Link Building 101: Crawl before you Run
Don’t let the “Content-is-king” crowd distract you: Link Building is a vital component of SEO. While many blogs and conferences will euphemistically use terms like ‘Outreach’ and ‘relationship building’, a lot of link building techniques can take you away from Google’s “best practice” definitions. But before you start flirting with PBN’s and tiered links, here are some of the basic tools you need to get your site on the path to inbound Link Building success.
Link Smarter, not Harder.
So, you have an impressive website, a killer product and an amazing SEO plan but somehow your ranking’s stalled below your competitors? If you’re being out-SERP-ed, you might need to take a long hard look at your links. Inbound links are some of the most important factors to consider in a holistic SEO strategy. The logic is sound: if the content is good, people will share and refer to it, therefore it’s worthy of getting a higher ranking. One of the first question you should be asking is: how do you get sites to link to your good content over another guy’s good content?
Have ‘great’ content
Firstly, we’re going to get this ‘content is king’ cliche out of the way. Yes the quality of your content is important. If you’re looking to create return customers or regular readership, you need them coming back for more. Develop a voice, develop your brand, but most importantly, create content that is worthy of sharing or referencing. You can link build with poor/recycled content as well (we’ll get into the art of PBNs later) but if you’re looking for some earnest google-friendly engagement, it has to look legit.
Guest Blog Posts
Ah, Guest posting. It’s like a caffeine pill for your blog. Traditionally, partnering with a reliable and reputable site for a few inbound links was a lovely way to dance around Google’s ‘don’t do anything that might mess with our SERP’ policy. Today, Guest Blogging comes with all sorts of warnings but it’s generally approved under the guise of ‘educating’ or ‘adding value’. The rule of thumb is, if you’re Guest Blogging for links, just don’t make it look like you are. There are a ton of how-to guides out there that cover basic Guest Blogging tactics, reverse-engineering your competitors backlinks, and prospecting for similar sites with good link authority – these are a great place to start.
Use Social Media to Gain Inbound Links
Social media is a link sharing engine. And since many people spend more time on social media than anywhere else on the internet, it’s worth throwing a bit of time and money on securing some engagement – especially if it means more eyeballs on your web page. Sure, a link from a social site isn’t giving you direct SEO value in the strictest terms, but it still creates the opportunity for users to discover your site and share it on their channels. If your audience is active on social media, this is the cyclical strategy you have to master: post good content on your blog, share it on social media, encourage people to engage, then rinse and repeat. Don’t let the notion of closed eco-systems scare you: putting your quality content in front of the right people at the right time will create traffic and the links will follow. Tried and true tools like HootSuite, IFTTT, and Buffer can help plan and schedule posts for maximum reach.
Conduct and Post Original Research
Thought of a study no one else conducted before? Have proof that SEO is, in fact, dead? A great way of courting notoriety is to conduct research and post the results on your blog. Crunch some numbers, test some outcomes and, congratulations! You’re now a resource for other bloggers looking to cite your data. You can also create easily digestible (and shareable) answers to common (and uncommonly long tail) questions in your vertical. If you’re looking to write an article on Link Building, you’ll want to look at a few authoritative sites to back your words, for instance, according to HubSpot, 53% of marketers admit that blogging is the top inbound marketing priority. There you have it.
Encourage Customers to Post Reviews
88% of people trust online reviews as much as they would a friend’s recommendation. This means if someone sees a positive review with a link to your product or blog post, there’s a high probability of that person clicking on it to learn more. Self explanatory: Get more reviews! By any means- er. No. Your big meta search engines won’t let you buy reviews, bribe for reviews, aggressively incentivise reviews, or write them yourself. You’ll find a lot of alternative methods out there though, like contests where they have to rate, comment, use specific hashtags, and share your content to qualify and win a potential prize. But that comes with a lot of maintenance. A good place to start is by making sure visitors can easily leave reviews on your site . Ask at the right time, with the right language, and make it easy!
Make Infographics that turn heads
Are we still calling these infographics? It feels passé. When you’re faced with presenting a long block of data, there’s a higher chance more people will stop, look, and share if it’s presented in an easily digestible visual bite. Not only are these images easy to propagate, they help provide credibility and authority. Much like posting your original research, this is good material for influencers to cite and link to.
Reach Out to Influencers
This is a backlinking strategy you won’t find in a lot of best practice guides; it’s only picked up steam in the past few years with the rise of the million dollar social media celebrity. What’s an influencer exactly? If you have to ask, then you haven’t seen Joe Sinkwitz blow minds at UnGagged recently. An influencer is an online authority in a niche topic, generally with an impressive fan-base or reach. Offer an influencer a free product sample or sponsor their next video or meetup. In return, they’ll advertise your company or product and (this is why we do what we do) include a backlink to your page on their post or social media page. There are a growing number of Influencer brokers out there, these services can pair your brand with online personalities in your price range.
With the above tips and strategies, you can start laying the groundwork to gain more inbound links in a natural (and Google-approved) way. But why stop there?
If you’re looking to put some serious muscle behind your link building campaigns, there are plenty of opportunities that you won’t find on top-10 best practice blog posts like this one, and there’s a reason for it. If it’s been posted about, then it’ll be used and abused before the pixels dry. I’ll go into some of those grey areas next time, but for now I’ll plug the one conference that’s tough enough to go there. UnGagged Las Vegas 2018 will offer plenty of link building sessions, only these will cover material your competitors don’t want you to know.