Link building remains to be one of the most reliable search engine optimization (SEO) strategies in driving traffic to your website organically. However, link building trends have evolved over the years. Before the Penguin update, for instance, unethical link building practices such as automated spam posts, spun content, and spam directories ran the track.
But thanks to Google, these black hat practices are now subjected to penalties, which reduce their rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Content standards for guest posting opportunities—one of the benchmarks of off-site link building—increased. Today, search engines are much more refined and sophisticated, optimizing the user experience and penalizing websites that try to “game” the system.
If you want to gain prospects or clients, you have to market and sell. In the same vein, if you want to rank high in search engines, you have to build links and create quality content for SEO. Valuable and quality backlinks provide credibility for your content and validity to your website, unlike questionable tactics that could potentially get your site penalized.
The Importance of Relevance and Link Quality
Is it better to have lots of links scattered on low authority websites or only a few links but from trusted and high authority ones? Should you choose quantity or quality?
Building as many links as you can was the primary strategy before (i.e., links through blog commenting, participating in link directories). But things have changed since then. Search engines are now smarter than ever. So, it’s absolutely best to focus on high-quality authoritative links. After all, search engines are now quality-driven.
Since search engines can now identify content relevance and linking patterns, SEO professionals are now transforming the way they set up links. They no longer take links from every source; they now try to obtain links from reputable sources that boast higher levels of online authority.
Acquiring a relevant link from a website seen as an authoritative resource will not only boost your content or website exposure but also increase the authority of the linked site. For instance, if a popular and trusted website cites you as a resource and links to one of your pages, that simply says “this website is trustworthy.” Readers or visitors will feel confident about following the link, and so will Google or other search engines.
The “Right” Approach to Building Links
White-hat SEO is quite tedious. There are no shortcuts. But it works amazingly well, and you will see the quality results over time.
Something as simple as leaving a relevant comment with your link attached on a high-authority website blog post can expose your link in different channels. It can set off a chain reaction like what happened to one of Ryan Stewart’s seemingly innocent comments.
From blog commenting to guest blogging, here are 7 ways to approach link building that’s guaranteed to result in SERP growth.
Creating Quality Content
Whether it’s in the form of a blog post, infographic, list posts, or any other, these published posts work as website content. But this alone won’t get you any links. As it turns out, certain types of content work best for link building.
Visual content is easy to link to. If you’ve published charts, infographics, or any other images on your site, you can land a link anytime someone shares that content on their website. Original research and data also draw in loads of backlinks, since first-hand statistics and data are exceptionally valuable.
Additionally, list posts are highly shareable, which makes it well-performing in giving backlinks. In fact, BuzzSumo found that list posts get shared and generate backlinks more than other content formats.
If you aim to build white hat links, one of the best ways to do so is to dive into email outreach. Email, as a channel, is formal, not too intrusive, and personalized, and it still plays a huge part in everyday communications. Take advantage of this by reaching out to relevant brands/influencers and writing them individualized messages asking to link to your content.
From the get-go, it may sound easy: send an email to a link prospect, get a link. But don’t expect to get a linkback for every email you send out. In fact, if you can consistently convert 1 out of every 10 emails sent, you’d be doing better than most.
Keep in mind that with email outreach, you’re asking someone for a favor (a link). And just like any other type of request, it’ll certainly help your chances if you can sweeten the deal by offering something in exchange.
Resource Page or Roundup Link Building
Resource pages contain a list of links pointing to highly useful content or reputable sources. Since these exist primarily to link out, they make excellent link building targets.
You can create your own resource page or find websites or blogs that have one relevant to your blog’s content. Then, choose the most relevant content that will fit in the list of your prospect’s resource page. Don’t forget to write a personalized email to land you the link.
Broken Link Building
Broken link building is great because it pays off as much as link building itself. As the internet ages, more and more websites and pages will vanish from the web. Perhaps these businesses closed down or their websites are no longer active. This results in a “dead” or “broken” link pointing to a missing page. What this presents is an opportunity to put your link forward to replace the broken link(s).
You can create similar content on your site or repurpose something that already exists. Find website pages with outbound links, determine which ones aren’t working using a tool like Check My Links, then send an email to the webmaster to alert them about the broken links you found. Finally, offer your link as an alternative. Most webmasters will be happy to fix errors with your new link because you’re helping them improve their website structure.
Some link building tactics aren’t about finding opportunities. Take link reclamation, for instance. It’s the process of identifying content you’re mentioned in that hasn’t appropriately linked back to you—these are opportunities waiting to be tapped.
It’s as simple as directly send them a message asking to link back to the correct website or page, using the keyword you’re trying to rank for. Chances are, they’d be open to fixing or adding the link since they already mentioned you in the first place (they’ve shown an interest in your brand).
For obvious reasons, link reclamation works really well for established brands that already get mentioned a lot. However, it’s still a quick way source potential links for virtually all websites.
Guest posting remains an effective link building tactic. Publishing content on other websites allows you to include a link back to your site, which has a positive effect on your search engine ranking. It’s one of the most popular link building techniques because it’s transactional (you provide valuable content in exchange for a link).
Pitching and getting your relevant content published on trusted sources is an effective way of establishing relationships, building brand awareness, and increasing website authority. The more blogs you contribute to, the higher authority and larger audience share you can gain. Just keep in mind that you’re up against the scrutiny of both the publishing website and Google’s quality regulation algorithms, so only the best content will succeed.
Syndicating content basically involves taking an existing piece of your content and re-publishing it on a third-party website. This means that your content gets put in front of a whole new audience that you probably wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
This should be done with caution since submitting existing content to curation sites such as Medium can be risky, as your syndicated content may be flagged as “duplicate content”. But, syndicating content to quality websites using SEO best practices can drive traffic and boost your page ranking.
Search engines continue to optimize their algorithms to provide the best possible results and user experience. This shows the searcher the results pages that the algorithm “thinks” is being asked for, offering a better user experience. In turn, this triggers return visits, content sharing, site bookmarking, and inbound links, which all contribute to high rankings.
Linkbuilding is an ongoing process that doesn’t have a specific end date, so you should always be on the lookout for potential linkbuilding opportunities that can boost your website authority. Again, remember that with linkbuilding, quality always trumps quantity, so be sure to aim high!