New to link building? Don’t know where to start? Maybe you’re already experienced or class yourself as an expert in this industry. Either way, this article will either teach you something new or refresh your mind when it comes to building links on the web.
1. Define Your Link Building Strategy
The first thing we do when we’re pitching to a client or working on our own internal sites on link development is to define the link building strategy. For each client this varies a little, but the main structure remains. We plan where we’re going to get links from and how we’re going to get them. Below are the methods we use to get them.
2. Linkable Assets
I stole this one from Garrett French in his Link Building Book, but knowing what your linkable assets are and using them to attract links is a great way to go. Whether you have a great product, fantastic content or whatever it is that makes you stand out, use this/these to bring in the juice.
3. Anchor Text
Doing keyword research is important before you start your link building campaign. Finding out the terms to target is vital at the start of the campaign. And common sense. These anchor text links are usually worth pointing to different pages within your site, and varying the anchor text too.
4. Brand Name Links
Don’t be scared to build links to your brand name. You’re not going to get the keyword rich anchor text for every link you build. More importantly, this helps to make your link building look natural, as well as building up your own authority. And as Patrick Atloft found out, building links to your brand is very important in the highly competitive industries, such as mobile phones.
5. Know Dofollow/Nofollow
Although some people are trying to prove that Nofollow links pass text, and some people may even want to believe that Google will one day ignore the Nofollow rule, I prefer to be safe and build dofollow links from the start. Nofollow comment and forum links are fine, but building nofollow links within blogs and on websites doesn’t go down well with me. Do your best to acquire dofollow links in these areas.
Content on your own website is important. The King by many’s interpretations. It’s best to try and make it as unique, and well, qualitative as possible. Make it attract links on its own. Then once you have the best content in your industry, you can start requesting links to these pages and your websites too.
7. Content Relevancy
Content plays an important role in a successful link building campaign. When building links from other websites within other people’s content, keep it relevant. If you’re in the holiday industry, there’s no benefit in building links on sex websites. Well, unless you’re promoting sex holidays, but that’s a different story. Keep your links within your industry.
When deciding what content and websites to build your links on, the placement of your links is another important factor. Links within the content is currently the in-thing, while footer and sidebar links are believed to be passing less value now.
9. Link Building Tools
My favourite link building tools are as follows:
- Majestic SEO – Free to find out incoming links from your own site, otherwise there are monthly subscriptions from £9.99 to find out your competitors links and their anchor text.
- Open Site Explorer – Similar to Majestic, Open Site Explorer (OSE) gives you powerful competitor data also. From the total links, the anchor text and OSE’s own page and domain authority scores. A free account will get you limited data, otherwise a pro account is $99 a month.
- SEOMoz Tools – From $99 per month you get access to a variety of tools. Although my favourite, the Backlink Analysis tool has become part of the Open Site Explorer, SEOMoz still provides a number of handy tools, including a Link Research Tool, a Juicy Link Finder and Linkscape, amongst many others.
- Yahoo Site Explorer – Although they’re shutting this down, Yahoo’s Site Explorer has been most people’s favourite free link building tool for years. It’s quick and simple; providing you with links from any domain you input. Why are Yahoo getting rid of their best asset?
- Ontolo Link Building Tools – From $497 a month, Ontolo’s tool helps you build links at a faster rate. The tool allows you to view various types of links (.edu, dofollow comments, guest post blogs etc.) as well as a function to hunt down good topics for viral link baiting.
10. Search Operators
Two years ago, James Harrison put together a huge list of search operators you should use when finding potential link targets. These search operators will give you a spread of the types of links you are building; from forums, directories, .edu links and generally a variety of results that will give you lots of places to target for links.
11. Directory Submissions
I consider these the start of a link building campaign. The easy ones to get, and ones to help you with your brand link building. Submit to the right ones and you’ll build up your authority.
12. Link Exchanging
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of reciprocal linking. Ideally, you don’t want to be doing this on link pages. Whereas, exchanging links within blogs (*cough* hopefully all the link builders I’ve mentioned in this article will kindly link back to me from their sites *cough*) is the best way to reciprocate. Agreeing with bloggers in your industry to include a link to each other on a weekly basis, per blog would result in 52 new links a year. Doing this with 10 bloggers per year is 520 incoming links to your site each year!
13. Link Requests
Old school. The most obvious, although what can be a tough way to build links, is to contact the owner of a website(s) directly. To help increase your conversion rate, have something worthwhile to link to (a linkable asset), or build a relationship with them (Twitter/Facebook/Meetings) prior to making your request.
14. Blog/Forum Commenting
Whether they’re nofollow or dofollow, commenting on blogs and in forums helps build up brand awareness. I don’t recommend going over the top and spamming them for the sake of a link, but contributing to the right ones in your industry has potential to build links indirectly further down the line.
15. Guest Blogging
Ann Smarty is a big fan and promoter of guest blogging currently. Blogging on other websites is a perfect opportunity to build in-content links on foreign domains. The general purpose is you contribute high quality insight or information on someone else’s blog in exchange for a link or two within your content. Feel free to write more than one blog post per domain as this helps you build up a relationship with the webmaster, and obviously outbound links from more than one page on their site.
They’ve been popular for a while in the link building industry now. If pulled off correctly, widgets can be a fantastic tool for link building. Creating a useful tool, fun game, news feed widget, whatever you do, if you include a link on the tool back to your site, and then everyone who places the widget on their sites is linking back to you!
The latest trend in the link building world are infographics. Designed to be attractive to the eye and informative at the same time, infographics pick up links. As there are a number of sites/directories you can submit your infographic now, that link back to you, it’s quick and easy to pick up links from the start.
While I haven’t created a separate subheading for link bait, it’s certainly been touched upon. Videos are essentially link bait. Make a video popular on your website and reap the rewards when people link to it. Just one of the many methods of link bait.
19. The Media
Whether it’s through Press Releases or having a story good enough to be picked up by your local or even national news (or pitch to them), if you can get something in the media you’re going to reap the rewards of the link juice they feed.
Running a competition or giving away freebies always goes down well with the public. While these are considered a great way to build brand awareness on the social media side, your competition pages may pick up links also. If not naturally, you can be forceful in requesting links to your page and/or submit them to competition listing directories.
21. Give Out Free Advice
We all love things for free. As part of your quality content initiative, giving out free advice or answering people’s questions is a great way to attract natural links. Again, once you have published this information you can also send email requests for links too.
Sponsoring people, events, communities. Donating to charities. Often your good will will result in them linking to you naturally, maybe a “thank you” blog or a specific page. If not, you can always ask for the link. All for a good cause!
23. Internal Links
Linking to internal pages within your website will build up your website’s link profile. Over time, your internal pages and blog posts are likely to build their own value (and page rank), so linking from these pages to your website make it even more worthwhile. Other hidden gems on your website with page rank are often the about us and/or contact pages – pages that are one step away from your home page and that are linked to from several the home page and other pages from your website. Try not to overdo it though.
One excellent tool Majestic SEO has is the ability to find out mentions of your brand that are not linking to you. You can also use Google Alerts for this, but the general idea is to approach the person/company who is mentioning you or your brand and ask for them to add a hyperlink to it.
25. Local Links
Does your business work with others in the area? Next time you see them, why not ask for them to link to you on their partnerships page, or even the footer of their homepage. This is the same way of building a link partnership, but you’re doing it with businesses you’re already working with, and therefore presumably links your competitors won’t be able to build.
26. Using Social Media
While Facebook is often considered a more personal page, using this for networking has great potential for building links. As does Twitter. And I’m sure there’s other popular social networks out there you can do the same on. Find people in a similar industry (not necessarily competitive), and get socialising with them with the ultimate goal of building a link on their website! You can find more benefits than just link building from these networks.
If you have staff working for you, they can be a great asset when it comes to link building, if they’re taught correctly. You may have a good idea amongst your staff who is going to be better than others at it, and those who could potentially destroy the image of your company! Whether they have their own blog, or have the knowledge to guest blog, participate in forums, socialise on Twitter etc, your employees can be an asset to your link building.
28. Do you have any friends?
Similar to building relationships in your industry, whether via conferences, Facebook, whatever. Having some friends to start with is an easy way to start link building. After all, what are friends for if it’s not for linking to you?
Co-written by Barrie Smith, Receptional Ltd