Misinformation in light of Google’s Penguin update has caused the term “link building” to be viewed as taboo. But, is deliberate link building outreach actually a cause for concern?
Quite the contrary. Many SEO experts believe link building is more essential than ever, and Google continues to tout its significance as a ranking factor. What has changed is the abundance of black-hat link building practices, such as link farms and link exchanges, which destroy a website’s natural link profile.
No longer does Google want to give precedence to companies and advertisers that shell out big bucks for irrelevant and low-quality links. This development has caused many businesses and digital marketing agencies to take a long hard look at their link building practices, and carefully sort through what is legitimate and what is not.
Fortunately, there are link building strategies that ACTUALLY work.
#1) Engage in informed and insightful outreach.
Guest posting allows you to get your business’ name out there, while simultaneously establishing it as an authority within an industry, or on a specific subject matter.
Reach out to industry blogs and publications to guest post, and in return, they’ll usually offer a link in the body or author bio. There are plenty of bloggers and editors that would happily accept free content from competent writers that are experts in their field. Finding them can be done with a simple Google search using these, and other, helpful phrases:
- “keyword phrase” + “write for us”
- “keyword phrase” + “guest post”
- “keyword phrase” + “submissions”
In the aforementioned examples, the keyword phrase would be whichever industry you’re looking to target.
The best part about this strategy is that it boosts your credibility, and allows your piece to be picked up by other publishers that will give you a gratis link to your site. Make sure to keep your outreach personalized, and avoid sending out a generic-sounding template – this will just turn publishers off.
If you can find the name of the person that manages the blog, always address them by name in the email, and comment on specific pieces/posts that impressed you or inspired you to pursue their publication.
#2) Invite reviews & customer opinions.
There are many websites dedicated to product reviews, with experts that will happily review your product or service in exchange for a link. While some companies hesitate on this strategy because they feel it relinquishes too much control (what if the review is negative?!), it’s an extremely effective and honest way to generate referral traffic.
You can also donate your product to industry bloggers in exchange for an honest review containing links back to your site or the product itself. While this may cost a little more, it can be well worth it, especially if the blogger has a large following that is sure to benefit from your product.
#3) Be an educational & informative resource.
There’s nothing better than being considered trustworthy enough to be linked to as a reference/resource. This method is especially attainable for businesses that have blogs or resource pages that they frequently update with new and informative (non-sales and non-promotional) content.
If you have the resources to conduct your own industry research or study, this is another great tactic. Engaging in the development of educational content elevates public perception of your brand’s sincerity and knowledge. Furthermore, writers will want to link to those educational resources for their own articles.
#4) Formulate relationships.
Finding links and suitable publishers doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s estimated that it takes even the most advanced and experienced link builder 8 hours to secure one link. One way to shorten this time span is to develop relationships with publishers for recurring links.
Forging relationships with publishers opens the door to other publishers you can work with. So, make sure to keep exchanges amicable, and always thank publishers for their time and consideration in publishing your piece.
#5) Find relevant & authoritative industry directories.
Web directories used to be the way to get easy links – and that’s why many of them were penalized in the Penguin update. That said, there are still legitimate, industry-specific web directories on which you can list and link to your business.
The operative term here is “industry-specific.” Web directories with no real focus, which appear to just post a listing for anybody willing to pay their nominal fee, are a no-go. Seek out directories that have an editorial process, where the fee you pay is to have someone review and approve your listing, not to accept it without a second thought.
These directories are more reliable and more likely to garner referral traffic. According to Search Engine Journal, a quality directory listing could earn you a 50-60 percent increase in traffic.
#6) Locate broken links.
This is a great beginner strategy that allows you to start your outreach with the publisher’s best interests in mind. You can use plenty of free tools to locate broken links on various websites, such as the Dead Link Checker or Dr. Link Check.
Then, if you have a resource on your site that could replace the dead link, you can reach out to the publisher and offer for them to replace the dead link with your resource. Most publishers will be grateful, especially since broken links can harm rankings.
Link building can be challenging, and it’s easy to burn out. If it’s any consolation, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Guest posting is the best and most reliable approach, but directory and broken link-building might be a great way to start off and practice your outreach.
All in all, with an effective link building strategy, your website could see a major rankings boost and renewed traffic volume. With an ineffective one, however, it can very much suffer the opposite.