If you’ve stumbled upon this article, chances are you don’t know where to start with link building for your website and deciding what tactics to use has been a bit overwhelming – or perhaps, your organization has been burned in the past by shady link building practices.
There, there. Don’t fear, my friends. Let this list of best practices be your guide…
Produce quality and relevant content
Link building is most successful when it’s a two-way street. When asking webmasters, editors, and writers to link to your site on their resource page or article, that page needs to provide value to their audience. Both parties should view adding the suggested link as a “win-win”.
But, how do you provide value to your site’s targeted audience? That’s where the importance of producing quality, relevant content comes in. Examples of content that are good for link building can be termed as “linkable assets”. Types of linkable assets include white papers, checklists, infographics and blog posts, to name a few.
Content produced for link building should be non-branded and non-promotional, as webmasters are unlikely to link to content that could be considered a “sales pitch”.
While there’s no firm word count that your content should reach, in-depth, evergreen content is often preferred as this provides more value to an audience over time.
Pursue backlinks on authoritative and relevant sites
When considering outreach opportunities, keep in mind that not all links are created equal. What do we mean? The quality of your potential backlinks should take priority over quantity. This is done by aggressively pursuing opportunities on authoritative news and industry publications, educational websites (.edu), government websites (.gov), and reputable organizations (.org).
Always target opportunities that are relevant to your company’s (or client’s) industry. Even if the domain isn’t highly authoritative, it could still be worthwhile if it’s relevant for both parties.
Look for the quick wins
There are numerous white-hat tactics for building links to your site, and it’s wise to use a variety of them.
What better place to look for linking opportunities than from the companies/customers that love you the most? Reach out to those that your company is in business with and see if there is an opportunity to earn a link on their site. Given the pre-existing relationship between the two parties, this greatly increases your chances of landing a high-quality, relevant link.
Adopt a holistic approach to link building
If you truly want to see results, it can’t be considered a one-off project. It requires time, a whole lot of hard work, and some patience.
I can promise you this: If the time and effort is taken to build relationships with bloggers, journalists and webmasters, and quality content is consistently produced, it’s well worth the investment.
Don’t only take my word for it. Take Google’s word for it. Google Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lipattsev stated that links pointing to your site is one of the three most important search ranking factors.
Speaking of don’ts…
Don’t engage with low-quality blogs, low-quality link directories, and spammy sites
While you might want to build as many links as possible, resist this temptation.
When the quality of your site’s backlinks is sacrificed for the sake of quantity – can start to get into trouble with search engines. In fact, not only will low-quality links not help your site, it can potentially be penalized. Due to Google’s Penguin update, when Google notices an inordinate amount of low-quality links pointing to a site, that site will get penalized in their search rankings.
How can you tell if a site is not worth reaching out to for a link? Start with the eye test. If it’s a site that you wouldn’t want your brand affiliated with, pass on it. Easy. Right?
Other red flags include sites that are overrun with ads, have undesired content (e.g. mentions of online casinos or pornography), or advertising for paid links.
Don’t suggest specific anchor text
Suggesting specific anchor text to webmasters is an outdated and unhelpful SEO tactic. In order to avoid rewarding sites with unnatural “keyword stuffing” in their content, Google favors sites that show a healthy variety of anchor text in a site’s backlink profile. When Google notices an unnatural amount of links with the same anchor text pointing to a site, it’s at risk of being penalized.
Therefore, I would recommend you allow webmasters, editors, and writers to decide what anchor text to use when adding your link to their site.
Don’t participate in link exchange schemes
When Google notices an unnatural number of links being exchanged by two domains, it a red flag. For this reason, it’s best to avoid excessive “if you link to me, I’ll link to you” type of schemes. That’s not to say it needs to be avoided entirely, but we recommend being very selective about who you choose to give a reciprocal link. Choose only to give reciprocal links to those that are relevant to your industry and provide value to your audience.
Proceed with extreme caution when discussing paid link placement. Paying for “do-follow” links puts your site at risk of penalty. Only entertain a paid link from reputable sites that follow Google advertising and webmaster guidelines.
Don’t engage in black-hat link building tactics
Over the years, there’ve been several tactics designed to shortcut natural search engine rankings. Examples of these tactics include:
- Cloaking: Attempting to deceive by presenting different content or URLs to search engines and users.
- Hidden text links: Attempting to hide the appearance of stuffing keywords on a page by making them hard to find (e.g. white text on white background, locating text behind an image).
- Injecting links: Hacking into a site you don’t own to insert a link.
Any tactics that are designed to manipulate Google’s search engine rankings are not worth the risk. Google is constantly on the lookout for these black-hat tactics. Sites that do this will get penalized and might never recover.
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