Link building is the simple but powerful tactic of getting other websites to link back to the content on your site. This is a vital component in search engine optimisation (SEO), because the more backlinks your site has, the higher Google ranks it as a reputable resource.
However, the process of link building has to be approached in the right way: avoid established ‘black hat’ strategies like buying links, keyword stuffing or scraping and spinning content, all of which can be effective in the short term but put you at high risk of a Google penalty.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some useful white hat methods for building quality backlinks that will ensure a long-term payoff for your search rankings and your business.
1] Business Directories
Maybe this is a surprising place to start, because let’s face it: directories have an unfortunate history of link spam. However, Google’s Penguin algorithm purged the worst offenders, and directories do still have a role in link building, provided that you keep both relevance and quality in mind.
A simple way to work out if this method is right for you is to Google the search terms relevant to your business. If the top results include directories that have been around for some time, contain a decent number of reputable links, and have real people that approve the content, then why not go and get listed yourself?
Make sure you supply consistent contact details, as this is important when it comes to rank well in the local organic search results. As well as good SEO strategy, this is an effective marketing tactic that should help highlight your business credibility.
2] Backlink research
Good quality backlinks can be hard to come by, so you need to do your research. Part of this is learning what constitutes a quality link and how best to place it on a site, to ensure you’re really taking advantage of the most effective white hat backlinking strategies.
Then you need to establish your targets. Check how your competitors have built their links – this might show easy wins like blog comments or getting contacts in the same industry to provide backlinks, or it might give you higher-value prospects that you can reach out to.
There are a number of tools available, such as Ahrefs, that will index this information for you and give you both tactics to employ and sites to target directly.
3] Broken link building
Essentially, this is the practice of contacting websites that contain broken links to resources similar to yours, pointing out the broken link, and suggesting your site as a replacement.
It sounds simple, but it’s actually quite difficult to get it right: not only is it a time-consuming process to find the links, but there’s no guarantee that a broken link will be fixed in your favour (if it’s fixed at all!).
If you approach it in the right way, though, it can be a really powerful part of your link building process, and there’s plenty of in-depth information available on how to go about it, including this article at #http://www.jeffbullas.com/broken-link-building/.
4] Add value to your content
We’re going to talk about two ways of adding value here. The first is internal links, which is something that you have complete control over and gives you an easy and effective win without huge effort.
By creating links to your own content, using relevant search keywords as anchor text, you can ensure customers stay on your site longer and also boost your search rankings. Also, check all of your current backlinks work correctly and none of your internal links are broken; there are plenty of tools available to find and fix broken links.
The second way is differentiated content. This might sound like a marketing tool, but if you can create captivating and unique content, you’re more likely to attract quality backlinks. There’s plenty of content out there, but distinctive content draws attention and that in turn improves page rankings.
5] Guest blogging
Despite Google’s Matt Cutts’s now infamous (and as it turns out inaccurate) declaration in 2014 that ‘guest blogging was dead’, the method has proved remarkably resilient. Guest blogging these days, however, relies on finding the right location – which might be anything from a niche site to an industry leader – and concentrating on the content. A bunch of links isn’t nearly enough, plus it’s likely to get you into trouble with Google.
Ultimately guest blogging is a way to put your business or site in front of industry connections and influencers and enhance your visibility. Create compelling content that attracts readers and comments, and linkbacks are a welcome bonus result.
These tactics should provide you with a starting point for building up your backlinks and boosting your search rankings: in summary, focus your efforts on research and quality.