraper Technique and saw his traffic increase by 110% in just two weeks. Plus, his organic traffic doubled in the same time. His technique is centred on three main points: finding content that’s worth linking to; improving something; and getting in touch with the people who count.
The swift evolution of the internet from a wild and rowdy place of few rules to a more orderly and improved space means more opportunities for everyone, from the user to the online marketer trying to drum up business and boost their brand’s image. Link building, done the smart way, remains a highly effective method of doing this.