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Thursday, 19 November 2015

1 to 20 Link Building Strategies

Link Building Strategies

Links matter. There's no debate links are a big signal of quality to search engines, so you need to know your ABCs.

Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to further enhance your link profile, links remain a critical method of marketing. However, if you've been paying attention, you can see that link building is a constantly evolving practice.

Certain tactics are overused then abused then penalized, with link builders running around trying to undo damage from techniques that worked well but maybe weren't 100 percent safe ideas.

What follows is a list and discussion of 20 link building tactics, some of which worked just as well 10 years ago as they do today.

Start With the Basics

Ah, the basics...these are the tactics that can form the foundations of any link building campaign, no matter what your niche or budget. The basics don't tend to change and they're critical to understand so that you can move on to more advanced and creative techniques.

1. Email a webmaster, asking for a link to your site. Personalizing your emails is critical here (think about how many emails you get every day) so make sure you're actually emailing webmasters who have sites that are relevant to yours, and, even more importantly, make sure that your site is actually link-worthy. We're all busy people and no one wants to waste time so if it's not a good place for a link to you, don't waste anyone's time.

2. Use the phone. Picking up the phone to do the same thing as listed above is also acceptable for those of us who aren't averse to having to speak to another human being for work matters.

3. Find great sources for links by simply searching the web for your desired target keywords. Whereas even a year ago I would have said that sites appearing high in the SERPs would be good sites to contact, due to the truly amazing amount of spam and hacked sites that appear high up for certain search terms, I'd say you need to visit the sites with a very careful eye. Whereas we used to think that getting a link from any source was a good idea, after Google started notifying webmasters that they had bad links which should be removed, I'd say to be very, very critical.

4. Use social media to find great sources for links. There are loads of tools that can help with this (my favorite is Icerocket) but simply going to Twitter and searching for a keyword in the same way that you search through an engine's results can show you some fantastic link opportunities.

5. Make the link negotiation personal. Even if you've emailed to ask for a link, don't be opposed to speaking to this benevolent webmaster by phone, or in person if that works out. Sometimes this personal connection can be what secures your link.

6. Know what makes a site a good linking partner. If you've been building links for a long time, you can probably easily glance at a site and, in under a minute, determine whether it would be a beneficial linking partner. However, for the rest of the world, it's not so easy. Know what makes me like a site more than anything else? Social love. If I see a blog post that is relevant to my topic, has ongoing relevant comments, a decent amount of tweets/likes/shares, that's a good site to me because I'm thinking about traffic.

7. Think about traffic! Think about sites that can send you relevant traffic, not just sites that might improve your rankings. If you can see yourself going to that site, seeing your link, clicking on it, and thinking "nice, this is just what I wanted!" then yes, that's a good traffic-generating site most likely.

8. Stop thinking about rankings and Google's Toolbar PageRank. Rankings definitely matter but considering the amount of places that can send you traffic (like social media sites, sites that link to you, sites where you guest post, etc.) it's silly to rely on rankings in one engine. Stop thinking that a link from a site with a PR of 0 won't help you, and that a link from a site with a PR of 5 definitely will.

9. Check to see what your competitors are doing. While this should never be a definitive way to define your own link plan, it's valuable to see what works for others in your niche. Just don't think that you can mimic a competitor's link profile and do as well as they have. It's definitely not that simple.

10. Make sure your site isn't hurting you. Many times we think that with the right links, our sites will soar in the rankings, even though they are usability nightmares with nothing real to offer anyone that can't be found elsewhere.

11. Check out the sites that link to you and find the sites they link to. Sounds convoluted, but it's a great way to figure out other good sites to contact.

12. If you get a link from a fantastic site that is exactly the type of site you want to link to you, after congratulating yourself on this achievement, do some digging and find out who else links to that site. Those may also be good sites to contact for links.

13. Search for sites that should link to you but don't. If you find a blog post entitled "Top 100 companies that sell green widgets" and you sell green widgets but aren't listed, contact the webmaster and point this out. Nicely, of course.

14. Don't automate if you can help it. There are times when automation can be a lifesaver but when it comes to reviewing a site and making a personal connection that leads to a link, I'd make the decision to do it all manually.

15. If you receive a negative response, regard this as very important, as these refusals could be telling you something. Perhaps your site isn't as link-worthy as you thought it was. If a webmaster takes the time to email you back and say no thanks, ask him or her why. Maybe you'll uncover an error that is glaring to everyone but yourself. Regard this as a fantastic usability opportunity. Also, if a webmaster points out something fixable and you fix it, maybe you'll get that link in the end.

16. If you move your site to a new URL, surely you'll 301 it but for the maximum linky benefit, do yourself a favor and contact the sites (especially the really good ones) that link to you to point out your new URL.

17. Sponsor something. Sponsor a charity, a contest, an afterschool club at your kid's school, anything.

18. Learn to love the nofollowed link. There's more to life than link juice. Nofollows can be amazing for traffic so if someone says yes, I'll link to you but I have to nofollow it, say thanks.

19. See who links to YouTube videos that relate to your industry and ask them for a link.

20. In that same line of thought, see who links to infographics in your niche. Ask them for a link.


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