As many of you know, link building has changed a lot due to the recent Penguin Updates. Google Penguin is an algorithm update that is aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of website’s rankings due to a large number of low authoritative, spammy links. This type of algorithm update has only gotten smarter throughout the past couple of years, and you must know how to link build efficiently and as white hat as possible. Throughout this post, I will give you some insight on which link building strategies to avoid and which you can gravitate towards when done ethically.
How Important Are Links for Ranking?
According to a study done by Search Metrics, the fourth highest ranking factor is the number of backlinks in a website’s backlink profile, but to that end, it is important that these backlinks are high authoritative. For example, obtaining one high authoritative site as a backlink, such as The Huffington Post, is much more efficient to your site’s ranking, than having 50 low authoritative directory websites.
Link Building Strategies to Ditch
According to Google Webmaster Tools Quality Guidelines, “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”
These link schemes will negatively affect a site’s rankings and can potentially cause a penalty. Some link schemes include:
- Buying or selling links that will add to your backlink profile. These include exchanging money for posts that contain links, exchanging services for links, or sending someone a free product if they link to your website.
- Too many link exchanges. This is when you contact a webmaster and say, “I will link to your site, if you link to mine.”
- Using automated services to build links for you.
Advertorials or Large Scale Guest Blogging
Advertorials are sponsored article contact; you paid to get the link there. This is a link scheme that is used all too often and since you are paying for it, you could be penalized.
In addition to advertorials, it is important that you do not do too many guest posts. Large scale guest posting can get your website penalized. Guest posting on a small scale will not get you penalized as long as you follow Google’s quality guidelines.
Press Release with Highly Optimized Anchor Text
Press release are not a bad way to acquire links, if you have something newsworthy to write about, but a lot of times, companies are creating links to their websites that are using keyword heavy anchor text. If you are going to use this strategy with newsworthy content, it is important to use a mixture of the brand name and URL as the anchor text. Do not be afraid of press releases. If you execute correctly it can be one of your most valuable links. Just make sure you are writing for the human and not the search engine.
Link Building Strategies to Keep
Leveraging Existing Relationships
The best and easiest way to build links is to take advantage of the relationships you have. For example, if you have a list of partners and believe that they would be willing to link to your website, then that is a great opportunity and you should pursue. The following are specific relationships you can leverage:
- Community Organizations
- Tradeshows and Conferences
- Brand Mentions
As an example, we are currently leveraging a partnership with AgencyList.org, which is a Denver Digital Marketing Company, to build links. In return to linking to them naturally, they have offered to link to us in a strategic manner as well.
I do want to mention that it is important that you be straight with them and make sure you let them know what is in it for them. If they know this they are more likely to help you out.
Small Scale Guest Blogging
Guest Blogging, despite what others may think, is still a legitimate form of link building. It is important that you do not focus all of you link building efforts on this type of link building. Additionally, it is very important that you are creating quality content and not just pumping out posts that have been done before. If you want to do guest blogging right, follow the guidelines below:
- The site must have high authority. One way to check this is to look into the website’s backlink profile to make sure they have ethical standards and they are not at risk for a penalty.
- Who is their audience? Make sure they are relevant to your industry and that you will be reaching your client’s.
- Is it a reputable source?
- Make sure they have a followership to see their popularity.
- Use a balance of anchor text. The anchor text should be mostly long-tail, the brand name, or the URL.
Again, I want to emphasize that you should do this on a small scale and do not focus all of your time on this tactic. I would suggest writing about 2 good guest articles and moving on to something else. You can always come back to this tactic, just make sure your change it up every once and a while.
Creating Linkable Content
Another way to link build is just to create quality, linkable content that provides relevant information to your consumers. This could be in the form of a great blog post, an infographic, any type graphic, interactive content, surveys, or definitive guides. Once these great assets are created, make sure you make them available on your website. Additionally, post the content on social and send to any relevant companies or consumers that would benefit from this type of content. The hope is that they will be so enthralled that they will want to share and give you credit for your great content.
When building backlinks to your website, make sure you are not executing any strategies that are not white hat. Additionally, when you are link building make sure you are doing it more than one way. So, when creating linkable content, switch it up and contact some existing relationships. Building links can be a great way to get your website to rank higher, but watch how you are doing it or you could get penalized.