As web writers, we understand the value of creating quality content that is relevant and adds value to the topic. Search engines love quality content, and rank it high on their lists of search results.
Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals. — Google
We also know that having links in our content is important. If you’ve kept up on the latest news about link building, then you know that strategies are constantly changing. That’s because search engine algorithms change frequently. Case in point: Google changes its search engine algorithms over 500 times a year. That’s a lot. But they do it because they want to produce the highest quality search results for their users. Just like we continually keep up on the latest writing techniques to produce the highest quality content for our clients.
Link building in particular is a hot topic of discussion on the Internet. Do a quick search on it, and you’ll find hundreds of articles that talk about how to do it. Why is that? Simple: because all webmasters know that having links from other sites to theirs is key to getting more traffic. But webmasters often don’t realize that there are strategies and then there are Strategies.
Little “s” strategies often end up getting used and abused by content mills because they’re lazy methods. They are shortcuts used to get massive amounts of hits in a short period of time. Search engines know this, and take this into account when displaying search results. Google in particular has been on a path to eliminate these types of websites from their search results over the last year or so (what they call web-spam), and their latest update, Penguin, shook things up online for a lot of people. (Click here to read more about it.)
In short, the Google Penguin update penalized search results for sites that:
- Bought and sold links
- Spammed others asking for links (by this I mean they spam thousands of sites asking for a cross-link, and don’t just send out 10 email requests)
- Built pages on their site exclusively to cross-link to (because both incoming and outgoing links are noticed by search engines)
- Inserted keyword hyperlinks that made no sense in the content (the “Jimmy was walking across Hawaiian vacation when he started surfing” type of incoherent sentence you see on occasion.)
Those sites who realized long ago that the key to building a successful website is to have sustained web traffic weren’t affected by these updates. Why is that? Because they already produced quality content on their sites that was rewarded by search engines, and they used legitimate link-building strategies as part of their content creation. They were using link-building Strategies.
Here are some of those quality link-building Strategies you can use on your site today:
- Make sure your content always answers the question “what’s in it for me?” Good web writers already know this, but it bears repeating: make sure your content answers this question. If it does, your readers are more likely to share it with others, and do your link building for you.
- Diversify your content. Start off with a blog post, then do a video on YouTube, comment on an industry-related forum, send out a press release, create an email newsletter, put ALT links on all the images on your website, submit testimonials, solicit testimonials, participate in social media, create an infographic, and so on.
- Network with influencers and other people. Build relationships with them, and things will progress organically. Read their blogs and articles. Comment on them. If you see them at an event, go up and introduce yourself. Create a bond with them, and they’ll recognize you going forward. They’ll retweet one of your tweets. They’ll comment on one of your blog posts. They’ll say yes when you ask to do a guest post for them. You wouldn’t write a guest post for someone who emailed you randomly one week. But you would write one for someone you’ve chatted with on email and Twitter, right?
- Find good links to use on your site. Do a search for your desired target keywords, and then look for quality content to link to. It might be a post on a corporate blog, a video on YouTube, a testimonial on Amazon, or a newsletter in your industry. If they’re getting good traffic, then it makes sense to link to them as well, right?
- Become an expert at recognizing a Good site. A good rule of thumb is to see how much social activity there is on the site. Do they use Twitter/Facebook/Reddit/StumbleUpon? Are their posts or articles shared a lot on these sites? If so, then they’re probably a good candidate to link to because they’re getting a lot of traffic to their site. On the other hand, consider if there a lot of advertising on the site. Is it hard to find the actual content because there’s so many ads on it? This is probably not a good site to link to.
- Be on the lookout for traffic. Remember, one of the reasons you’re linking to other sites is to increase your site’s visitor count. So make sure the site you’re linking to already has traffic. A lot of social media love is a good sign.
- Find sites that should link to you, but don’t. This might seem like you’re doing the other person’s work here, and you are, but it will benefit you in the long run. For example, if your site is about travelling to Hawaii, and you find a site that talks about day excursions in Hawaii, linking to them might be a good idea. Send them a polite email and see what they say. (This is a good opportunity to practice your guest post request emails.)
- Create a post list. You’ve seen this everywhere, so why don’t you do one of your own? You could do a weekly round-up of articles and posts from around the Internet. Heather Lloyd-Martin does this regularly on her site, which is a great idea.
- Link to content in different ways. This article is a good example of that: there are links with standard “click here” phrasing (in the introduction), links with recognized product names (in #5 and 10), and links to descriptive content (#8).
- Comment on other blogs. Often when you do, you’re asked to fill out your name, email, and website address. Instead of putting your main site’s URL, you could put in the URL to a relevant blog post or article. There are also WordPress plugins that let you display a random post from a commenter’s site automatically (CommentLuv is one). Use this on your site, and show your community some love too.
- Link internally to your own site. This one’s an easy one to do, as you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission, but it should be done sparingly, as it could run afoul of Google’s Penguin/web-spam meter. Just make sure you’re linking to relevant content, and you’ll be fine. (Like this article on Wealthy Web Writer about a crash course on SEO copywriting. It’s about creating quality content, so it’s okay to link to.)
- Be social and share your content. If you’re active on social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, you should be sharing your content on there. This gets your content out to different people and businesses, and again increases your chances of people linking to it.
- Be generous and share other’s content. Just like you want them to share your great content, you’ve got to share theirs too. It all goes back to the “social” nature of social media. It’s a give and take, not just take.
- Be active in your community offline. If you’re helping local businesses, ask them to post your link on their site. Leave your business cards at their front counter. Put your URL on stickers and hand those out to clients. I actually have sponsorship space on a client’s pit sign in a motocross racing league. I created his website for him and in return, he offered to put my logo and URL on his sign.
- Always be link building. You must be on the lookout for link-building opportunities at all times. This is not one of those “set it and forget it” things. Like marketing, it’s got to be done on a regular, consistent basis. You can use tools to help out, like HootSuite or Reddit, but you still have to do the work.
These are just some of the link-building Srategies you can use for yourself or your clients. What ones have been working for you? I’d love to hear about them, as I’m always looking to add more to my link-building arsenal.