Link building has always been an integral part of any SEO strategy, but as Google’s algorithms change in order to deliver more relevant and higher quality results, so does the need to adapt your link-building strategy.
Building links in the correct way means sticking rigidly to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and understanding the fact that what’s good for your human visitors is also good for the search engines and vice versa.
Approaching your link-building strategy should be done with care, lest you end up damaging your website’s ranking in the search engines rather than giving it the boost that you’re hoping for. In this article, we’ll take a look at six useful tips for building links to your website in a safe, responsible and effective way.
1 – Keep the Emphasis on Quality
There was a time, before the search engines were as smart as they are today, that the sheer number of backlinks was the most important factor when it came to getting increased exposure in the SERPs.
It didn’t much matter where your links appeared, even if they were on fairly irrelevant and/or low quality websites. However, everything has changed now, and the emphasis should be far more on the quality and relevancy of a link.
The main quality factors of a link include…
The anchor text link is the text on page used to link to a website. For example, a relevant anchor text link to the LCN.com blog may look like this: LCN Blog.
In the past, in order to help identify the topic of a page, Google relied on descriptive anchor links a lot more than they do today. As such, anchor links were abused.
To illustrate, let’s say your company is called “Awesome Marketing”. A natural anchor link to your web page would be the branded term “Awesome marketing“. However, Google found people were abusing anchor text links with highly targeted and descriptive keywords, such as “cheap marketing services“.
If “cheap marketing services” makes up 90% of all your anchor link profile, it’s pretty obvious to Google you are trying to unfairly influence the search results page.
Domain and Page Authority
Domain authority is the authority of the domain name that is linking back to your website. Domain authority is defined by factors such as number of backlinks the site has, age of domain, and the overall content on the domain.
Page Authority is similar, but instead represents the authority of a single web page, as opposed to entire website under one domain name.
Moz Open Site Explorer
A fairly obvious one this, but the relevance of the page linking to your website is all important.
It would make logical sense that a website such as (the made up) “www.amazingseotips.co.uk” might link to Moz.com, because they are within the same industry, and share similar information with their readers.
However, a website such as “www.simplerecipes.com” linking to en masse to “www.amazingseotips.co.uk” might grab Google’s attention for the wrong reasons, as it’s likely those links may be part of a black hat link building campaign.
Today, backlinks need to be earned, while links which require very little effort to obtain, such as those on low-quality article directories and content mills, do little or nothing to benefit your link-building campaign. In fact, such links can even harm your website’s reputation.
On a final note, never buy links, lest you risk having your website being de-indexed altogether.
Related: What makes a great backlink?
2 – Forge Connections
As we’ve already mentioned, quality links are not all that easy to obtain, and instead they need to be earned by forging connections with others in your niche.
Your goal should be to have links to your website appear on relevant, high quality and original pages such as those on blogs or other websites which also publish content on your niche.
Building up long-lasting relationships with owners of other successful websites in your industry will provide you with some invaluable resources for your link-building campaign, and if you have been involved in SEO for some time already, then you probably already have a list of people who you can contact.
Twitter is a great way to find and engage with people in your industry
Don’t be afraid to approach other webmasters and online marketers either, for you may well be able to forge a mutually beneficial agreement.
3 – Write Guest Blog Posts
Perhaps a contentious tip in 2014, but one of the best ways to forge lasting connections with other webmasters is to offer to write guest blog posts.
As Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) states, guest blogging as a means to link to your own website with the sole intention of gaming the searching engine results page is wrong! Not to mention that it could seriously damage your website by incurring a Google penalty.
However, if you are an expert in your industry and can offer the readers of a blog some genuinely interesting and helpful content, containing helpful and relevant links, guest blogging can still be a useful tactic. Just don’t overdo it, and like we always say; don’t spam!
There might be a fair bit of work involved in creating a guest post, but your efforts can pay off enormously if you choose the right blogs to write guest posts for.
Depending on the arrangement you have with the blog owner, the guest post will typically be accompanied by a link to your own blog, and in most cases, a few words about yourself and your business in a summary at the end of the article.
Guest posting on high quality relevant blogs is not only a useful way of getting one or two quality links, but a great way to boost your profile.
4 – Use Variety
Although creating a successful link-building campaign is significantly more difficult and time-consuming than it used to be, you’ll find that there are still just as many opportunities at your disposal as there ever have been.
Instead of concentrating solely on one or two link-building methods, don’t be afraid to branch out to take advantage of the full range of mediums which are available to you.
In order to build a diverse and valuable link profile, consider making use of things like forum posts, blogs, local citations (for local businesses) and social media.
Just make sure that your link offers value to the reader and is relevant within the context of the web page or group you’re posting it on – be engaging, else your content may end up being passed off as spam.
5 – Engage Your Audience
We’ve already talked about the importance of forging connections, but that is something which you can only hope to achieve if you engage your target audience.
Online marketing is very much a collaborative effort involving two-way conversation, quite unlike traditional advertising which basically revolves around giving a sales pitch in the hope of motivating your target audience.
As a webmaster, you’ll find that there are many ways to engage your audience, but most of it will happen over social networks or conversations started in blog comments or forums.
Paying attention to your target audience and getting yourself involved in their conversations will earn their trust and respect, and more often than not, they’ll pay you back in kind by sharing links to your content on their own websites or social media profiles, effectively doing a portion of your link building for you!
6 – Add Value
You don’t have to look very far to find low-quality content on the Internet, and even in spite of Google’s recent changes, there are still countless articles and web pages published every day which offer little to no value to their reader.
Such content is usually designed for the search engines only, and is often stuffed with keywords and unoriginal, spun content.
Publishing content that is original and high in quality will attract links all by itself. If your content offers value to the reader, it will end up being shared on social networks and bookmarking sites, and webmasters may voluntarily link to it on their own websites.
Remember, that ultimately, a link should be useful to the people who are likely to click on it and not a tool to manipulate the search engines. Make amazing, shareable content, and the links will come.
Taking the above tips to heart when conducting your link-building campaign will deliver positive results, but it is also important to be realistic.
Link building is more about creating content that attracts links of its own accord rather than actively seeking them out, and after some time, links to your website will start to form organically, and organic links show the kind of trust and authority Google look for when indexing and ranking your website.
Have you considered a link building campaign? What tips do you have when reaching out to blogs and individuals? Let us know in the comments below.