Search engine optimisation (SEO) may have changed a great deal over the years, but you can’t underestimate the importance of backlinks.
Simply put, a link from another site to your own represents a vote of confidence, with the authority and relevance of the link impacting on its effectiveness.
In the best case scenario, your site will receive a number of industry relevant, high authority backlinks, which indicate to the search engines that your site is the most popular for any given search term.
Getting the most common backlinks, from social media, free blog sites, directories and press releases, is easy to achieve, but this just means your competitors will have an almost identical link profile.
It is the business owners willing to go the extra mile that will get the best results from SEO, making use of the backlink sources that require that extra step.
Engage with Industry Influencers
In most niches, there will be certain leaders or experts that have a reach within the industry.
If they have developed a public reputation, chances are high that they appreciate the power of self-promotion.
Firstly, get in touch and request a short interview or quote for your website – this kind of thing would work on your business’s blog.
If they are receptive to an interview, you can do this via print or audio, but a short quote could still achieve the aim.
Present your industry influencer with the finished article, politely requesting they let their followers know.
From this interaction it’s likely they will share your work on their social profiles, and possibly even link to it on their own site.
Don’t miss our guide to contacting and engaging industry influencers.
Respond to a Blog Post
You may already be aware of the best blogs in your niche, but you can also set up a Google Alert based on popular industry keywords.
Ideally, you want to look for active blogs with regularly updated content, and target a recent blog post.
Next, try writing a response piece, linking back to the original source article.
There are various ways to approach your article, including an alternative take on the issue, a contradictory opinion, or simply quoting the article explaining why you agree.
Contact the blog owner, through social media or their comment section, and you will often receive a link back, or possibly even a blog response.
Search for Broken Links
Most blog owners link to third-party sites within their posts, but linking to domains that have expired, or simply getting the link wrong provides a bad user experience.
Dead links are bad for the reader and frowned upon by Google, so there is an opportunity to provide a beneficial service.
There are plenty of tools available online to find broken links, but we’d recommend Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider. This amazing free tool can either scan a list of URLs you upload to it, or you can simply choose to ‘spider’ a whole site by adding the URL.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider will then scan both internal and external links. You’ll be looking for anything that flags up as “404” not found.
When using SEO Spider, switch to “spider” mode so you can enter a specific URL. The program will then sniff out any broken links – both internal and external
When you find an appropriate link, send an email to the blog owners with a link to the page, while also subtly suggesting your own content as an alternative.
This good deed could end up rewarding you with a backlink from a high authority page / site.
Social signals are a valuable part of a modern backlink profile. Without any social signals or evidence people are sharing your content, a website could look suspect in the eyes of the search engines, and also indicate that nobody is actively discussing your business.
Asking for a social share might get limited results, but offering a bonus can provide a steady stream of links.
There are various content locker tools available (especially for WordPress), both free and paid, and they allow you to lock an aspect of your site until an action is taken.
Social Locker is one of many “share to unlock” WordPress plugins available
Typically, you could write a content-rich article, but include some additional tips for those who share your content.
Create a testimonial for one of the services or tools you use, or even write an in-depth review on your blog
Look for the sites which link back to contributors, then craft a quality testimonial and send it to the site owner.
Free Agent does a great job of presenting testimonials, and they also provide links to the website of customers who took the time to write them
Many of these links feature on the site homepage, usually providing the most powerful link.
Surveying your audience should provide you with some interesting statistics about your niche / industry.
You can reach people through your social media and mailing list, or use a sponsored mailing if required.
Collate this surveyed data, then craft a press release you can send to relevant industry news sites to report on.
If the angle is of wider interest, you could find your information could spread to broader news sites, creating many strong backlinks.
It’s also worth doing an full backlink audit of your own site so you can see if you can spot any trends and opportunities to pursue.
As you can see, many of the most effective link building techniques require effort and networking skills.
For a number of years, SEO could be done effectively using an almost automated procedure. Links could be outsourced at low-cost, software could perform much of the work, and content could be written for the search engines instead of human readers.
Times have changed, and SEO requires a more deft touch. On the positive side, this change means many business owners left the SEO world behind, giving up or choosing paid traffic.
For the people willing to provide value, competition has decreased and opportunities have grown.
Have you had success with any of the above techniques? We’d love to hear your alternative ways to naturally build quality links for your site.