Link building is the process of acquiring links (also called inbound links or backlinks) from other websites to your own. Links are a key factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to a website’s rank on search engine pages.
That’s because search engines treat links as votes for popularity. As a result, they tend to move sites with a greater number of links on a particular topic up in search rank. The number of links to a website demonstrates not only popularity but the site’s trust and authority.
Maybe that’s why links have also been one of the most manipulated areas of SEO. The pursuit by spammers of black hat tactics for link building over the years has resulted in search engines now discrediting sites that don’t achieve links authentically.
Link building isn’t a secret. It also doesn’t happen overnight. It requires planning, dedication and tracking.
How to do it right? Here are the 21 best and worst ways to do link building.
- BLOG: If link building is important, your website must have a blog. Without one, you’re pursuing links with one hand tied behind your back. Your blog should be focused on subjects you want to be a trusted authority.
- AUTHORATIVE LINKS: Blogposts contain links (outbound links) to other trusted authorities and influencers. They are likely over time to notice your content and reciprocate or comment on your blog (which counts as an inbound link). Every new blogpost is also a new web page and another opportunity to create more links and have pages indexed by search engines. All of which should be a motivation to regularly publish content your audience values and to build relationships with thought leaders in your field.
- SOCIAL SHARING: Social influence is huge. The more you share your material, the more likely you are to see that material (and your authorship) promoted in search results. Since social network pages are also web pages, that can also add up to multiple listing on a search page too.
- KEY INFLUENCERS: It’s beneficial to have your content shared by folks with large social followings. For Google searches, this is especially true of content shared on Google+.
- ANCHOR TEXT: The visible characters and words that hyperlinks display on a web page is anchor text. Search engines use this text to help determine the subject matter of the linked content. It not only creates a link but establishes link relevancy, a metric worth monitoring.
- TESTIMONIALS AND REVIEWS: Encourage customers to share their testimonials of working with you or review your product. It’s not only good PR, it creates valuable and relevant links.
- EXPERT INTERVIEWS: One of the easiest ways to build links is to interview experts. Most experts have a website. So, once you interview them, you can ask them to share the interview with their readers or even tweet and post it on Facebook.
- VIDEOS: YouTube (owned by Google) is the the #2 search engine and videos uploaded on YouTube have a higher chance of ranking in search results for longtail keywords. Videos can be an extremely powerful form of content and make a significant contribution to your overall SEO strategy.
- GUEST POSTS: If a website owner or editor trusts you to create high-quality content by a guest post on their blog, they are not giving you permission to start aiming backlinks at your website. They are instead trusting you to produce excellent content that their readers will love. If you have a byline or an occasion to mention some other articles you’ve written, then you’re entitled to a link.
- INFOGRAPHICS: This is one of the best ways to get popularity in a short time, and also one of the most effective ways to re-purpose content. Infographics are easy to distribute and naturally tend to get more shares. Some simple tools to create infographics are Piktochart, Infogr.am, Visual.ly and Easel.ly.
- SPONSOR OR SPEAK AT AN EVENT: Sponsoring an event creates a great opportunity for earning backlinks. Chances are you can get a considerable number of links from PR releases related to the event.
- SLIDE PRESENTATIONS: You can upload your slide deck on Slideshare (and include links on your slides). This approach is likely to drive more visitors to your website and a link from Slide Share is likely to elevate your site’s search rank.
- ONLINE TOOLS: Calculators, and interactive data earn links and citations. Sometimes, a single resource (think Statcounter’s Global Stats, Zillow’s price estimates, Walkscore’s Walkscore) can kickstart massive, on-going links.
- “BEST OF”: Best of blog posts are simply lists of the best blogs in a given niche. They are a good way to distribute quality content and built trust and authority in your niche using links to the best blogposts in your particular area.
- BROKEN LINKS: A link building tactic where you contact a webmaster who has a broken link on his/her site. You recommend one or more alternatives that include your site. Begin with your targeted keywords to find other sites you would like to have a relationship. Find a broken link in an article where your site would be a suitable alternative. Contact the webmaster and see if they would be willing to substitute. You’re helping each other out.
- ASKING: One of the most underutilized linking tactics, is just asking your biggest fans if they’ll link to you, mention you or tweet you. If you have their email address, you can figure out if they have a blog. It’s pretty straightforward and easy, but you do have to figure out who your biggest fans are first.
- WEB DIRECTORIES: Submitting your website to many web directories and getting a link in return. This was a technique that Google actually recommended at one point, but it became abused and overused, Google stopped passing as much value from those sort of links.
- LINK NETWORKS: Link building is important enough that some SEO experts have set up or will set up link networks; that is, a number of websites and/or blogs on a particular topic. Unfortunately, most of the content on these network is someone else’s or the site don’t exist for reputable purposes. Search engine discredit link networks and the site associated with them.
- FORUMS: Not all forums are regarded as trusted authorities. Contribute only to those where you trust the community, can contribute valuable content and provide a link with your name back to your website.
- COMMENT SPAM: Marketing your own site by making useless comments on blogs that add no value is not a good practice and rarely amounts to much.
- LINK EXCHANGES: If you are ever approached by someone who says they admire your site and content, never exchange links with someone that you don’t know, trust and want to build a relationship.
Below is an infographic that shows how best practices for link building have evolved over the year.
Does this give you a good idea how to go about link building? Which way do you practice? Is there any ways you would add? Does you company need help with link building?