We have been covering the shift in web content and SEO practices
recently, and now we get to the practice of link building.
Links are not the beginning or the end of Search Engine Optimisation, but
they do hold a large portion of weight in the algorithms employed by
Google/Bing to rank websites on their Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).
It is worth spending some time to understand link building, to
incorporate link building into your content creation processes, so that
you can reap the rewards from the effort in the future.
A Short History of Link Building
In their simplest form, links are like map locations for search engines
to navigate between on their endless quest for information. Another way
to look at them, is to consider a link as a vote from one website for
another. Links help search engines calculate the popularity of websites
and specific pages based on the number of other websites that carry links
pointing to them.
Rand Fishkin of Moz, in 2009, summarised the history of link
building and described it as follows: Between 2000 and 2002, direct
link buys, email requests for links and link exchanges were popular. In
2003 and 2004, link networks, blog commenting and paid text links became
popular. 2005 saw the advent of social media links, linkbait and quizbait
and in 2008-09 came content licensing and editorial content for links.
After 2009, Google started introducing software like Hummingbird, Penguin
and Panda which fished out websites that were aimed at fooling search
engines. These complicated software algorithms were created to penalise
such websites and to stop them from appearing at the top of the Search
Engine Results Pages (SERP).
The Better Way to Link Build
Nowadays, the best practice for link building is to consider the bigger
picture, and focus on building your link profile. QuickSprout has a great
article - What is a "Good Link Profile" and How Do You Get One
- that is worth reading if you have not heard of the term before.
Step One: Focus on Content
The first step is to produce quality content which is relevant,
meaningful, and will gain popularity on the Internet in its own merit.
Unless you create content which readers would want to share, you aren't
going to create reason for other websites to link to your website.
As mentioned earlier, links are like votes. So if a website posts a link
to your content, it is like the owner of the website voted for you. If a
website which is considered an 'authority' links to your content, the
value of the 'vote' increases. All of this affects where your website
shows up on a Search Engine Results Page.
There are several ways in which you can structure content on your website
to make it more appealing. Articles which list the '10 best' or '10
worst' of a topic are very popular with readers. Infographics or white
papers providing insight into specific areas of your industry are also
very popular and make the content easier to share as well.
Step Two: Only Aim for Natural Links
According to Google, their algorithms are configured to use only natural
links for indexing and ranking websites. Search engine algorithms are
able to distinguish between genuine links to your site posted by people
who think the information would be helpful to others, and links which are
posted specifically to "boost votes". The latter are referred to as
spammy backlinks, which hurt your link profile.
Step Three: Promote, Promote, Promote
The content that you have created needs to be promoted aggressively by
you. Do not wait for people to notice your content first and then start
sharing. Instead, reach out to authority websites and "influencers" in your
industry and share your content with them. If they find it useful and
share it with their followers, your reach will increase exponentially.
Use paid options offered by social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to
promote posts. You can also buy ad space in online journals using content
syndication networks like Taboola and Zemanta to promote your content.
Step Four: Diversify your Back Links
Mix things up by requesting backlinks in different formats and on
different platforms. Aim for some backlinks to be through social media,
and some to be contained within content.
Another popular way to diversify link building is through guest blogging.
However, today, guest blogging has become vastly more complicated than
before. To establish your own set of followers, it is imperative that you
contribute high quality content regularly. You must also promote the
content you contribute and respond to queries / feedback.
Step Five: Backlink Management
Keep a constant watch out for any websites which feature your name or
that of your brand. Check these websites regularly and request backlinks
to your website if you have been mentioned, but not linked to. Another
popular way of tracking mentions is through Google Alerts. You can enroll
for competitions and also submit reviews of products to websites in
return for a backlink.
We have provided a very basic introduction into the practice of link
building for today's content writers and provide a list of articles that
should provide you with some more in-depth information. If you would like
to discuss how you can improve your link building strategy or your
overall content strategy, feel free to Get in Touch.
Want to discuss this some more? If you would like to
know more about content marketing or about anything in this article
please let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.