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10 Ways Your Link Building Needs To Change

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10 Ways Your Link Building Needs To Change

  Sam Carr       Mar 13, 2017    

  Back to SEO
Link building is a fantastic way to expand the reach of your brand and your business online. Through link building, you can get your site connected from different parts of the web and feed from various audiences other than your own. This will inevitably lead to more interest, more enquiries, increased sales… and higher profits.

The invention by Google of PageRank (named after Larry Page, one of the founders, and not owing its name to its analysis of web pages) introduced the concept of assigning importance to websites, and pages, relative to the number of clickable links pointing to them (otherwise known as backlinks), and the quality of the sites involved. As a way of improving the quality of search engine results, and also circumventing the growing “spamming” of these results, this was a brilliant concept, and changed the way SEO works for ever. Even now, some years later, efforts are directed at improving the concept, not replacing it, so backlinks are, in practical terms, here to stay.

But along with SEO in general, the way to use backlinks is evolving. The most drastic change was the notorious Penguin update, first released in 2012/13 and updated at irregular intervals ever since. For the purposes of this article, suffice to say that it destroyed, at a stroke, networks of millions of websites that were set up to create links in order to distort search engine results – and earn fortunes from website owners in the process. So now we are on the agenda of creating quality backlinks, and some would say, that’s really how it has always been.

The plain fact, however, is that you are going to have to work harder than ever before to get links to your site, and avoid associations with low quality sites like the plague. This article is designed to help you, if your strategy isn’t working, to get things back on the right path.

Website optimisation

Build Backlinks From Quality Websites

If you only take one lesson away from this article, it should be that you need to focus on quality over quantity, in every area. With building your backlink profile, you need to set up your own set of quality checks, and when you locate a relevant website, assess it against that checklist. If it fails, don’t even consider it as a potential partner because obtaining a link from a low quality (we use the term “high risk”) website carries no benefit at all, and if you continue to do this, you will be building up a store of “ill-will” from Google that will degrade your rankings over time and may even lead to a penalty.

Indicators you can use include at least one measure of site quality (like DA from Moz), whether the site advertises that it sells links (bad), a directory-style design and structure (lots of links, very little content) and even the general appearance of the pages.

Build Backlinks From Relevant Websites and Articles

Links to your site are most valuable when the theme of the website is associated with that of your own. This doesn’t need to be a complete match: if you sell training services, a business news site or a self improvement blog would be good, but the relevance of a holidays website or a music download site is debatable at best.

Relevance of the article is also important. If the link to your site appears in an article that has no connection with you or your product, why should it be there?  And if you see multiple links in an article that go to wildly unrelated sites (yes, this does happen) then you know - and as will Google - that this site is almost certainly trying to manipulate search results for its own (financial) gain.

Avoid Directories

Since the industrialised manufacture of low quality directories lay at the root of the Penguin-related turmoil post-2013, always bear in mind that these places still exist, and taking up offers of a “one-time payment of $5” may actually help to destroy your SEO efforts. If you know of a highly relevant trade or local directory that will generate website traffic on their own, then go ahead, but keep the number low and don’t incorporate any of this in your SEO strategy.

Don’t Use Shortcuts

You’ll find plenty of shortcuts for SEO online if you’re searching for them and that includes link building. But stay away from them: things like search engine submissions or linking schemes where you’re guaranteed a large amount of links to your site. At best, these don’t provide anything; at worst, they do what they say, and provide large numbers of high-risk, damaging links from sites that have no legitimate reason to exist.

Work For Your Links

Although link building is hard work, if you’re willing to adopt an “ethical” link building strategy, your rankings will benefit. One of the ways you can do this is through guest blogging. With this activity, you engage with relevant (and quality) blogging sites, and ask to write an article for them.  Depending on the editorial policy of the website, the article could be an information or opinion piece about a subject (with a link to your website as an author or sponsor at the end), or a feature of a new product or service that you are introducing. If you choose wisely, this will help you to build your profile in a beneficial and sustainable way.

Many high quality blogs have a “work with us” or “write for us” page, so all you need to do is get in touch and ask them if they’d like some free content or a guest post.

And of course, take link building seriously enough to allocate adequate resources to it. Whether it’s the time you spend or the budget you set for an outside agency, you will inevitably find that paring things to the bone means that you never see the results you want.

Use Testimonials

Another tactic is to use testimonials on supplier websites. These allow you to post on a well-known website which ought to be happy to use client feedback to boost their own brand.  When you give the testimonial, make sure you let them know they can use it on their site as long as they include a link to your own website. This is a subtle and highly effective way of adding quality backlinks to your profile.

Customer testimonials

Find Missed Links

If your company is well known, you might find there are mentions of your business online already. Unfortunately, these mentions may not have all been linked back to you, which is a wasted opportunity and one that can be quickly resolved. Simply contact the site owner and ask them politely to link the reference to your site.

Remember Content Is Still King

Remember that getting good backlinks is largely dependent on your site being seen as a high-quality resource. If it isn’t, many of your requests will be ignored or even rejected because fewer people will want to link to you.

High quality content that attracts links is often called “link bait” or “linkable assets”. Be sure to cultivate this with great articles, useful tests, infographics, how-to guides and white papers that will be of interest, and provide a benefit to, your target audience. Always focus on keeping your content up to a high standard, and it will provide the platform you need for your link building activity.

Look At Your Competitors

Look at the sites that link to your competitors. Why did they do this, and would they do the same for you? Every good quality link to a competitor website is an advantage they have, and which you may be able to “even up”. There are tools like Moz, Majestic and Ahrefs which can give you the information you need, although the learning curve can be pretty steep for many people who aren’t SEO specialists.

Scale Your Campaign Naturally

Last but certainly not least, you need to think about scaling.  If you want to make the most of link building you need to build up your campaign gradually. If you try to scale up too quickly, you’ll lose your focus on quality, and also run the risk of being rejected. Furthermore, a sudden, “unnatural” surge in links to your website will be spotted by Google and likely flagged as “unnatural” – removing any benefit you may have expected.

The bottom line here is that link building is just as important as ever. But it is also more complicated with increased scrutinisation and the need to focus on quality. However as long as you continue with your focus on quality, you’ll have no problems with keeping your campaign healthy. And in addition to benefits with SEO, a well-executed link building campaign will provide you directly with new relationships and additional sales leads.

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