Even if you are pretty unfamiliar with the concepts of SEO, you probably know that link-building is a part of the process.
Since the formative days of search engine optimization, building links has (and still is) a crucial part of nearly every approach. That being said, however, does not mean that all links carry the same value (or have the same impact on your site’s rankings), or that the techniques for obtaining these links have remained the same.
The Evolution of Link Building
The process of link-building has evolved right from the beginning, and in ways that can be beneficial.
The strategy of building links began in the late ‘90’s, (coincidentally?) with the launch of Google. In the pioneering days of search engine optimization, building links was the gold standard, and generally accepted as the most crucial approach to building a website’s rankings.
In actual practice, however, there were issues. Since there had not yet been any development of the algorithms and regulations in use today, many link-builders adopted shady, unethical, or unscrupulous techniques.
During the formative years of SEO, it was the quantity, not quality of links that counted. “Link building” consisted purchasing links, online directory entries, spam comments on blogs or forums, automated link-bait, and deliberately building bad or broken links. At the time, these practice were accepted, and even “normal” because search engines had no consequences for them.
My, how things have changed.
As the process, and the search engines evolved, Google has developed more advanced algorithms to provide web users with a superior search-engine experience. Included in these updates are harsh penalties for webmasters and SEO providers that utilize the archaic, unethical methods for link building.
The two biggest algorithm changes that Google released to ward off the abuse of link building included the Panda and Penguin updates, which came out in 2011 and 2012, respectively (and have been updated regularly ever since). One of these algorithms cracked down on websites with poor quality content and the other penalized websites with poor standards of practice with link building.
How NOT to Build Links
Let’s begin by determining link building methods that can land you in hot water- either with other websites or with Google.
If your business utilizes any of these tactics, it is time to reevaluate your approach- before Google makes you reevaluate.
SPAM Commenting on Blogs or Forums
In the past, commenting on blogs and forums for the sole purpose of building links was commonplace. In practice, however, most blogs and forums have little to no value for links. So, building links with this technique will do nothing to enhance your website’s ranking.
We are certainly not saying that you should avoid commenting on blogs or forums. You just need to do it with the right motivation, which is to provide valuable, informative content to people who are your prospective client base.
What was once the iconic go-to for SEO providers is now a website’s nightmare. Directories don’t provide the link value that was previously thought. Companies that constantly add links to directories are also more likely to be seen as spamming, which raises automatic red flags with the search engines.
Very few relevant directories exist. Even if you actually come across one, exercise caution with its use.
Low-Quality Guest Blogging and Article Submissions
Composing poor-quality content as quickly as possible and sending it out in bulk to as many article submission sites as possible has been frowned upon for years now.
Google’s updates have targeted and decreased the value of this kind of content, because it has no value to search engine users. No matter what format it is in, low-quality content will never appear high in rankings.
SEOs have tried many ways to sneak in links. One of the more creative ways was to embed links into an infographic. When people would copy the infographic because they liked it, they were also copying links. Widgets were also used this way. Its plain and simple, not a good a idea, and certainly won’t provide the results you need.
The biggest and most obvious “no-no” is paying for links. You should never buy a link.
This is an old “black hat” tactics that was common in the past, but now throw up immediate red flags, and can actually harm your websites rankings. Just don’t do it.
Link Building Tactics That Don’t Suck
Building links is still an effective tactic for building good SEO and improving search engine rankings. These effective link building tactics can help improve your brand’s online presence, get more website visitors, and start increasing sales, in stark contrast to to the unethical link building efforts that could get you into trouble.
This isn’t really about link “building” so much as it is link “earning.” These links should come out of a natural desire to serve and help customers and web users by providing useful, valuable information and to initiate and facilitate sincere, authentic relationships with people online.
Good link earning begins with quality content that provides value to your potential customers. While content that is poorly written and was only intended to get links will get a website penalized, great content that people want to read will naturally encourage those people to link to it.
This isn’t just a one-time thing, though. You also need to be consistent in producing quality content. Frequent, fresh content will keep people interested and will add to your brand’s online authority.
Providing useful, relevant information to your potential clients should be the motivation behind your content–not gaining links.
Write Quality Guest Blogs for Posting on Relevant Sites
Write a good, high-quality blog post and reach out to other blogs in your company’s industry, asking to have your blog post published on their blog. When asking, it is important that you mention the value that your blog post will bring.
This also needs to be more than an attempt to get a link from their site. This should be seen as a relationship. As you work with these potential guest post sites, you should be able to offer lots of value. They should want to publish more of your work in the future.
Competitive Link Building
If you don’t know where to submit a guest blog post or what forums would be good to participate on, research where your competitors are going to get links and follow suit.
Interact With and Engage in a Community
Besides writing quality content, there are other avenues by which you can provide valuable information.
The internet is full of social media hubs, forums, blogs and online communities dedicated to any and every industry. Find those online hubs specific to your industry and contribute to them, voicing your expertise.
Remember that the reason that you’re engaging in these online platforms to provide valuable information, not build links.
Encourage Interactions and Sharing
Write good content that people not only want to read, but that they will comment on and share via social media.
Share your content on your company’s social media channels and other online properties. Get creative and repurpose your content into different formats like videos, slide presentations, etc.
Link building is still an important part of your company’s SEO strategy. Instead of trying to get as many links as possible, proper link building now focuses on relationship building and by providing valuable information.
Broken Link (Re)Building
An effective link building strategy that simply makes a lot of sense is fixing broken links on your site and on sites that you’d like a link from.
Your first step is to look for broken links on pages that interest you. After finding the links that go to pages that no longer exist, you reach out to the website owner and point out the link and suggest a new page that could provide value to their audience.
If your business has not begun any link building, or has been stuck in the link building strategies of a bygone era, you’re missing out on a lot of potential opportunities. The best link building strategies take more time and effort and are focused on building relationships and providing valuable information, not gathering the most links possible.
Now, more than ever, you have to think in terms of quality instead of quantity.