Link Building Strategies In Seo: A Complete Guide To Link Building
Link Building Strategies In Seo - A Complete Guide To Link Building
The rules of the game are constantly evolving. Those in the SEO industry for years, would swear by the fact that it has always been a roller-coaster ride for them. Well, it’s true as SEO is a fast paced sector and favors only those who are flexible and agile. With Google’s revolver doing constant rounds of shoot-out with it’s algorithm updates, the rate of change in the SEO industry has only escalated. As a matter of fact, many businesses that were totally dependent on the traffic generated by Google have gone into exile.
Everyone presumably know that SEO has changed, and it is still changing! At last, there are not many details to answer your questions, like “How could I protect my site and keep it ready to face the next update?” This section will provide an in-depth look into the world of SEO and some actionable tactics to abide by Google’s guidelines and make it spider-friendly. But, before that let’s take the time-machine and travel a bit into the past.
A Visual Timeline Of Link building
The history of link building is quite complex, as we all from the SEO industry are aware of. However, to know the actual history of link-building, one doesn’t have to travel long back into the time. It was Google that gave birth to the concept of link-building, as they considered links as the votes of confidence and based the roots of their search around links. Thus, one of the vital search engine ranking factors became a website’s backlink profile, i.e. who is linking to your site.
Although, the time span is relatively short, the history of link building is filled till the brim with some interesting stories. There is nothing as exciting as SEO owing to it’s rapid action. But, it also means that online marketers have to be aware of anything that comes their way. One always needs to be ahead, as an online marketer, and anticipate whatever lies ahead. This is only possible if one has a proper understanding of the history of link-building as this could guide them towards a great future for their online marketing goals.
Are Link Building Strategies complicated?
How many link building strategies have been executed by you that have failed miserably. To the surprise and dismay of webmasters and SEO’s around the globe after Penguin 2.0 went live, a number of websites were struck with the new algorithm update. Early in May, it was assumed that the new update was scheduled to arrive in a few weeks as one could perceive from what Matt Cutts had to say in one of his videos. However, it was live within just days of the announcement and it certainly stunned the whole SEO fraternity.
Back to the question, whether link building is still complicated – it still is! How you build links and the practices implemented by you were the major targets of Penguin 2.0. Google has always hated poor and irrelevant link building practices, whether it consisted of purchased links, posting links to dead pages and all that is considered spammy by the search engine major.
All these fraudulent link building practices were punished severely, with the launch of the Penguin 2.0. Even though a website was clean and had great content in it, it had to suffer if it resorted to poor practices of link building. The most common problem faced by a number of sites was links from those sites that were active no longer.
So, what link building practices to follow?
In the current scenario where every dollar invested in marketing matters, the clients tend to ask questions about link building ROI. For any amount invested, it is vital to lay down the practices and make them clear for your client’s understanding to avoid any blunders in the later stage.
It is very important to know what the right kind of mix is, in order to define the best link building practices. Many major SEO’s would agree to the fact that link-building is the single most important objective for attaining higher rankings. Link building is one of the hardest metrics to play with, and thus it is required to have a proper planned out strategy in order to achieve the maximum success. Here are the steps that could be implemented for the best link building practices.
Identify the objectives: If your answer to this is “more links”, it is not a good sign. It is required to think beyond just links, because only links will not get revenue or leads: your prospects will. Your online marketing efforts should lead you towards your goals, as there is no need to bother at all if there are no goals.
There are some ways to tie up the link building campaign with genuine goals out of which some are mentioned here:
- Get links from websites where your prospects hang out the most, as this results into more CTR from potential customers who could later be converted.
- Building external links to particular pages on a website, which if ranked good for the targeted keywords will fetch more traffic.
- Building external links with a small amount of the targeted anchor text, that helps in ranking better for targeted keywords, which in turn gets more intent traffic
These are only a few instances, but it could be observed that how these seem to be more effective than those “more links” goals. These kinds of goals give a definition to your link building campaign and make it more targeted. It is quite easy to get more links with a long list of directories on which the links could be posted, press releases and spinning the same terrible article throughout the web. None of these goals are going to hit the bull’s eye for your business.
Finding the right prospects: You may come across many online marketers who still believe that link building is only meant to achieve rankings on search engines. Is that the end of the battle? Where does the audience go? Admitted, that you are able to get the desired traffic on the website. However, if the audience doesn’t get something worth staying on the site, it will still be the same story. The link that you have built anywhere on the web, should in fact inspire people.
It’s only about link building, and only link building isn’t going to work anymore. It is not online marketing. We should be focusing on putting our brands, our company and our products or services in front of the target audience. Achieving links is a secondary objective in itself. So, it is required to start becoming an expert at finding the right opportunities for our brands to appear in front of the right audience.
Prospecting also applies to all those places where you are posting the links. An online marketer needs to ensure that they are utilizing the right kind of channels as their link building prospects. The content that you create in various forms for link-building, viz. Infographics, videos, guest blogs to name a few, should be relevant to your industry niche and informative for all those who would access it.
Take a deep breath before starting outreach: The outreach for link building or prospecting is being damaged by many black-hats with their spammy and thin attempts of reaching out the webmasters. It’s a good practice to offer something valuable to a webmaster and it could even be scalable among many sites if you are lucky enough.
The outreach communication could often be personal, where one needs to win the webmasters trust. Do not act like a salesman trying to sell business supplies. Rather to win trust, the link builder needs to build a rapport with those managing the website. Human to human talk works big time if done efficiently. The following points will help in a successful outreach.
- Don’t be forceful: It is good to be prepared, but be gentle. Don’t go ahead with all the energy at once. Spend some time in researching on the person with whom you are going to speak, through blogs or tweets and use that information in your outreach.
- Find something in common: Choose the link partners wisely. Are there any common strings between your business and the client’s business. If so, there could be some problems in the initial stages to come to a mutual agreement. This is where a marketer’s creativity comes in.
- Have something valuable: Do you really have something that the site needs? Does it add value to the site? They definitely don’t want something that is absurd or something repetitive on which there are a number of posts throughout the web. You probably won’t go very far if you really don’t have much to offer to the site.
Link performance measurement: An effective measurement will not only allow knowing how the efforts have fared, but it also enables to plan for future investment. It is better to build a future campaign based on previous success or failure rather than simply relying and boasting of great links.
In addition to that, it is difficult to form an improvement plan without measurement. Let us, for now, assume that the links built by you were not only able to rank you high on Google, but also you managed to get a lot of direct traffic through the links.
The following points play a major role while determining the link’s success (The Outcome):
- List your top performing search terms based on their rankings and store them in an excel sheet. This could be done with the help of the ranking data on Google Webmasters Tools.
- Measure your ranking based on a particular link after 3 months. Dive into Google Analytics and see how much revenue has been generated by the keyword that you are optimizing.
- Based on this tracking, make out the best phrases and places where the links seem to work and invest your hours, money and other resources to sustain profitability.
Types of link building
Now, you know all the steps involved in the best link building practices that are sure to go down well. However, even a seasoned link builder need to understand the different types of link building in order to execute a well-rounded link building strategy. Considering all the link building techniques, we could bucket them into 3 categories: link creation, link requesting and link attraction. Each has its own importance in various strategies and could be executed based on the campaign’s needs.
Link Creation: This has been covered first because it is the easiest of all the link building techniques. However, if not done in the right manner it could prove to be the most dangerous as well.
The concept is quite simple. There is one human going out throughout the web and creating links just for the sake of link building. These kind of links certainly provide value to the link strategy, however if that is only what one is doing, chances are that they will find themselves ranked poorly with no one else to blame. Below are the various link creation techniques that should be executed in a link campaign.
- Social Blogging (HubPages, Squidoo…)
- Content Distribution (Buzzle, Paper.li, Scoop…)
- Social Network Profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Google+…)
- Online Discussion Boards (LinkedIn Answers, Quora, YahooAnswers…)
- Online PR (PRWeb.com, Etc)
This kind of link building should be used very cautiously and only when needed in a link strategy.
Link Requests: This is the toughest type of link building ever. Having said that, it is also extremely valuable because it takes a lot of effort from the link builder, more often than not more than your competitors are willing to put, providing the extra edge over your competitors. These links usually yield great results with lots of link juice and help in building the credibility and authority of a website very quickly as compared to the link creation techniques. The most popular link request tactics are given here.
- Broken Link Building: Broken link building is a tactic where an online marketer gets in touch with the webmaster whose website has a broken link, and recommends an alternative that would include his/her target site.Russ Jones & David McSweeney had explained here and here.
- Link Reclamation: Link reclamation is a process that involves locating, contacting and fixing broken links on your company website and external websites.
Ross Hudgens Explain Link Reclamation in a better way here at Whiteboard Friday and David McSweeney - The Guru Guide To Link Reclamation
- Competitive Link Building: It is the process of identifying your competitor’s backlinks and acquiring them.
Link Attraction: This is the most fun-to-build link tactic. This is undoubtedly the most natural and safe link building tactic that could be executed as a part of the link building strategy. It is the practice of developing simply awesome digital content in various avatars, namely blog posts, videos and infographics. An attractive and informative content manages to naturally gain links with the help of the audience who simply couldn’t resist not sharing them with their network. The following are the most popular link attraction techniques.
- Blog Posts on Authority Sites
- How To Guides
Although a lot of time could go into the creation of the content mentioned above, if done properly, the content could prove to be a linkable asset, which would continue to attract links for many more years.
Well, as you have seen these are the three kinds of link building that if put together, depending on the needs of the campaign, could prove to be an effective link building strategy.
How the links are considered by search engines?
Search engines have now become more dependent on the metrics of an entire domain, rather than that of an individual page. That’s the reason why we see new pages or those pages with very few links ranking high, simply because the links are on authoritative, trusted domains. In search engine ranking factors, this is called domain authority and it has the largest share in determining the rank of a domain.
- While internal links throughout your own website is given weightage, what matters more is the links from external sites.
- Anchor text is considered one of the biggest players in the rankings overall equation.
- A diversity in the sources linking to your site has a positive effect on the rankings
The list given here is certainly not the most comprehensive. There is more to it and one could see all the search engine ranking factors to see what the online marketers around the globe have to say.
Define a centralized plan that works for the particular website
It is vital to define a link building strategy keeping in mind the kind of website that one is looking to promote. All the websites and the businesses carried out through them should have a centralized plan as far as link building for a particular niche is concerned. Let’s take a look at two instances:
- Ecommerce: To get inbound links to a particular product page, one needs to develop a link building strategy to target all those sites pertaining to that particular product. Also, the content that would be distributed around various sites should be related to that particular product on the e-commerce website.
- Local Service Provider: There are two branches of optimizing for local services. Build great local links using anchor text that is specific to the anchor text, and build local links from local authorities. While doing local link building, the main thing to be considered is who has the authority within the community. Also Google+ and business listings play a major role in any local link building campaign
Understanding the kind of links
There have been a lot of confusion with regards to backlinks and how is it performed after the Google’s penguin updates. The questions that arise are always the same: What ratio of optimized, semi-optimized, and natural links should I be using? Let’s have a quick definition of the 5 most popular ones:
- Brand Name Links: The anchor text here is simply the name of the brand or business. They are the most natural forms and the most recommended.
- Naked Links: This is also a natural type of link. They are basically the URL without any anchor text. Although, naked URL’s are natural, they don’t provide much value to the SEO efforts.
- Targeted Keyword Links: These are also known as optimized links. The links will show the exact phrase match of the keyword for which you have optimized a page.
- Hybrid Links: These kind of links are semi-optimized and should be used 15% of the time. They are the variant version of targeted keyword links for long-tail search phrases.
- Generic Links: The most popular forms of generic links are “click here” or “learn more”. In addition to these, there are countless forms of generic links.
Execution of the links
High quality back links are still unavoidable to achieve SEO success. However against a background of the ever-changing search engine algorithms strategies, it proves to be a challenging task to manage a successful link building campaign.
- Choose the right place to put your links. I mean, you can’t place your link for baby products on a website which is meant to sell sex toys.
- Trial and error is a part of every success. Initially you may face troubles with outreach, or deciding the kind of links to be built, or the places they should be placed. Even though they don’t work on the first time, you will know what the changes that are required to be made are.
- Before deciding on a particular link or the site, measure all the possibilities of the results that the link is going to yield. Thereafter, if found suitable you could go ahead with the plans.
The aim of SEO used to be targeting a single keyword till it’s death. You had hit gold once you were on the front page of search engines. Not anymore, as the vital element in today’s SEO is to work towards minimizing the risk penalties and Google updates. Links should be the focus if one doesn’t want to get hit by Google’s next update. So what is your link building strategies, share with us.
Digital Marketing Strategist in IBOXSEO. Who have worked with firms in the UK, Ireland, and HK on growing their online presence via lean strategy. Hugely passionate about the evolving nature of SEO, He is always interested in the latest shifts and patterns, particularly related to content marketing.