Link building remains to be one of the most reliable search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to drive organic traffic to your website. However, link building trends have evolved over the years. For instance, the Penguin update took out unethical link building practices such as automated spam posts, spun content, and spam directories.
Thanks to Google, black hat practices are now subject to penalties such as lowering a site’s rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs) or even de-indexing them completely. Content standards for guest posting opportunities—one of the benchmarks of off-site link building—have also increased. Today, search engines are much more refined and sophisticated, optimizing for 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. Authoritative 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 now that search engines are smarter, the landscape has changed completely. As of today, practitioners have shifted their focus on getting 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 were forced to change the way they build links. They no longer take links from every source; they now try to build links with sites that boast higher levels of online authority, while avoiding “spammy” ones.
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 and other search engines.
The “Right” Approach to Building Links
There’s a right approach to link building, but it comes with its challenges. In fact, 65% of marketers state that link building is arguably the most difficult digital marketing tactic to perform. Even though white-hat SEO practices can be quite tedious, the returns are definitely worth the effort. There are no shortcuts to success but with the right amount of patience, you’ll acquire significant 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 are guaranteed to result in legitimate organic growth.
Creating Quality Content
Whether it’s in the form of a blog post, infographic, social engagement, or any other, these published posts work as website content. But this alone won’t get you any links. As it turns out, there are certain types of content that work best for link building.
Up to this day, creating infographics can still be extremely beneficial for your website. Visual content is very easy to link to since website owners are always craving for easy ways to condense large amounts of information. 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 them great for earning backlinks. Backlinko’s post, “21 Actionable SEO techniques for 2020” ranks in the top 3 for the keyword “SEO techniques”, has over 6000 social shares, and was able to acquire over 5000 links. Content paired with actionable tips and case studies are valuable and easy to digest so it’s no surprise why readers aren’t hesitant to share these blogs with their peers.
Call it old fashioned but email is still one of the most powerful marketing tools. 81% of small businesses make great use of email to boost their customer acquisition efforts. If you aim to build white hat links, diving into email outreach can do wonders for your business.
Email, as a channel, is formal, not too intrusive, and personalized. It plays a huge part in everyday communications and allows you to have genuine engagements with leads, webmasters, and important stakeholders in your industry. Take advantage of this by reaching out to relevant brands/influencers and writing them personalized 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 link back for every email you send out. To put things in perspective, only 8.5% of outreach emails are able to receive a response. if you can consistently convert 1 out of every 10 emails sent, you’re already doing better than most link building practitioners.
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. Take a look at this guide for more email outreach tips.
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 increase your chances of making a partnership work.
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. Replacing links can be a very tedious task for a web owner, so fixing their site by giving your own set of alternatives can give you a lot of opportunities to earn link placements that boost your online authority.
You can create similar content on your site or repurpose something that already exists. Luckily, there are many tools available that can help you identify a site’s broken links., Once you’ve found some broken links, you can send an outreach email to the webmaster to alert them about it. Most webmasters will be glad to accept your link alternative since you’re voluntarily adding value to their website.
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.
It’s a simple method since you only need to tell the webmaster to link back to the correct website or page. Since they’ve already shown an interest in your brand, chances are they’d be open to fixing or adding the link since they already mentioned you in the first place.
For obvious reasons, link reclamation works well for established brands that already get mentioned a lot. However, it’s still a quick way to source potential links for virtually all websites. Reclamation opportunities are served on a silver platter so make sure to monitor your social mentions with tools such as Google Alerts.
Just like a blog, guest posting has also gained traction as a popular link building tactic. To show you how much people have hopped on the guest posting bandwagon, statistics indicate that 60% of blog owners write around 1-5 guest posts per month.
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. Since it’s a transactional agreement, meaning there’s an exchange going on between both parties, your chances of success are a lot higher.
Pitching and getting your relevant content published on trusted sources is an effective way of establishing relationships, building brand awareness, and establishing website authority. 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.
Content syndication is a very underrated digital marketing tactic. Syndicating content 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 can be risky. Syndicated content may be flagged as “duplicate” so you’ll need to make use of the best content syndication practices available. Finding the right partners and coming up with the right strategies will allow you to get the most of this technique.
The first five results of the SERPs account for 67% of clicks made. As business owners, making use of different methods and practices to rank your page will ensure that your brand stays relevant and competitive in the years to come.
It’s expected that the brains behind search engines will continue to optimize their algorithms to provide the best possible results and experience. With this at the top of your mind, it’s important to always stay on the lookout for new developments in SEO. A change similar to the Penguin update may suddenly arrive and completely revolutionize the dynamics of the field.
Link building has stood the test of time and has proven itself as one of the most reliable SEO tactics. Remember that it’s an ongoing process so you should always search for new opportunities to build your page’s authority. Again, remember that with link building, quality always trumps quantity, so be sure to aim high!
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