In the current SEO landscape, if you’re not utilizing strategic link building services to drive traffic, then you’re leaving money on the table. Things are constantly growing and changing and as such, it’s more important than ever, that entrepreneurs understand how to develop high quality and quantity links via a comprehensive link building campaign. Our guide will take you by the hand and lead you through the steps that you need to know, to set up a link building campaign. It’ll help for us to start by defining Link building and analyzing how Search Engines Use them.
What is link building
In the simplest terms possible, the word “link”, refers to a hyperlink to your website, from another person’s website. Thus, link building is a process that increases the number of hyperlinks to your website, from others. Search engines primarily use links in two ways:
- To find new web pages
- To determine how highly to rank a page in their search results
Search engines explore links in a process referred to as “crawling”, in which they move from page to page by following the hyperlinks present. After going through a page, search engines can add the content of a page to their indexes. In order to rank pages, search engines first determine the quality of the page and the quality of the content present. After assessing this, they analyze the number of external links leading to the website. Generally, the higher the number of high quality links there are, the higher the website ranks.
The Core Struggle of SEO
In its early days of operation, Google’s search algorithm accounted for links as a measure of website quality. Essentially, links were taken to represent a positive referral by another website. So pretty much, Google’s programmers assumed that people would give links to pages that deserved them. Soon enough, SEOs learned how to manipulate Google’s search algorithm to get sites to place higher than they should have. In an effort to improve the quality of their search results, Google began counteracting these new SEO techniques by regularly updating their algorithm to filter out sites that didn’t deserve to be ranked as highly as they were. Over time Google has grown more and more conscious of the quality of links that their search engine produces. Their consumers come to them regularly as a source of high quality information, so it only makes sense that they would refine their system to ensure that the pages that rank highest deserve to be there. Google has gone as far as penalizing the rankings of websites who have attempted to “beat the system” with exploits like “grey” or “black hat” SEO. Google’s recent Penguin updates are one of the more recent measures they’ve put in place to ensure search engine effectiveness. See 10 big brands that were penalized by Google. By now, you can probably see how important it is to know what link building techniques you should avoid. Don’t worry too much, we’ve got you covered.
What types of links are there?
As we mentioned earlier, high quality links are an absolute must in the SEO landscape. Google’s persistent effort to improve the quality of their search findings is the driver for this. There was once a time that listing in a directory would earn your site a legitimate link. Those days have gone, and as a matter of fact, Google has begun discounting links to your site from directories, since they were once abused by SEOs. Since the rules of the game are far more strict nowadays, it pays for you to understand exactly what types of links will earn you the most high quality traffic. As well as, what links and techniques you should avoid. Let’s start with the best type of link you can hope to get for your website.
Organic Editorial Links From Brand Mentions
Editorial links are what every website vying for high ranking should aim for. Basically, these are links that are not sponsored, not requested and that happen as a result of producing high quality content and marketing that content on social media sites. It’s a mouthful… I know, but it’s important to understand. When pursuing Editorial links, you need to produce powerful content that gives the Influencers in your industry a reason to share it. So regardless of your niche’ your material must deliver value to your readers, or your pursuit will stop in its tracks.
Influencer Outreach Link building
If you’re just starting out, this is likely the type of link that you’ll pursue most avidly. As the name suggests, this type of link is created by reaching out to influential website owners and bloggers in your Niche’ or similar niches. You’ll need to provide them with a reason to link to your site, so in the case of bloggers with a large and loyal following, try offering something to them that will solve a problem for their clients. Think about it like this… These Social Influencers have worked long and hard to develop their followings and they do so by delivering value. Thus, their relationship with their followings is based on a high amount of implicit trust. As such, social influencers cannot afford to recommend anything that does not actually benefit their following in one way or another. Even worse, they cannot afford to “sell out” and recommend something that is obviously “salesy” since they risk making their following feel exploited. Therefore it’s best to approach Influencers with something that is relevant to their following, solves a problem for a significant portion of them and is FREE. Put these three things together and you can build a huge number of links without spending a dime!
Black-Hat is a term used to describe those techniques that intentionally violate search engine guidelines. In general these techniques attempt to exploit “backdoors” or “loopholes” in search engine algorithms in order to rank websites higher than they might rank otherwise. A few examples of Black-Hat techniques are:
- Keyword Stuffing- which involves repeating keywords to the point of absurdity or extreme redundancy
- Hidden text- Here text is placed in an obscure location on a website and made into the same color as the background. In this way, it increases keyword density (an important concept in on-page SEO, without being redundant.
- Duplicate Content- This one is pretty self explanatory. It involves copying substantial amounts of content from another site with or without explicit permission
These techniques are not effective in the long-term. Just like an immune system, Google’s search algorithm is always adapting to black-hat methods and developing a defense against them. Furthermore, any ranking that you gained via black-hat methods will be lost (and then some) once Google discovers and penalizes your site. And TRUST ME…they’ll find out.
How to Get Onboard the Link-Building Train
Step #1 Define your Goals
Okay, you’re acquainted with the general importance of links and understand enough of how they help your site to see their importance. Now it’s time to get into the greasy stuff. Any time you are actively trying to increase the number of links to your site, and are doing so in an organized fashion according to goals and a timeline, you’re on a link-building campaign. Like any campaign, this one MUST have an end result in mind. So the first and MOST CRITICAL step in any link building campaign is defining your end game. Without a specific and attainable end game in mind, you may fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing “links” but not seeing a real improvement in your business. This is where specificity becomes our weapon. If your aim is to increase the sales of a particular product you are marketing, then your goal should be to increase the amount of “organic” traffic that your site experiences per month via Organic editorial links or outreach editorial links. Organic traffic usually comes from Google’s search engine results, since they are the most commonly used search engine worldwide. Therefore, organic traffic often goes hand in hand with your Google search engine ranking. Organic traffic also carries the most “ready to purchase” individuals since they are searching, usually for an answer to a problem they have. Now, imagine if this wasn’t your specified goal, you may have been prepared to accept traffic from ANYWHERE in the hope that having more visitors would translate to more cash flow. NOT NECESSARILY TRUE! Imagine, if you were a pizza company famous for your version of a meat lover’s pizza. (Ugg….I’m getting hungry just thinking about it). Now imagine, if you accepted a link from a site with a MASSIVE vegan following. Getting the picture? At best, you’ll get traffic that doesn’t give you any business. At worst, you could end up with a very unhappy group of people posting negative reviews on your site. (No criticism to vegans btw, just an example).
Step #2 Identify Your “Sell”
If you’ve got nothing to offer, there is no campaign. End of story. Therefore, once you’ve set your goals, you need to identify what you’re going to be offering in order to earn your links. But what do you offer and to who?
- First, you’ll need to identify who your industry Influencers are. These are people who have the influence to link to you and share your content. It’s the foundation that will catapult you to higher rankings and more traffic.
- Secondly, you’ll need to create content that will appeal to them
How to find the Influencers in your industry You can search Google for broad, non-commercial keywords in your niche. For example, let’s say you run a site that sells low carb diet meal plans: You’d simply search for keywords like: “low carb diet” “low carb recipes” “low carb snacks” “sugar free desserts”. Add the top 40 links to your list of websites Next, you’ll need to look for sites that link to the sites you found above. By definition, because they link to sites in your niche, the people that run these sites are the Influencers in your industry. You can enter each website on your list into Ahrefs to find all the websites that link to it. Any quality niche-related sites are Influencers and should be included in your list. How to find topics that your Influencers care about This process is pretty simple. You simply visit each of your Influencers’ website and social media channels to see what topic they tend to write about and share. Add them to your list of topic ideas and move on to the next step. What type of content does my Influencers like to share? Good question… From my experience, the following are the best types of power content to create:
- Go-To Guidebooks. A Go-To Guidebook is a curated list of links to exceptional content. What’s great about it is that you don’t need to write too much new content. The content framework is strategically designed to maximize backlinks, shares, and traffic.
- Expanded List Post. The Expanded List Post takes the benefits of a traditional list post — like a high CTR — and adds a strategic twist. Instead of simply listing out items, you give people meaty details for each item on your list. This may seem like a trivial detail, but it makes all the difference in the world.
- Awards Bait. The Award Bait is a power content that is created to attract the attention of the Influencers in your industry by stroking their ego.
- Infographic. An infographic is a power content that displays interesting data points that your Influencers agree with. It generates massive amount of shares because most Influencers love to share something that makes them look good.
- The Crowdsourced Manual. A Crowdsourced Manual collects bite-sized opinions and insights from dozens of experts in one place. Because you’re curating knowledge from multiple A-list names in one place, your content has a VERY high Utility.
Whatever you do, focus on solving problems that your potential readers might have.
Step #3 Authority Funneling
What is authority funneling? Once you begin attracting links to one of your power content from Step #2, you’ll want to strategically funnel authority from one page to the next. This strategy allows you to get more traffic to pages on your website that will convert visitors to paying customers. Some examples of where to funnel your links:
- Links directed to your homepage
- Links containing your brand name
- Links containing keywords that you are trying to rank for
- Links to product pages on your website (for clients who are already prepared to buy and are simply looking for where to spend their money)
Of course, these are just a few of the many kinds of pages that you can choose from; Identifying what links will be most effective in any particular situation can be key to maximizing your conversions rate. You can start figuring out what types to use by assessing your current website and where it ranks for certain keywords relevant to your niche. Your assessment will show you possible areas of improvement that may be very critical. For instance you may discover that none of your deeper WebPages have links pointing to them at all! You may also discover opportunities to add links to keywords on your page that you happen to rank well for. Here’s the 3-step process: Authority Funneling: Step #1: Create and Promote a Power Page Step #2: Identify a High-Priority Product, Category or Service Page Step #3: Build Internal Links From Your Power Content to That Page To Wrap Things Up You now have three actionable steps that you can take in order to significantly improve your ranking and traffic via a Link Building Campaign. SO GET STARTED! Feel free to comment on this article with your results!