Links are one of the criteria used by search engines to rank your website’s authority. Essentially, the more pages that are linking to your page, the more valuable it is to the search engines. What counts, though, is the quality of the sites that share your content or cite you. The more popular and relevant they are, the bigger impact they make on your traffic and search position.
In the past, link building was based on quantity more than quality. However, because of ongoing changes in Google’s search algorithm, it is now, more than ever, crucial to focus on the value of the links.
There are three types of links, depending on the method of their acquisition. Firstly, there are the links coming from pages that spontaneously link to your website. Those can be bloggers, forums users or even journalists. If you put emphasis on the high quality of the content you provide, your chances for these natural links increase. They don’t require any efforts from your side.
Secondly, there are links acquired through outreach. This is the proactive, manual work you do, in order to gain backlinks to your website. This involves signing up to various directories, lists and profiles, as well as asking other page owners to link to your site. The methods and tactics applied for outreach will be discussed in detail in the following part of the article.
Finally, there are self-created, non-editorial links that are posted on forums or in comment sections. They tend to add the least value and, if over-exploited, may be considered spamming. Let’s take a look at the ways for efficient link building.
Link building tactics
According to Moz.com’s “Link Building Survey“, conducted among link builders, team managers as well as agency executives and owners, the most common forms of link building include:
- guest blogging
- content marketing initiatives
- resource page link building
- digital PR
Let’s take a closer look at some of the tactics.
1. Link building with Guest blogging
Guest blogging refers to offering other blogs in your niche a place to post your content. Ideally, it’s a win-win situation that brings advantages to everyone. The blog owner receives good quality, original and relevant material that increases his blog’s attractiveness. The guest blogger gets exposure, backlinks to his website and the opportunity for building relationships in the blogosphere. Finally, the audience receives diverse and interesting content.
However, the explosion in guest posting has caused an outbreak of multiple blogs made solely for guest posts. As a result of this lots and lots of low quality or even nonsense articles, loaded with targeted keywords were published. Nowadays, search engines have become more cunning and perceive these actions as “abuse”, making them decrease the authority and rank of a website.
2. Link building with Internal Linking
Interlinking means making the most of your own websites. You can direct a user from one sub-page to another, and from blog to landing page, etc. The condition here is that you have to make sure the content you are interlinking to is connected and relevant to the reader.
3. Link building with Profile Links
If you sign up to a portal or website you get a profile, which can contain a link to your website. It’s worth mentioning that you can improve your ranks also by increasing your Google Authorship when posting valuable content on the website and assigning it to yourself. Anyone with a Google Plus profile can attribute content to their name from their blog or any other website.
4. Link building with Submission Websites
There is a wide range of link building tactics that are based on a submission of your content, whether it’s your website, your blog or a single article. As described by Point Blank SEO those are, among others:
- Article directories – where you can upload your articles for more exposure and traffic (e.g., www.ezinearticles.com)
- Web 2.0. websites – where you can submit various kinds of content such as pictures or videos (e.g., Squidoo.com)
- Press release submitting (e.g., PRWeb.com)
- Company directories – these online yellow pages are a valuable source of external linking (e.g., Manta)
- User Rating Review Sites – they allow submitting user opinions on your product and gaining backlinks at the same time (e.g., http://www.rateitall.com/)
- Infographic submission sites – if you have put a lot of work into creating an informative and interesting infographic, it is smart to submit it to one of these websites (e.g., http://www.best-infographics.com/)
- RSS directories – provided that you created an RSS feed, you can link to it (e.g., BlogRollCenter)
When applying any of the link building techniques, bear in mind that links have a tendency to decay over time. This is why link building has to be an ongoing activity.
5. Use Social Media as a link building tool
There are many ways to get links but social media provides a good opportunity to earn links naturally. As search algorithms get more sophisticated, aggressive self-promotion and anything that even approaches the idea of link farming is becoming less effective and can even be harmful to your rankings. If you create content that people find valuable, they are more likely to want to share it.
What people find valuable can vary but good quality infographics and posts that provide statistics, well-researched information, and new angles on a subject are all good starting points. A good video that captures viewers’ attention is eminently shareable, which is one reason nearly 87% of brand and agency marketers now create video for content marketing.
Original, entertaining posts stand a chance of going viral. But don’t just concentrate on entertainment value – a solid, useful post is likely to provide a long-term return, as people could use it as a reference for their own content. Experienced bloggers and content writers will often link back to your content rather than quote or steal it, especially if it appears authoritative.
The main benefit, as mentioned earlier, comes from the visibility that social promotion gives your brand. Social signals are a factor in Google’s algorithm and can cause your results to appear higher in searches at times.
Popular social networks also give you a good link to your main site from your profile, which carries the very real benefit of any great link. If it’s a followed link, it will help you rank higher, which is a good direct SEO value.
6. Reproduce content
Pillar contents are one of my best bets for earning links to a site that I’m really serious and passionate about. I’ve tried this strategy with TechTage, my internet marketing blog, and came up with a very extensive guide (over 11,000 words) focusing on increasing domain authority. With a bit of outreach, the post went on to become the most successful post of the site in terms of links acquired.
It doesn’t have to be textual content all the time. The basic idea here is to provide more value than all the other current resources about the topic. The form isn’t the most important thing as long as that holds the value. Gareth Bull leverages this strategy mainly by producing super-detailed infographics, and he is successful too.
7. Give Out Testimonials in Exchange for Links
Another way to use your existing popularity or authority in your own field is by giving out testimonials in exchange for links to your site. Patrick Coombe from Elite Strategies is seen on the front-page or the “what our customers say about us” pages of a lot of reputable services and companies in the SEO field like Ahrefs and Advanced Web Rankings.
8. Broken Link Building
AHREFS suggests: Broken link building may perhaps be the most effective, white-hat link building strategy in years. In particular, broken link building is appealing because the success of the campaign is directly proportional to how much good you do for the web. You profit only if you create good content to replace lost or abandoned content that webmasters still want to link to. This is the type of strategy that marries so many of the competing interests our industry: content vs. links, link earning vs link building, inbound vs. outbound, etc. The goldmine is to land on Wikipedia.
9. Find top influencers in your niche and quote them
As Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin and many others say one of the almost-obvious thing is to target influencers with the most social following in your niche. A better way is to manually look up the search volumes of the names of those influencers in Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. People with the most search volumes for their names surely have more interest about them and thus have a better chance of attracting links if their quotes are featured.
Pitfalls and challenges in effective link building
According to this research the biggest obstacles to overcome when using link building tactics are as follows:
- Finding link prospects
- Creating effective and efficient processes for link building
- Getting a response from link prospects
- Distinguishing between high quality and low quality links
It’s worth taking those into careful consideration. Basically, implementing link building tactics start with link prospecting, which means searching for link opportunities and evaluating their efficacy. In order to search for link prospects you can employ several techniques. Some of them are:
- Google search. You can use advanced search queries to receive the most relevant pages possible or employ local searches through Google Maps as well.
- Monitor competitor’s backlinks sources. This way you can identify the sources with high potential for your business.
- Social media search. This is literally a gold mine of link opportunities. For instance, browsing through Google Plus Communities or LinkedIn Groups will help identify bloggers and/or publishers with high potential. The same goes for Twitter. Any influential author will have a Twitter account nowadays. Twitter statistics can be an indicator of how much exposure he is receiving.
- Find influencers. One of the easiest way is to use Google Keyword Planner to check out a search volume of someone’s name.
After having detected the potential link opportunities, it’s important to verify whether they are are valuable, useful and worth going for. In order to achieve that, you can ask yourself a few basic questions:
- Is the website relevant to my topic/industry/target?
- Is the website current and frequently updated?
- What’s the domain’s age?
- Are there any inbound links already on the website? How many are there?
Does link building still make sense in 2015?
There has been a dispute over the Internet on the utility and effectiveness of link building, especially in the light of changes that have been made in search engine algorithms. Many e-commerce and SaaS owners and SEO professionals have been wondering whether it is still useful to acquire backlinks. No doubt, the Google “spiders“ get more and more crafty and precise. Therefore, generating multiple low quality links not only doesn’t necessarily improve your SEO, but may even be perceived as spamming and lower your SERP rank. Nevertheless, there are certain industries where link building still remains one of the most important SEO tactics.
We’ve already established that high quality content is the key. Creating it is incredibly time consuming and requires a certain level of knowledge and expertise. The truth is, preparing it is only the first step; the true work starts after that. Unless you are the New York Times, even the greatest, most entertaining, richest or most in-depth content of yours can get lost in the depths of the Internet. There is no guarantee that a great content will promote itself. It needs to be done and link building is one of the ways to do it.
Link building based on example of HigherClick.com
Let’s look at an example of an effective link building in order to grow your statistics and, ultimately, your business. Higher Click is an inbound marketing consultancy business, which started in 2010 and is based in Budapest while operating in UK and US. The company’s link building strategy is worth looking at. Their back linking strategy translates into actual traffic and is focused around high quality content, great backlinks and last but not least conversions and ROI. They not only provide their customers with the truly informative and readable content, but also this content is optimized for search phrases that clients of their clients search most.
Are there any tools that can help me out?
In order to manage your inbound links, you need to monitor them constantly, measure their impact on your traffic and, more importantly, on the conversions that drive your business. There are tools that measure and rate quality of backlinks to your website, moreover, sends out e-mail notifications of all new referrals, so you can keep up. They also let you identify keyword phrases that drive new prospects that can truly grow your business. Some of the tools not only deliver above information but include SERP (search engine ranking position) tracking, competitor monitoring and even more enriching insights on how to make your online business efforts more effective.
The future of link building in 2015
Having proved that link building is still a valid SEO method, it’s time to ask the question – what about the future? The Link Building Survey showed a tendency for the outreach-dependent forms of link building to be taking priority for the upcoming future. This involves investing in tactics such as guest blogging, digital PR, infographics and building long-term relationships with bloggers. This implies a constantly growing importance of the content quality and relationship building.