Look, link building is one of the many smart strategies used in search engine optimization (SEO). Let me make it very clear folks, link building is NOT easy – first of all, it’s time consuming (results don’t come fast). Furthermore links need to come from a high authority website. I’m sure you’re wondering what constitutes a high authority website? The short answer: sites that rank better than you do. Sounds easy enough but how can you get links from authority sites if you’re in the same niche?
What is Organic Link Building
Let’s start with the most basic understanding of what link building is. For the uniformed, one method of link building is a process of earning links from external pages (sites) to link to a page on your website naturally (organically). Nowadays, with Google’s Penguin updates and the disavow process, the formula is not as easy as it used to be. Google’s attempts to keep toxic links and horrible link wheels at bay has become a staple in Google’s algorithmic updates. It’s rare that I give Google any kudos but what they have accomplished in the last few years with Penguin, Panda, and the Hummingbird updates (to name a few) is nothing short of miraculous.
Let’s consider what’s happened in the last few years in regards to Google algorithmic updates and what the SEO and marketing industry has been all a buzz about.
- Content marketing and link building is a different beast than what it was just a few years ago.
- Creating content may be easy for some, sure, but creating great content that people want to link to isn’t.
Therefore, looking for an SEO company to do this for you is a shot in the dark. One has to understand the characteristics of a link, I can tell you without a doubt that a lot of SEO companies don’t add link building as part of their services because great content is not easy to master. Now that’s not to say ONLY great content will get you links, no you can still get links by other means but eventually those will die off since a lot of techniques still used today are on the brink of extinction… besides those links were crap to begin with.
Link Building- Important For SEO
So why is link building important for SEO… really? This is a two-fold answer. Number one and most important is the connection you make with outside articles (websites) that can reinforce and add value to your readers. The second reason is search engines. Yes, they do look at links and will continue to update their algorithms to combat the crappy links that are out there today. I have seen and read the arguments. “We have great content yet Google is still ranking company xyz better than ours.” I get it, really I do. But at the end of the day, you can’t let what Google dictates run your day-to-day operations. As much as we do this almost on a daily basis for clients, you cannot ALLOW rankings to be your Holy Grail. It may sound contradictory, but who is ultimately going to buy from you? Certainly not Google. So you may not see immediate results for your efforts, or a crappy competitor is still outranking you – don’t stop.
Getting Links From Authority Sites
Mentions & Citations – You have to work for this one. Start listening and watching what influential bloggers are doing on the blogosphere. Find someone that writes about your industry. Approach them; entice them to write about you. But give them a reason to, don’t expect them to do it because you asked.
Directories & Press releases – Directory submissions in your niche market is still one of the strongest signals you can send the search engines. Press releases are just as helpful as a directory submission. I don’t think they hold the same weight from Google’s viewpoint, but remember it’s not just one thing. That’s what kills me about trying to break this process down for people.
Promoting Great Content– Start by creating a roadmap of articles you are going to produce. Depending on where and how you are doing this, keep this promotion campaign going for a solid 3 months. Create shareable, compelling content that your readers will want to share. Note, compelling is really key here. For example articles, white papers, etc. that you generate will be used as a reference or to enhance an argument that they want to share with their clients/users. Content that will be bookmarked due to a list of cool widgets you shared. Personally, all I ever recommend is gaining natural and organic links.
Create Amazing infographics– One of my favorite examples of this is Truckpocalypse. This is not a cheap endeavor, but I can assure you whatever you may pay for a high quality infographic like that, you’ll have a ROI through the roof.
Examples of Building Great Inbound Links
The key is to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Think about the types of blogs they peruse or want to read in their spare time. Below are a few steps that anyone with a little bit of smarts and committeemen can take in order to set up a healthy organic link building strategy.
Use Your Blog
You have to be consistent. You have to make a commitment to this strategy since it’s time consuming and putting out one great blogpost a week rather than three mediocre posts per week can kill you, right out of the starting gate. Therefore, don’t get all crazy, start out small then build from there. If all you can come up with is one blog per week. STICK TO IT. At least those 4 blogs per month can be a strong stepping stone and set a paradigm as a great resource for your readers.
RSS feed is your friend
It’s easy to add and can be a great tool that will continue to grow if you’re promoting it correctly. Send out a weekly tweet about connecting to your RSS feed. Add it to your monthly newsletter, add it to you email signature. It’s a button, a small cute icon, make sure you place it where people can see it. But go the extra step and TELL people to add it to their daily news feeder, or they’ll overlook it. So what are you waiting for? Add us to your RSS feed.
Use your Blog as a Social tool
Start sharing links to other sites, which are relevant to your readers. For example, If you host a restaurant recipe blog, then you may want to link out to recipes that are available at no cost from renowned chefs seen on the Food Network. You may want to link out to an interesting research study on the health benefits of foods that are sold at your restaurant. You can include a “Resources” section on your website and include links to popular restaurant review websites, chef blogs, recipe websites or even health-oriented websites.
Local Review and Resource List
This is a great natural links builder. I can attest to this from personal experience, including client cases. It’s time consuming but when done properly, it’s ageless. Keep in mind there are millions of people online everyday, but if you want to capture your local business then think locally. Start a resource list for local playgrounds if you’re a mom blogger. Start a local review about the art shops in your city if you are an artist. Get creative, but make sure you do the research in order to produce an excellent piece.
Tools For Link Building, Tracking And Cleaning
Last, but not least, I want to share a few link building tools we’ve used or heard about that have been around for a while. Basically there are many tools out there to help you. What you have to figure out is how you’re going to build your links naturally.
- Link Prospector from Whitespark
- Raven Tools
- Moz Site Explorer
- Buzz Stream
- Majestic SEO
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Link Prospector From Citation Labs
- SEO Book Link suggestion tool
- Blog Roll Outreach
- Find Broken Links On Web Sites
- Anchor Text Over Optimization Report
- Link Prospector From Wordtracker
- Link Research Tools
Link building is a great way to create a captive community, a steady stream of traffic that will grow with years and yes, Google will reward you for all your efforts. Let me say this again – it is not easy. But with a smart roadmap of what you’re trying to accomplish, you can create a healthy link building campaign like an SEO pro. But at the end of the day, if you want to see immediate growth or links to your site then maybe you should consider advertising or running a PPC campaign.