With a firm understanding of good and bad link building tactics, it’s time to discuss those that are right for you. How you choose to build links all depends on the resources you have at your disposal as well as the industry that you’re in. Industries that are more established and that have fierce competition will require more aggressive link building tactics, while newer industries that are still growing are full of opportunity to engage with like minds and industry insiders. With that in mind, here are a few tactics to think about when starting out on your link building endeavor.
Content-Based Link Building
Though we touched on link building tactics in the previous chapters, we feel that it’s an important enough topic to warrant its own chapter. The basic premise of link building is quality content, which can be an infographic, blog post, eBook, white paper, or even a video. You create these assets with link targets in mind so that, hopefully, they will connect with your content is such a way as to want to share it. Eventually, you should hope to reach a point at which you no longer have to ask for links. While this can take a long time to achieve, with commitment and perseverance, it will happen.
Guest blogging involves approaching other website owners to see if they would be willing to publish a piece that you write for their blog. While guest blogging is a great way to obtain links, Google has cracked down on bloggers who abuse this tactic by publishing low quality content jam packed with keywords and over-optimized anchor text.
Unfortunately, because guest blogging has become increasingly popular, the quality of posts has severely declined. In some instances, the posts are even automated. Google has noticed, and as a result, the head of Google’s webspam team, Matt Cutts, declared that we could “Stick a fork in it: Guest blogging is done,” which was a real bummer for people who were genuinely trying to build up a following.
With that in mind, some sites continue to accept guest blogs, which is something to take advantage of when you do find that site. However, just be sure that your content is always quality, and that it’s clear that your main goal is to educate (not earn links).
Ego bait is exactly what it sounds like: content that applauds the accomplishments of a certain person or organization in the hopes to appeal to their ego and entice them to share your content.
Some examples of ego bait include:
This site lists gardening blogs, with a short description of each one.
This posts lists the top 10 electronic music blogs based on a number of factors including Tweets and Facebook.
This site lists the most influential individuals in web design and includes pictures of them, as well as their websites and social media channels.
Despite its seeming transparency, ego bait works wonders. However, because your content features certain individuals, you can only target so many people or websites. In order to create ego bait content, your process will look a little something like this:
Indentify and research targets -> Write content -> Reach out to targets -> Follow up
Step 1: Identify and Research Targets
First, you need to identify individuals within your industry who a) are worth talking about and b) would be flattered that you want to write about them. Their website needs to be relevant to what you sell on your own site. For instance, if you sell party supplies on your website, sample blog titles might be:
- Top 10 Party Planning Blogs of 2017
- 15 Genius Ways to Spend Your 4th of July
- Party Planning Bloggers You MUST Follow on Instagram
These are all simple enough posts to write, but the point is, you can target at least 10 people at a time with them, and they provide the opportunity to flatter.
Once you’ve conceptualized an idea for your post, it’s time to start looking for whom you want to feature. Chose wisely, as the point is to write about them and then reach out to them, so you don’t want to go to a bunch of work to feature a blogger that has no interest in reciprocating with a link. When trying to identify people, keep the following things in mind:
- Make sure the blog is active – as in, they have posted very recently.
- Look for blogs that have a good amount of social followings; it won’t do you much good to receive a link from someone without very much influence.
- Make sure you can find the contact details of the blogger, that way, once the post is written, you can make them aware of it.
Additionally, make sure that the person, organization, or blog that you feature is worth talking about.
Step 2: Write the Content
Now that you have the concept, it’s time to start writing. When creating the content, try to include as much detail as possible about your subjects; this is not the time for name-dropping. You want to get these people’s attention so that they will share your post and link to it. If possible, include the following details:
- A picture of the blogger or a screenshot of their website
- A link to their website and/or social media profiles
- A brief summary about why you choose to include them on your list
Step 3: Reach Out
With the post written and published, there isn’t much more you can do except reach out to the featured bloggers to let them know that you featured them in an article. An example email would be:
I just wanted to give you a heads up that you’ve been featured in our list of the top party planning bloggers you must follow on Instagram [LINK TO ARTICLE].
I choose to include you because of the high quality of your posts, as well as the top-notch advice you give you to your readers. Your content provides true value to the party planning community, and you deserve recognition for it.
Feel free to take a look and make sure I’ve got all of your details correct. I’d really appreciate any feedback you have as well. If you also like to share it with your social media followers or on your blog somewhere, that would be amazing.
Thanks so much!
As always, keep the message short and simple. These people are busy, so you want to get your point across quickly yet effectively.
Step 4: Follow Up
Whether or not the blogger reciprocated with a link, always follow up. If they did feature your article on their own blog, or if they mentioned you on social media, email them back with a quick thank you. If they did not respond or link to your post, follow up with a quick reminder of your original email and that you would love their feedback on the post.
Broken Link Building
Websites and website pages come and go all the time, which is fine, except that when they go, they leave in their wake a bunch of broken links. Broken links can be found everywhere—even on valuable, high-quality pages. SEOs that target broken links are actually very successful in obtaining links, as no one wants broken links on their website.
Broken link building works like this:
Find broken links à Create valuable content to replace that link à Reach out to the webmaster or website owner to offer your link as an alternative to the broken one
Here’s an example:
You run a dog breeding company and want to build your links to your pages on specific breeds. A local pet store in your areas happens to have an older page of dog breeds, but many of the links to more information are broken. You reach out to the webmaster, inform him or her of the broken links, and offer your own pages as an alternative. The pet store’s webmaster replaces the broken links with your links, and is grateful for your keen eye.
You can do this over and over with any number of websites. You can also create pages specifically for those broken links if you do not have anything relevant. The great thing about this process is that a) webmasters don’t have the time to go through every single link to see if one’s broken, and b) most bloggers don’t think to go through websites in search of broken links to replace. Additionally, you are essentially doing the webmaster a service by identifying broken links and providing pages to replace them with, which makes the whole process virtually foolproof (so long as your content is quality content).
Link reclamation is very similar to broken link building, except this time you are finding your own links and reclaiming them. When you “reclaim” a link, you are doing so for one of three reasons: 1) your link is broken, 2) it fails to provide any SEO value, or 3) you want to redirect that link to a different page.
There are several different strategies for reclaiming links. Three of the most popular include:
404s occur when a link leads to a page that no longer exists. If this occurs with one of your links, you can either redirect it or fix the page on your end, or ask the webmaster to replace the broken link with a new one.
Non-Linking Brand Mentions
If you notice that your brand is mentioned in a blog or on a website but that there is no link with your name, ask the webmaster to do you a favor and link to your site. Some tools to find brand mentions you are unaware include mention.net, Google Alerts, and Fresh Web Explorer.
Many businesses, when they learn that one of their images has been used without attribution, file a copyright or DMCA takedown notice. While that is their choice, a better way to deal with the violation would be simply to ask the webmaster to give you attribution and have the image link to your site.
There are dozens of link building tactics available to you, and we’ve only named just a few to get you started. Once you start learning to build links and become successful at it, you will start to discover new and innovative ways to earn those links.
Measuring the Success of Your Link Building Campaign
It can be difficult to measure the success of your link building campaign, but with the right tools and knowledge, you should be able to judge the value of your efforts. Knowing these metrics can help you gauge whether or not link building is worth pursuing for your particular company and budget. Some metrics to look at include:
Domain strength refers to the value of an overall domain, instead of the value of individual pages. In terms of link building, domain strength is a good metric to use as you want to get links from strong websites. The stronger the domains that link to you, the stronger your own website will become, which is great for your rankings, as it indicates to Google that you deserve to rank well.
Page strength is also important to look at, as even if a domain isn’t all that strong, a particular post on that website could be. Older pages with a lot of links to it typically rank much better than new pages, so in order to gain any rankings due to page strength, you’ll have to be added to a preexisting page.
An example of how that would happen is: Say you own a bakery, and an influential food blogger has a popular post about the best cupcakeries in Manhattan. They recently discovered you and added you to their list.
Like with strong domains, if you receive a link from a strong page, your page will become stronger as well.
The Number of Links
This is one of the simplest ways to gauge the value of your link building efforts, as it’s easy to count how many links you have (if you’re aware of them). However, as you gain links, your competitors are probably gaining links as well, so calculate how many they’ve receive in the time that, say, you received 10.
Also, it again comes down to quality. Even if you do receive a good number of links in a given period of time, check to see where those links are coming from. Are they coming from quality sites, or small sites with no domain authority? One link from an authoritative site is much more valuable than a dozen links from a dozen unknown domains.
Linking Root Domains
When counting up your links, count the number of raw links that you have as well as the number of domains liking to you. For instance, if the influential blogger linked to your site five times, that counts as ONE linking root domain. Now, if the influential food blogger linked to you five times, and a food enthusiast linked to you twice, that would be two linking root domains.
It is important to know the distinction, as though it is great if one domain in particular loves your content and links to it regularly, your website signal becomes stronger the more linking root domains you get.
One way to think about the importance of linking root domains is in terms of voting. You can send in 500 ballots for the same candidate, but you only get one vote. The same goes on Google. A website can link to you several times, but they only count as one vote towards your overall popularity with Google.
Position of Your Link on the Page
Believe it or not, Google factors in the position of a link on a page to determine the value of your link. Why? Because the more prominent the position, the prouder the linking domain is to share your content; the lower you are on the page, the less likely they want their readers to click through to your page. Google assumes that if links are hidden away, they are not a great link for users.
Additionally, Google can use the position of links in aggregate. For instance, if they determine that 50 percent of links pointing to your website are appearing the footer of pages, they may assume that your links are of low quality, and that you are violating link building etiquette in order to obtain them.
Another example could be that Google finds that 70 percent of the links pointing towards your website are in sidebars. This indicates to them that you are purchasing your links, as many link brokers place links in the sidebar of pages instead of in the body of the content.
As a general rule of thumb, the best place to have your links placed is within the content. This indicates that the person sharing your link is happy to do so because the page it points to contains quality, helpful, and engaging content.
Link building is an art, one that can be very profitable if done right. With time, patience, and a commitment to building high quality links, you will find that the resources you dedicate to the process will pay for themselves in no time. Though the landscape of the World Wide Web is always changing, one thing will always be true: quality content leads to long-term success.