Link building is one of the fundamental tactics of any Search Engine Optimization campaign. Without employing an effective off-page optimisation strategy on-page, optimisation has an insufficient impact.
Link building has always been a foundational element of Google search results; there is a clear logic behind using links to a site as a means to measure authority. In the same way, the academic papers that gather more citations have higher prestige, websites that accumulate more links have higher Google rankings.
Back in the early 2000’s links were an even more substantial element of how we experienced browsing. Site’s like Yahoo and AOL essentially acted as hubs by providing links to navigate to content more quickly. Google’s primary innovation was approximating the relative popularity of web pages by evaluating the links pointing towards them.
Inbound links continue to play an integral rule in Google’s rankings algorithms. However, Google has continued to move steadily away from measuring the sheer number of inbound links in their rankings algorithms and towards estimating the quality of links. Therefore, accumulating these high-quality backlinks has become increasingly important. Google’s algorithms continue to grow evermore adapt at identifying the quality of links a website has acquired; it is imperative that you know what types of links are valuable before beginning any link building campaign. Otherwise, it is highly likely your link building efforts won’t increase your sites rankings. Or worse backfire, losing your website valuable traffic.
Effective link-building strategies have become increasingly difficult to execute, causing some agencies to proclaim that link building is no longer useful. This is an exaggerated claim, whereas some strategies that used to have high returns no longer work, specific approaches still see sites jump up the rankings.
In this article, we will cover the strategies we have used to dramatically increase some clients rankings, in the latter period of 2017 and the tactics that we will be devoting more focus towards in the year to come.
Our link building strategies aren’t limited to what works today but we to focus on the tactics that will continue to bring benefits into future.
Follow Links Vs. No Follow Links.
When regular hyperlinks point towards your webpage the page gets a small but meaningful SEO boost. You can think of inbound links as points the more links you have, the higher your points. The more points you accumulate, the more successful your site will be in search rankings. However, you only collect points for Follow links; no follow links although they also lead to your website, don’t provide the same SEO boost.
However, not all follow links have the same value, to assign a value to any given links Google invented a metric called PageRank. SEO professionals tend to use the term Link Juice, to describe the flow of value to new sites through hyperlinks. The more established and reputable a website, the more link juice. Getting a link from highly reputable established websites like The Guardian, Forbes, The BBC, The New York Times etc. is invaluable.
No follow links appear in the following format:
<a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
Before Google introduced “No follow attributes”. Internet forums, blog comments and websites were riddled with spam. In the early days of SEO people discovered they could artificially inflate search rankings by placing their own links (via comments) on as many sites as possible. Luckily these links no longer carry any value for SEO and this has significantly reduced the frequency of spam comments.
Hidden links are when web developers or black hat SEO’s try to stuff extra keywords into content by hiding text so that it isn’t visible to the end user. They may do this by adding white text on top of a white background, or using CSS so that the book is hidden off the visible page.
This tactic is just not worth it! If your site is found to have hidden links, it will be seen as an effort to manipulate Google’s Ranking Algorithms, and your website is likely to be found in violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. If discovered Google will punish the websites and the penalties can be harsh. Leading to massive loss of traffic and seeing your site plummet down the search rankings.
It is possible to recover from a Google Penalty, but it’s difficult and requires diligently identifying and removing all content that doesn’t meet Google’s guidelines. Digital Squad can help your businesses overcome a Google Penalty.
Content is King
“If you build it, they will come.”
If you produce content that is valuable, unique, informative, highly engaging and efficiently answers search queries. The higher the degree which any material fits these criteria, the higher the likelihood that that content is to be shared.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should publish content and be done with it. Promotion is an integral part of the process in the modern-day digital media landscape. Promote the article on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to gain extra exposure. If your article reaches someone with a large following who chooses to share the content, this can have a tremendous compounding effect.
Accumulating links from guest posts is a highly effective strategy to raise domain authority over time. As long as you make sure to keep the following factors in mind:
- The Guest post is written for a blog or website that is relevant to the website you’re trying to build rankings for.
- You have a focus on quality, all your articles should be well written well presented and informative
- The focus of the guest post shouldn’t be how fantastic the company is but should be on a topic relating to their goods or services that is likely to be of interest to users.
- You have to select Sites for your guest posts that are engaging for the end user and have high domain authority. Writing high quality unique content for a blog that doesn’t provide value to the user eliminates the point.
Contributing to Forums or blog discussions:
If you make regular insightful contributions to forums or blogs then it’s a perfectly legitimate practice to provide useful links to materials relevant to the discussion. However, you have to make sure that the anchor text represents the information you’re linking to. It’s goes against best practices to use consistently branded anchor texts.
Most blogs links are set to “No Follow” by default so you don’t gain any valuable link juice from forum or blog posts that immediately affect your site rankings. Despite this, it can still work to your advantage. If a Webmaster sees you are regularly making contributions and your contributions and links add value to the user, it’s entirely possible they will set your links to follow as a reward. This is entirely the webmaster’s discretion. On top of this, you will still get valuable referral traffic from non-follow links. Even if the links don’t help your rankings the active users visiting your site may still convert to valuable customers.
Influencer outreach is an extremely effective link building strategy and is an important component of many marketing campaign, you contact bloggers or websites with a large number of followers directly. It’s important you attempt to gain links from powerful influencers within your particular niche. For instance, if you owned a vegan café you could write a recipe to attract people to your business. You could then start compiling a list of vegan food blogs, health food blogs etc. Then contact the most powerful of these influencers with personalized messages, showing you’ve taken time to read their material and know what they are all about. This helps demonstrate that you’re genuine and not a spammer, but also you’re appreciative of their work. You should also show them why they should care about your particular contact, and the actions you would like them to take.
It’s important not to use mass-emailing software for this kind of outreach as these bloggers haven’t given you express permission to contact them. Mass emailing software while extremely valuable to certain elements of digital marketing doesn’t allow for the level of specificity this approach demands. It’s also advisable that you use your company email address, with a personal email signature to send outreach emails.
Turning mentions into links:
Turning brand mentions into links is one of the most effective link building strategies, particularly effective for more established companies. You can simply use a tool like SEMRush Brand monitoring tool to scour the internet for sites that mention your Brand, Product or services, then reach out to the webmaster suggesting they add a link to your website.
HARO (help a reporter out)
Subscribing to a HARO service is an extremely valuable tool for link building, particularly when you have certifiable expertise in a field. HARO services are set up in such a way as to be mutually beneficial to reporters/journalists and content producers. If a reporter has a question they want answered they post it to the service and an email is sent out to all those signed up to the service. You can answer questions within your areas of expertise and secure a link to your site for your trouble. Over a longer time frame this can be a way to garner links from highly reputable publications. If you happen to contribute to a well-written popular article, these links can be high traffic drivers.
You can also develop relationships with journalists or even publications if the information you provide a journalist is insightful enough, they may decide to approach you directly the next time they’re writing an article on a related topic.
Does whether a link is a new tab or same tab by default matter?
The settings of a hyperlink can have tangible effects on the links value for SEO. However, there is no consensus on the effects of whether a particular link is set to open in a new tab or open in the same tab.
Of course, the default link type doesn’t matter for those with a basic level of tech savvy and are using the keyboard cuts to determine how they want to open a given link, but it’s useful to bare in mind the UX of the least tech savvy members of any given audience.
Advantages of links opening in a new tab:
If a link setting is to automatically open in a new tab then a user won’t loose their place on the page they’re on and therefore they are more likely to continue reading the rest of the content. If the link provides additional information relating to the resource by opening it in a new tab then they can save it as a resource to read after they have finished with the previous article.
Advantages of the same tab:
Makes users browsing slightly cleaner, when you aren’t navigating between multiple tabs. It also enables the web designer to have a slightly greater level of influence over the path a user takes through their content.
Why is this important to backlinks!? When negotiating links from an external company your preference should be for links that automatically open in the same tab. Whereas when linking to external companies for which user engagement isn’t to your benefit you should more frequently create links to new tab, increasing the likelihood a user will continue to engage with your hosted content.
The time frame in which links are gained actually affects their value
When fresh content is posted to your site, this is the most important time to try to accumulate backlinks for this content. Research by SEO Guru Neil Patel suggested that links accumulated within the first 1.8 months of the content’s conception have by far the largest effects on the contents rankings position. While links gained after this period continue to affect the pages ranking the effects are no longer as dramatic.
Identifying broken links
Broken links are extremely detrimental to SEO efforts; it’s especially valuable to fix broken links from high-quality pages. It’s important to note that broken links don’t have to be only links that are broken to your own website. You can use out reach marketing to turn broken links to competitor’s pages to your advantage.
Contacting a Webmaster with a personalized email that identifies a broken link on their site and offers them high quality updated content, as an alternative fix is a fantastic way to generate extremely valuable backlinks.
Providing your content is well done, this is a highly effective way to get backlinks from quality websites. This is because you’re not only begging for a link but you’re actively adding value to their website. Of course people will be far more likely to help you out once you’ve already helped them.
Directory links are some of the most effortless backlinks to accumulate you merely register your website, enter details about your product and services and viola! However, many directories are judged as spam links by Google’s algorithms. The best Directories that you should exclusively focus on are directories that have relevance to your particular industry. Or Directories that provide sufficient additional information to provide value to the user.
Reciprocal linking is where you contact a high domain site owner directly to ask them for a link from their site in exchange for a link to your site.
There are right and a wrong way to engage in reciprocal linking. Excessive linking between two sites is ineffective and likely to incur a punishment. It’s essential that the links are natural and link to relevant content.
Once your site develops a certain amount of domain authority, other agencies or companies with similar scope will often reach out to you. You should always evaluate the value of their website before agreeing to exchange links.
Any link to your site on theirs or any link you put on your site on their website should always be to provide a link to content that is valuable to the user. It should also have anchor text that is descriptive of where the link is going. This way the user won’t be surprised by the content they’re landing on. The best strategy provides useful information for the users of both websites.
Moz, “Guide to using unlinked brand mentions for link acquisition”, https://moz.com/ugc/guide-to-using-unlinked-brand-mentions-for-link-acquisition-20981
Online Marketing, “Guide to Link Building”, https://online.marketing/guide/linkbuilding/
Wordstream, “follow vs no follow links”,