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In a panic about link building techniques and methods? Not sure what’s changed and how to get started? are you afraid your site will get penalized if you end up in the wrong hands?
Misconceptions have always surrounded search rankings. And search engine algorithms change all the time, so it’s no wonder people feel like they can’t keep up. Yet plenty of techniques for building links are as relevant as they’ve ever been.
Search engine algorithms are smarter than ever. If you want your links to elevate your site, they need to be quality links. You can expect links from spammy sites to have a zero or negative impact on your site’s rankings. Irrelevant links outside your niche will also be useless to you. You also need to make sure your anchor text is or at least looks natural.
Read on as I take a look at some link building techniques that can still be used in 2018, without necessarily having to go large investing in resource-intensive initiatives like ‘Content Marketing’.
1. Building ‘linkbait’ Quality Content
I don’t mean to suck beginning with the usual ‘Content is King’ drag, but nothing will save your link building campaign from weak content. Every link building expert knows that relevant, quality, audience-led content both generates links on its own and strengthens an existing link building initiative.
People want to link to sites that offer real value. They’ll share such content with their online social circle. And blogs will want to use and cite such content for their own articles too.
This type of quality content has to be or high quality and relevant to your niche, as well as fresh and useful to your readers. This mean you need to get to know your audience. Consider taking reader feedback first to inform the direction of your content strategy. That way, you’ll ensure you’re creating content that people want to consume.
The key is in finding the influencers for your target audience and find a way to showcase your content to them without pushing or projecting the idea of linking to you. If your content is good they will likely link to it.
Make it shareable too
Along with having real value, your content should be shareable and invite people to want to share it with their connections.
Sites might think twice about linking to a mountain of technical jargon. Rework your content so it’s accessible and easy to scan. This means other sites are more likely to link your content without risk of distracting from their own.
Keeping your content digestible also means it’s more likely to find readers in the first place. Attention spans are in short supply online, so your content is more likely to attract links if others have read and understood it.
2. Build User Resources
This one is closely tied to quality content, but it’s, in my opinion, one of the best long-term strategies for acquiring quality backlinks
If you can provide content that other sites in your niche will find useful, then you have an inbuilt tool to generate links. This could mean providing statistics, or how-to guides, checklists, or perhaps it means creating an index of useful information for your audience. Or, if budget permits, consider providing tools unique to your industry that aren’t widely available.
Aggregator sites that allow users to compare prices are a great example of this strategy. Commercial sites that offer highly detailed online user guides and videos on how to use their products creatively is another example. To get a better idea I’d like to cite the fantastic Techsmith Camtasia video editing product and their information user training guides and videos. This is not the first time I link to them.
Before you jump into creating resources for your niche, make sure you run adequate keyword research in order set you in the right direction with content creation.
3. Build authority through publicity and public presence
Authors continue to do book tours in the modern day because they still work.
Old-school publicity like interviews makes your brand more visible. You can act as an ambassador for your content by appearing in YouTube videos, on podcasts, industry events, or on the radio. Creating a personality for your brand makes it memorable. It’s also a great way to build credibility.
When you aim to build this Publicity in a broader perspective, you get not just the linking signals you were looking for but also the very thing that those signals are trying to measure, namely Authority. Remember, the link is a signal that Google interprets to understand something deeper.
There are many personalities in the Search Marketing industry who do this very effectively: sharing knowledge as speakers, writing in-depth blog posts, participation in expert panel discussions or moderating events sessions or small groups.Anders Hjorth from Innovell does this very effectively. When he is not speaking, he is moderating on SMX in London or SMX Paris or joining the judge’s panel for key events like European Search Awards.
In return, he gets his brand exposed to highly targeted audiences who may at some point contact him for client work. It’s the power of authority-building.
4. Digital PR
You could take your brand authority-building efforts further by doing this in the framework of a coordinated Digital PR campaign. I see a lot of success with brands or agencies using data-driven content to seed out stories to the top-tier press.
If you think you are able to bring an element of public value or interest to your ideas and campaigns. For example: your brand may be offering value to emerging start-ups in the digital space, promote multiculturalism and/or multilingualism through your company culture, brand new innovative solutions to global issues, or even at a local level there is value in Digital PR, eg: you could be organising local and social events in your community, contributing to green initiatives…
Think about those targeted online publications in your niche that outstand and reach out to the journalists that lead the news in your favourite columns with a highly personalized message to tell them about what you do. Or better still, offer the journalist a free lunch to hear your story. You may not succeed in this first attempt but you will have begun connecting and establishing relations.
5. Chase up your Brand Mentions
A link building expert understands that effective marketing is about making sure no one forgets who you are, and to make yourself heard.
Good and whitehat link building is also about keeping a lookout for people talking or mentioning your brand. Has a site mentioned your content in a positive light but forgotten to link to your site? That could be an opportunity for a link. Reach out to then with a gratitude and kindly ask if they could also link to your site. If they’re talking favorably about you, they should be happy to oblige.
Your content could also appear on social media without attribution. When this happens, nudge users to check out the source and ask for the original poster to mention you. You may need to push to get credit, but you’ll thank yourself when it helps to build your links.
This link building technique works better when the brand is kind of already established for at least a year or two. If you are new in your space there may not be many instances of your brand being mentioned, so you first need to make sure you get some publicity.
6. Guest Blogging
Guest posting gives you a platform much like traditional publicity. You can prove your credibility and wow new audiences with your content. The best results you will get off guest blogging will come when you forget about the link and really focus on targetting influential bloggers with audiences relevant to yours or your client’s site.
As part of a guest post, typically you’ll be able to get a link back to your site. But you can also include content that you can back up with data from your site, too. This increases the link building potential of your guest post.
Once you’ve made a guest post, staying active in the comments can build your visibility and the authority of your brand. It also shows the host site that you aren’t in it just for the links.
To make this strategy truly successful you should mainly approach websites or blogs that truly appeal to your desired audience.
There is plenty of information out there on guest blogging etiquette, conducting effective outreach and the like, so I won’t be covering that, but if you don’t know how to get started with prospecting tools like Buzzstream Discovery, Pitchbox or NinjaOutreach are a good start.
7. Industry Directories
Certain directories remain relevant depending on your niche, despite what you hear about directories being dead. Directory submissions as a form of link building was spam and it is dead indeed. However, being present at key industry directories can be beneficial both for your local SEO efforts and your link building.
The key is to ensure your site is included in relevant directories only. Doing otherwise can negatively impact your search rankings or take you nowhere other than wasting a lot of time. Try and look for niche directories related to your keywords that may have been overlooked by competitors. Try to think of all the permutations in your niche that could have a directory.
Directories can be not just a free source of backlinks but also help you discover potential prospects for collaboration within your niche.
8. Competition-analysis link building
The point with this link building technique is not to copy what the competition is doing, but try to establish the level-playing field in SEO for your brand. You want to be able to have at least the same links you competitors have plus unique ones impossible for them to emulate. So chasing the links they have is always a good start.
The process is usually to analyze two or more of your competitors to find common sources of links on their backlink profiles. Consider approaching these sources to see if they’ll do the same for you.
Are you doing enough in your SEO to attract the sites who are linking your competition? Take a look at the content being linked to on your competitors’ websites. If you can provide the same information in a better format, you’re more likely to attract these links in the future.
9. Leveraging Social Media
Social media is still an amazing tool for a link building expert.
Users of social media have grown more used to seeing advertising. But native advertising and astroturfing techniques can get through to even the most jaded users.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated social media marketing plan or strategy, you should try to be active on social media to promote your brand. This allows you to engage actively with potential readers, who are likely to share and promote your content. These shares can form links themselves, or they help bring your content to new audiences.
Taking part in social media also brings credibility to your brand. It shows you’re an active presence in your niche, not just a faceless blog. That boosts the likelihood that others will share your content or link to you.
10. Broken Link Building
You can build links using the shifting nature of the internet. It is one of the oldest forms of link building and it does still work pretty well.
For instance, you can use specialized SEO tools to help you find broken links on other sites. If these links were pointing to other sites in your niche that are no longer there, it’s an opportunity for you to plug the gap.
The way to go is to approach the webmaster and offer to help fix these links. You can then use your own content as a suitable alternative. If you’re already a resource site like we mentioned earlier in point two, then this becomes even easier.
Webmasters you help out like this are likely to remember you when it comes to linking new content. By helping fix their broken links, you’ve improved the SEO of their site. You can establish relationships this way that can help with future, mutually-beneficial collaboration.
11. Host and Sponsor Events
It may sound bizarre, but link building doesn’t have to happen online. This a great way to bring sites in your niche together. It’s even better for businesses with a local focus.
Let’s take a look at these two options separately.
Hosting an event puts you at the center of link building. A link building expert will host events to increase their brand awareness and gain coverage for their content.
You’ll want to promote an event you’re hosting, so your site will appear on all advertising. If your event gains traction, then other sites will start to report on it, giving you even more links. Social media will bolster your link building even more.
Any businesses involved in the event will also be promoting you by default. By acting as the host, you’re putting your site at the head of the pack in your niche.
Event hosting can be costly and could even backfire if it goes wrong. If you don’t want to commit to an event, you could try offering sponsorship.
Sponsorship has a similar effect on the visibility of your brand. And like event hosting, coverage of your sponsored party will also link back to you. If you’re a site with a local focus, this gives you a positive image along with plenty of organic coverage.
In the context of SEO, it is important to acknowledge that not all links are equal. There are many different ways that a link builder can leverage in order to build/gain links for clients, whether it is through working with the client to build amazing content, through Digital PR or through creative community initiatives such competitions, or through a combination of them.
Whatever it is the link building technique is used, it is key to cultivate strong, quality links within the same industry, or with logical ties to it. These will give your site greater authority and credibility. It is equally important to demand transparency onto whatever the process or method for link building may be.
If you’re trying to build effective links, then following the above ideas like a checklist can help keep you on course. Building links will become easier over time as you gain more exposure and create relationships with other sites.
Another point to take into account is that link building can only get better as you go through and start improving your overall SEO. Only by ranking high enough, you will find yourself garnering links naturally. In other words, by bringing up other aspects of your SEO strategy, you can improve the chance of links coming to you.
And if you’re stuck, you can get in touch for link building consultation!