Attracting inbound links to a website has been a concern for marketers and is critical for increasing the overall effectiveness of an SEO Campaign. With the increasing importance of generating quality backlinks it's vital for us to keep in mind best practices and to use the most effective strategies.
The art of link building has changed over time, just a couple of years ago link exchanges were given greater importance than one-way links. I've recently performed a couple of link exchanges and their value has diminished tremendously, while creative one-way link building has now been given more weight.
Quality vs. Quantity
Another factor I've noticed with marketers is that they're opting for a higher quantity of links (which involve content farms and bulk submissions) vs. quality links. Is this right tactic for link building?
Listen to what Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s Web Spam team) has to say about bad quality sites and content farms:
”Google [has] launched an algorithmic change that will tend to rank scraper sites or sites with less original content lower. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content.”
With Google improving search quality through frequent algorithm updates, it's strongly advised to stay away from obtaining high quantities of backlinks and focus more on relevant niche and authoritative link building. Linking to banned content farms can sink all of your SEO efforts and even penalize your website.
A website with well-placed links can help you generate tremendous traffic and can help you beat your competition (in terms of keywords and referrals).
Here are few factors to consider while choosing a backlink strategy for your website:
- Anchor Text – Do you have a variety anchor text variations?
- Relevancy – Are the sites which you are planning to link to relevant to the business and content?
- Social Presence – Does your business have enough social presence compared to your competitors?
- Content Quality – Do you have the quality content needed to attract links and are all the 'on site' factors for the website in place?
- Tracking and Measurement – What is the method of measurement for your link building efforts? E.g. Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools
- Neighbourhood Check – Are the websites you are linking to away from a 'bad neighbourhood?'
- Local Presence – Does the website/business have enough local presence in the form of local listings, Yellow pages and Google Places?
- Tools – What are the tools that you are using for tracking/maintaining the links? E.g. Excel sheet, DropBox (for backing up documentation), Backlinkwatch and Link Diagnosis (for tracking the backlink status) Search Status (for tracking Nofollow links and Indexing, etc.)
Building the Platform – Initiation Stage
Getting links from credible and authoritative sites can get set a strong platform for us to get the initial backlink push and are safe bet for gaining quality links. Links from sites like a local chamber of commerce, the Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, trade associations, Maps, Google Places and relevant communities are the most credible sources for links and are highly respected by search engines.
Building a strong social presence on sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter during the initial stages can also be very beneficial for promoting the links and published articles/blogs. It's not necessary for you to create profiles in all the social networking sites; try gotoweb20 tool to make sure you're choosing the right social media platform(s).
Link placement helps us to increase the number of backlinks by submitting to relevant websites. A few examples for link placements are mentioned below:
- Directories and Niche Directories
- Press Release Sites
- Article and Blogs
- Social Bookmarking Sites
- Classified and local classified Sites
- Mini sites, etc.
By directory and niche directory submissions I don’t mean to encourage submission to a huge number of directories; make sure that you submit your site to relevant directories in the correct format as part of a continual effort.
Along with 'old school' techniques try to get more creative with your link building efforts and look for more opportunities as this will definitely help you build the overall popularity of your site. The links obtained using these tactics can help us to improve the backlink count as well create an initial traffic push.
Link utility techniques include commentluv and link baiting which can provide quick traffic and conversions. A commentluv technique includes blog commenting, article commenting, guest posting, etc.; whereby, link baiting techniques include blog and article creation (both these techniques are normally recurring or progressive in nature). In the past couple of years Yahoo Q&A and RSS submissions have also been included in this stage of backlink building.
“I have been submitting to thousands of sites and I'm still ranked way below my competitor, why?”
This is a frequent question asked by various webmasters. Link building is much more than just building bulk of backlinks directed towards your website. It is a mix of various factors and each link creates value for your business webpages. Each piece of anchor text gets you that sought after keyword fuel that allows you to rank. Understanding the art of link building is not just crucial for marketers, but also for the website owner as it plays a major role in the overall effectiveness of your SEO strategy.
One last tip that I can share is to keep tabs on your nofollow and dofollow links. Try to maintain the dofollow links for a better 'off page' performance and to maintain the link value. This article is meant to shed some light on the basics of link building and I hope that it will help you to better plan your 'off site' strategy. Keep looking out more advanced link building strategies and techniques in posts to come. Cheers!!