Making a website grow and gain a strong online presence requires smart digital marketing strategies. A lot of input from different online marketing categories can be combined to propel a website to the top of search engines, helping it attract high targeted visitors. However, getting such a website to maintain its top-ranking status is another situation altogether.
Search engine algorithms, especially Google’s, can undergo unpredictable changes that can change things negatively for any website–permanently. This could see websites with high ranks slump to the bottom of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) in a flash. A lot of sites have suffered this fate with the transformative penguin and panda updates as well as others like Hummingbird and Rankbrain.
Digital marketers have since been looking for ways to protect websites from the horror of being axed again through another update after months – and perhaps years – of hard work. One of the strategies that can avert this is aligning each website’s link building to the primary reasons search engines exist. While this may sound simple, it isn’t easy and is considered the path not taken as many SEOs simply do not engage in it.
If you’re ready to future-proof your digital marketing and SEO efforts, then advanced link-building is just what you need. Through this guide, you’ll learn the tactics involved in building links the right way to achieve excellent results.
What is Link building?
Link building simply entails building a high-quality backlink profile by getting other websites, which are related to yours, to link back to your web pages. Links help web users easily navigate between web pages. Search engines crawl the web using links. To rank your website, crawlers will evaluate the links between your web pages as well as the entire website.
A lot is involved in link building and there are many tactics used to approach it. While the difficulties of many link-building strategies vary, SEO experts agree that it is one of the most difficult aspects of their profession and many marketers spend a lot of their time building healthy link profiles for their websites while others get overwhelmed.
Google crawlers now understand the differences between good and bad link profiles. To escape the ire of Google and ensure the success of your website in the long-term, you need to build your links organically, this means that you have to earn the links pointing to your website rather than engaging in shady practices like buying links or acquiring them through questionable strategies. If you can get it right, your website stands a chance of getting ahead of its competition.
Why Link Building Is Important for SEO
The importance of link building comes from the fact that Google has placed links as a major factor in ranking web pages. Links are important to Google because it’s a part of their rich history. Larry Page, one of Google’s founders, introduced PageRank, which was used to assess the quality of websites and how to place them on Google’s result page by measuring the number of links pointing to them, amongst other things. This method was one of the reasons Google provided searchers with high quality result pages. It is still a ranking signal because quality pages are still unearthed this way.
As time went on, SEO players began to abuse link building by buying links and engaging in dubious practices to populate their websites with links. This made Google roll out regular algorithm updates that began to filter out defaulting websites from the result pages. From then, SEO began to profit only those who used smart and sincere means to acquire their backlinks.
What to Do Before You Build Links
Before you kick-start your link building campaign, it’s important that you set up your goals and a clear strategy that will be followed. Link building will go on to be a continuous process but the future of your digital marketing will depend on the foundation of your entire strategy.
You should first carry out a technical link audit on your website to understand where you currently stand in that department. This will ensure that you weed out bad links and that you don’t build on an unhealthy link profile. Going forward, you should conduct research on which sites you want to get links from, a keyword research strategy, as well as measuring the value of links you want pointing to your website.
How to Check the Value of Links
In 2012, Google started penalising blogs and websites that were “overoptimised”. This term is used to refer to web pages that amassed many links through means that Google deems dubious. This includes buying links and engaging in link schemes to manipulate PageRank to climb higher in result pages. To escape this, it’s important that you evaluate the sites that are linking to your own website. You can do this by identifying that the site you’re requesting a link from is closely related to yours and also has a healthy link profile.
Identifying Link Opportunities
You have to analyse how to get links to your website. There are many opportunities that you can exploit in this regard.
You need to identify authority websites that are operating in the same niche as you, check the links they already have in order to assess how yours can fit in and prove helpful, check and notify these sites of broken links, and pitch to them about linking to your site. Another way to identify an opportunity is to find influencers in your industry and have them link to your website.
You’ll find out more on this as the article unfolds.
How to Reclaim Missed Linking Opportunities
Losing backlinks is a common phenomenon but can be frustrating. It takes a lot of work to get authority pages to link to your website. With the right strategy, you can make sure no linking opportunity permanently goes to waste. There are strategies that you can implement to ensure you win back your links.
Links are lost for multiple reasons which make it imperative that you understand what made you lose your links in order to approach reclaiming them the right way. If the page that is linked to is broken and was removed by the web master, you can get it working again and inform them.
If for some other reason your link was removed, perhaps due to a new external linking blanket policy, your content was considered sub-par, or your website was flagged to have engaged in shady practices, then you can find a solution accordingly.
Link building Strategies that work
If you don’t get your links through organic means, you’ll simply be putting yourself at risk of low rankings or severe penalties from Google. However, this doesn’t mean that your organic link building endeavour will definitely work despite the strategy you employ.
There’s a right and wrong way to approach link building and doing things the wrong way would naturally mean wasting valuable time and resources. The following are proven link strategies that can help you secure your SEO efforts in the future.
Link roundups are selected blog updates where webmasters link out to external web pages with high quality content within a given time span. You can use them to your advantage and build your link profile by searching for them and sending a convincing email to the site administrators to have them link to your site when their next update comes up.
This largely depends on how good your email is as well as the level of your content’s quality. So before you pitch for their next update, make sure that:
- Your email is convincing
- You have created a recent (or recently updated) high quality content
- Your content has a high value to their users
You can find link roundup opportunities by searching for the right terms through Google and also looking for blogs related to your niche on Twitter with hash tags.
Resource pages are similar to link roundups in the sense that they’re packed with links to content which is deemed relevant to the site’s audience. Some of the differences between resource pages and link roundups stem from the fact that link roundups are regularly updated and mostly feature recently published or updated content whereas resource pages are one time updates with the pages linking high quality, evergreen content.
They are also different in terms of how pitches to the site administrators are made. While you can pitch for your website to be linked after the content or page is set up with a resource page, when it comes to a link roundup, you have to make your pitch before the next update is published.
You can identify a resource page by looking for content that contains certain info that isn’t really explained, but is detailed in an article on your website. This way, you can easily pitch to the webmaster letting them know how relevant your article is to their audience.
Broken Link Building
Broken links are anti-tools to any SEO endeavour. They can hurt your website and digital marketing campaign and cause you to lose a large number of site visitors. There’s nothing more frustrating for site visitors than to be greeted by error messages when they click on a link. Every SEO expert understands this and so would other webmasters.
Broken link building is a strategy where you bring to the notice of a site administrator damaged links on some of their content which can easily be remedied by linking to a page on your website that deals with the same issue. This tactic is highly effective. You can make use of certain tools to source broken links on each page you visit.
Guest posting is one of the best methods to build links fast and the process is relatively easy. It involves pitching to site administrators to host content that you’ve written on their blogs or other web pages. While this process may be easier than certain link building tactics, it can get difficult if you don’t create relevant, high quality content on a regular basis.
If you get it right, your website will not only enjoy a high organic link profile, you’ll also reap from the SEO benefits, increase traffic to your site, build relationships with key industry players and influencers, as well as enhance the exposure of your brand.
You can find guest posting opportunities by simply searching for the keyword “write for us” and you’ll be greeted by websites actively seeking guest posts. You can also pitch to authority sites directly but if you’re still new to the game, I’d recommend that you stick to the first strategy until you’ve built a reputation for yourself.
This strategy stands on the ‘grey hat’ side of SEO tactics, meaning that it is close to buying links but it isn’t as shady and you’ll not be necessarily breaking any rules. In principle, this is similar to guest posting except that you’ll have to pay for your article to be hosted on the site.
You can simply explore a sponsored post opportunity by offering to pay for high quality content to be posted on a website and making it clear that you’re specifically offering ‘native’ advertising rather than banner ads.
“Solicited” or Unsolicited Reviews on Review Sites
You can also smartly link to web pages providing informational content on review sites. You can use solicited reviews, which implies asking your customers – who are satisfied with your products – to link to some of your pages while writing their review. Other customers can simply do this without being asked but this depends on how happy they are with your content.
Regain Lost Links (Link Reclamation)
As time goes on, your website can lose high-quality backlinks. You shouldn’t panic as this often happens. With a good strategy, you can reclaim the links you’ve lost and get them back on your backlinks profile .
First, you’ll need to find the links that are lost and understand why they were removed by the host site. You can find out by utilising tools like SEMRush, Majestic, Ahrefs, or Moz. When you catch the links, you can go to the site to see if:
- Your link was removed because they deemed it poor in which case you can increase the quality of your content and pitch to them again.
- Their website was recently updated and your link got lost in the mix of things which makes things easy as you can just remind them to put it back.
- If they got rid of your link because they don’t like your website’s content.
Claim Unlinked Mentions
If you’re doing a remarkable job with your SEO efforts, online and offline ad campaigns, as well as investing in great PR management through social media, your brand and website will get a lot of mentions on certain blogs.
You can take advantage of these mentions by letting the bloggers know that they should link to your web pages. You can make use of certain tools like Google Alerts, Mention, and IFTT to track mentions of ‘your brand’ or ‘your name’.
The Synonym Method
This involves looking for websites that are operating in the same niche as you but are not a direct competition. You can easily pitch to them that you have great content that can work for their audience and clients where you’ll incorporate a link back to your website. This strategy can work really well if approached correctly from searching for the right websites to delivering a smart pitch.
You can find these sites by using search engines, twitter, and other search operators.
There’s an incorrect notion about blog comments being spam. This is certainly not true. In fact, they’re one of the best ways to grow the traffic of any website as well as their link profiles. They work best when used to promote relevant, fresh content, rather than sales and product pages.
Any content relevant to your niche that is posted by any website is an opportunity to write comments. You should note that editors regularly filter out comments that are deemed spammy and add no value to the content or their site. If your comments or link are to be accepted, then you have to post well thought-out comments.
This is another effective means for building links for your website. This can be valuable if your website is new and you want to drive traffic and promote content which are valuable elements for SEO. You can easily find where discussions relevant to your website are going on and you can post comments with links that are valuable to what’s being discussed.
Pitches are not required for any forum as all you’re required to do is post a value adding comment to the thread and contribute to the discussion. In some cases, you may need to be a member of these sites to be able to post comments.
Land Press Links
This is one way to get high value links from authority press websites like Forbes, HuffPost, Thought Catalog, Entrepreneur, and Inc. You may have to pay for this though. Major publications have three different categories of people whose articles go on their sites: staff writers and editors as well as external contributors.
You can find contributors of each publication that major in writing content relevant to your industry and website and send a pitch. You may have to offer something worthwhile and ensure the content they’re linking to is relevant.
Local Blogger Outreach (local SEO)
There will be bloggers within your locality that are covering subjects related to your industry. This is a great link building opportunity as local SEO is also a ranking signal for audience close to you who are searching for things related to your business or site. Some of these bloggers cover viral issues in tech, fashion, and travel industries, and it’s easy to find one that is perfect for your site.
There are so many opportunities here and you can unearth them with simple local search queries by affixing your locality or turning on your location when searching.
Video Links (Pillowing)
Before amassing contextual links, new websites ideally need some tender care such as media links. These initial links are known as ‘pillowing’ links and are valuable for growing a great link profile that can boost a website’s ranking.
While video links are mostly ‘no follow’ links, adding to your link profile through video sharing sites can prove beneficial. These links will not just enhance your budding profile; they will also help drive crazy traffic to your website.
To get this done, you’ll have to post videos to qualify. You can use a PowerPoint presentation with images if you don’t have the money for a great video production or you can alternatively go for a decent explainer video if you can afford it.
Directory Links (Pillowing)
Directories are huge websites which operate as online business phonebooks. They are mostly high authority sites and due to their large number, you have the opportunity to exploit them and build a ton of links to your website and increase your profile in a short period. It’s also a pillowing method for new websites.
The reputation of directories with regard to SEO has been tainted over the years due to serious spamming from online advertisers. To build a healthy link profile from any directory, you have to engage in manual research to find the right ones for your web pages. Buying them on Fiverr is not recommended. When you get the right directory, all you have to do is submit your business profile with a link to your website.
Professional Organisations (Pillowing)
No matter what you’re into and the niche of your website, there must be a dozen professional organisations related to your business. Through these organisations, you can build high authority links to your website. Your job will be to find the websites of these organisations and place a profile on a dedicated page about your business.
This type of link building is essential to new websites and can also contribute to building traffic and increasing your site’s authority.
Conference and Event Links
This strategy can be difficult but it comes with loads of benefits. To get started, you’ll have to attend or host an event, be a speaker at a function or conference, or host a meet up.
While this happens to be a lot of work, your business will enjoy a lot of boost from it. It’s also important that you get in touch from time to time with other players in your industry to develop your business.
Making infographics involves aggregating data in images. Infographics have a lot of value in the sense that they can be used repeatedly without posing the risk of duplication penalties, unlike plain text content. You can utilise infographics for link building in two ways:
- Submitting your infographics to visual aggregation sites which can serve as a great ‘pillowing’ tactic for new websites as well as
- Pitching your infographic to other websites as a guest post.
You can easily search for sites that accept guest posts and pitch your infographics to them. It’ll be smart to go for sites that have used infographics on their blogs.
This method was developed by Brian Dean and has proven to be a massive hit with SEO since its introduction. It involves looking for web pages that have a lot of backlinks and creating a more relevant, high quality content than they currently hae, and pitching to the websites that have linked to it, informing them that you’ve created a better ‘mousetrap’.
You can make use of Ahrefs Content Explorer or BuzzSumo to find web pages with lots of inbound links and social shares that you can turn into better versions and get linked to.
Cold Blogger Outreach
There are thousands of blogs out there that must be closely related to your website and every one of them represents a link building opportunity. There are many ways to go for blogger outreach. Some include:
This involves curating a group of bloggers that focus on the same niche as you. After this, you’ll send an email when you get an idea for a great post or have already written one. This will be effective if the post contains valuable insights, case studies, and useful data they can refer to in the future to support claims.
This involves directly contacting other bloggers for promotional exchanges, such as reciprocating a tweet or link.
Finally, you can send out direct emails asking for links to your website. It’ll be wise to do this with some moderation as too many requests can get on people’s nerves.
Write for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are recent introductions by Google where a simple answer box pops up after a search, showing a brief definition of what the user is looking for. While this looks cooler for an average searcher, every snippet hosts a link building for opportunity for your site. You can search for snippets with keywords that are relevant to your website and pitch to the site administrators. You can use Ahrefs to find featured snippet opportunities.
Create Link-Worthy Content
The content on your website has to be of high quality and relevant to the site you’re pitching to before they can accept your proposition. No website administrator will choose to link to content that is irrelevant. It’s also important that you update your content regularly.
Talk on Podcasts and at Events
You can get backlinks by being a guest speaker on a podcast or an event. This method is sure to get you authority links as well as high traffic. You can also host your own events or podcasts, invite guest speakers, and have them link the media and promotion to your site as well.
Host an Event
By hosting an event, participants, fellow organisers, as well as guest speakers can get to mention you on their web pages and throw in a link to your website as they do. Event hosting will also double as a traffic building and business growing endeavour.
If you enter an award and get as little as a nomination, people in your industry will want to identify themselves with you. Not only will you get links from the organiser’s website and other featured articles, your business will also grow to be an authority.
Link to Influencers in Your Own Posts
While inbound links are pure SEO gold, external links from your website can also influence SEO. However, the kind of web pages you’re linking to will matter a great deal, and you can link to your industry’s key influencer to boost your link profile.
Find and Grab competitors’ backlinks
This is similar to the skyscraper technique but is more straightforward. You can easily look for pages on your competitor’s website that are ranking higher than yours and create pages better than theirs. After this, find out websites linking to these articles and alert them that you have content that can benefit their audience.