Link building in 2013 should still be a very important part of your SEO efforts, and it should still be a priority for your online marketing campaign.
A good link profile is key to ranking highly on the search engine results pages. It seems that these days, having thousands of low quality links can actually damage your search engine rankings. It used to be that links were viewed as votes from other websites. Lots of links meant lots of votes, and so websites with lots of backlinks would climb up the search engine results pages quickly. But currently, links are more like online “opinions” and so it is important to have links (or opinions) coming from the correct sources. For example, a link from a soap website to a cheese website will hold little value, but a link from a dairy to a cheese website is stronger and more relevant.
If you are reading this article then you are probably looking to formulate an effective link building strategy. By now you have most likely already read a dozen articles telling you how not to build links. What you are probably ready to read is how you can build quality links without being penalised by the next Google algorithm! Here are some suggested quality link building techniques that are actionable now and are safe link building techniques.
Google has devalued links from many directories and it is partially true to say that links from directories no longer carry the value they once did. However this is not true for all directory listings. If you look at human-edited directories with old established domains such Business.com, Yahoo Directory or Best Of The Web then you may still find some potential here but to be fair at a premium, listings on these directories are expensive. Looking at human edited niche directories may be an additional or even a better option. Relevance is the key though. For instance a link from a web design directory to a web design website is a good link. A link to a web designer’s website from a directory about pet cats is not a good link.
Creating quality content that is shareable is a fantastic way to build links. Asking a website or blog owner to publish content you have created for them to use is far more likely to result in a link than an email asking them to link to your website. Let’s face it would you link to a stranger’s website if they sent you a request by email out of the blue?
The beauty of building links with infographics is that they are semi-scalable. Write a 200-300 word unique piece of text that can be used with the infographic and you have a unique piece of content that you can scale. Host the infographic on your own blog with a high quality article and you are truly making the most out of your content creation. Add an embed code to your blog piece and you can gain more links by allowing other bloggers and webmasters to use your content, of course with a link back to the original source!
Broken Link Building
Broken links need to be fixed as soon as possible. I don’t think anyone would argue with this. However sometimes when you link out to a great resource on another website, six months or two years down the line the page may no longer exist due to a url change or even a site being taken offline. Large websites often have many broken links. Finding these broken links and giving the webmaster a quick heads up is a great way to build relationships with webmasters within your niche.
Take this one step further and create a page on your own website that provides the content or resource they once linked to. Make it a quality piece of content and ask them to link to it; they linked out once before so they might link to your suggested content this time. By researching the link profile of the page that no longer exists using a tool such as Open site explorer you can find other opportunities to build links and relationships. Finding broken links not only helps clean up the web but also helps you build relationships within your niche in addition to building links to your website.
You should place comments and links on niche blogs and be sure to give relevant and high-quality comments. Spamming a token comment and dropping in a link will just have your comment deleted. When conducting link building, the last thing you need is a reputation as a spammer. You are not only trying to build links but you should also be trying to establish relationships within your niche. Adding your comment should be done in such a way as to add to the original post or article and if you link out in your comment make sure it is to a relevant and useful resource. Another thing to consider when blog commenting is don’t waste your time commenting on blogs that are already full of spammy links to irrelevant websites. Remember it is quality not quantity with relevance being the key.
Guest blogging is a truly fantastic way of building links, relationships and also your audience to your website. Providing quality content to a blog owner to publish on their blog is a win, win situation. The blog owner gets a piece of free content and you receive a link from a related website that will also help build your audience and hopefully customers of the future. Think of it as going on stage as a support band for a more popular group. If you are producing music of a similar style then you are likely to gain some new fans. The management of the more popular band are more likely to use you as a support band if your music appeals to the same audience. Well the same applies with guest blogging.
When choosing which blogs to approach, think about relevance and also are you likely to build your audience. Sending over a rubbish piece of content is unlikely to get you published. Is the content something you would be happy to publish yourself? If it is then you now need to find a blog that is good enough to publish your article. Find a blog ideally in your niche and write for their audience. When gust blogging don’t get caught up in the link building aspect only, think about the relationship and audience building aspects. Remember this and you are more than half way there.
Branded Links vs. Keyword Anchor Text
Your anchor text is important because it tells the search engines what the landing page is all about. In the past gaining as many keyword rich anchor text links as possible was an effective way of link building. This is no longer the case as it makes for an unnatural link profile. Branded links is probably a far safer way to go as it is unlikely any future penalty will be put in place for branded links. Don’t get me wrong anchor text links still have a place but don’t go over the top chasing just two or three keywords in your anchor text, diversify your choice of anchor text. It is better to create a gentle balance between the two, instead of favouring one over the other.
Quality Link Building in 2013
Building links is no longer about pointing hundreds or even thousands of links to your domain and who cares where they come from! Quality link building in 2013 is more about earning links from related websites that will help you build relationships and will also generate traffic to your website irrespective of search engines. Generally speaking the harder you have to work for your links then the higher value they will probably be. Relevance is key to any link building strategy with emphasis being on quality rather than quantity.