Search marketing experts have been crying the demise of link building as inefficient in optimizing your website's direct exposure for a couple of years now. They're dead wrong!
While backlinks are one of many different methods to indicate search engines to direct individuals to your website, they remain one of the most crucial ranking components in the SEO market.
Why? Because backlinks are a way of determining your authority, trust and social influence! They are one of the most reliable methods of telling search engines that you have pertinent material to share that people are actively searching for.
If you have the desire to boost your search engine ranking, optimize direct exposure, and drive hot leads into your sales funnel, you absolutely should develop a rock-solid backlink campaign for your site.
These days, a lot of individuals describe this sort of structure as “content marketing.”
In fact, according to a poll on DMOZ, over a 3rd of respondents (36%) refer to it in this way. But whatever you call it, it's still an extremely important element of search engine optimization that shouldn't be neglected.
In this post, I'm going to look at the absolute best methods to build efficient links in 2018 and beyond, in addition to the very best practices for finding and obtaining those links.
I'll also reveal to you ways to establish proper link structures and what to avoid so that you are developing high-powered linking campaigns that are created to last for the long-haul.
After all, who wants to need to rebuild every time there's a change? If you follow the methods, you won't have any need to.
Recent SEO Changes
Before to we look at what currently works as far as link structure, we ought to discuss how things used to work, and how they have actually changed over the last few years.
A couple of years ago, just about any link was a great link. Just about.
Clearly, links from very low quality sites, or recognized “spam” websites, were downgraded, and enough of them might even get you punished or banned, but having thousands of low-to-moderate-quality links could push you to the top of the online search engine for all but the toughest keywords.
You used to be able to write a fast 300-word article and submit it to thousands of post directories and end up with an entire bunch of links that would boost your SEO substantially.
You could also buy links from online markets, or send your website to thousands of link drops with automated software that did all the work for you. However those days are long gone.
Nowadays, it's all about quality, not quantity.
One well-placed, high-quality link is more effective than a dozen poor quality links.
And the best news is that it only takes a few short days to build sustainable backlink campaigns that signal search engines that you have quality, share-worthy content that visitors are looking for.
While it could take a bit longer than those outdated approaches, the benefit will be worth its weight in gold.
The first thing you need to do to get quality backlinks is to make sure your site is “linkable.” This means getting your content out there so people can discover it, and making certain your content is relevant, targeted, and share-worthy.
You've most likely seen your share of content round-ups, right? Those articles entitled with headlines like, “Leading 10 Must-Read SEO Articles.”
The reason they're so popular is that they are an easy way for bloggers and site owners to develop content for their website without writing a lot themselves.
Instead of having to craft an initial short article, and spending hours doing so, they simply develop a post that shares the leading resources, with outbound links to appropriate websites. Needless to say, since these posts are so popular, they are also fantastic sources of quality backlinks!
You need to make your content as attractive as possible to the individuals who are producing those types of short articles. You can do this by producing “link bait,” which are high quality posts that other individuals will want to connect to because they extend coverage of a subject, provide more valuable and helpful information so readers expand their knowledge.
According to Moz, about 75% of material discovered on the internet has no incoming links whatsoever. This is partially due to the sheer volume of material, naturally. However it's also due in part to the absence of quality content online.
Let's say that you're running a blog about online marketing (something I'm pretty familiar with). You'll want to produce a couple of articles that are much longer and much more in-depth than the rest of your content. These articles, called “pillar content,” will form the foundation of your site, and they'll be the posts that are most likely to get backlinks.
However, you're also going to need to make sure your content is easy to discover for those who want to connect to it. One of the very best methods to do this is to make sure your content is available through social media.
Pinterest is among the first stops for a lot of people who are creating reliable content round-up articles. It's easy to discover content on Pinterest because of the visual format and general structure of the platform, and with its millions of users, it's easy to maximize direct exposure within your market.
If you'd like people to find you quickly on Pinterest, be sure you create high quality images that are taller than they are wide, functional text that lets people know what your article is about, and consists of a couple of primary keywords in your description.
Make sure to share your material on other social networks, too, and leverage keywords and hash tags to get discovered. Websites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can also assist your material in getting found.
As for exactly what you should share, start by creating content that you understand your audience is actively searching for. If you develop content around what your target audience finds most important it will be easy to reach out to new visitor's while optimizing direct exposure within your market.
Produce complimentary (or auxiliary) material that supports your primary “pillar” articles. This might consist of a series of blog posts, podcasts, video material or even tweetable posts that are simple to share.
Best Practices for Backlinks
Just getting links from social media communities isn't really enough. There are other things at play that can have a big effect on the overall effectiveness of your links. Let's have a look at a few of the most important items that you'll want to pay close attention to.
Maybe the greatest factor in determining the quality of the links you get is the general authority of that site. I'm not talking about how respected the site is, but, rather, the search engine authority of the domain and the page the link will be hosted on.
It's not worth the effort it'll require to get links from websites with low authority so you'll want to focus on premium content websites and blogs that have an existing readership and are relevant to your market or niche.
You can discover more relating to domain authority, consisting of how to check it and monitor it using this Moz article.
While no-follow links can help you get direct traffic, you should not spend excessive time pursuing them. They won't really help at all when it comes to SEO. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean they aren't of some value.
If a no-follow link sends out targeted referral traffic to your site, obviously that's a good thing! In addition, no-follow links are normally part of a natural backlink profile. So while your focus shouldn't weigh heavily on them, no-follow links from pertinent, authority sources will still add value to your backlink profile.
Location of Links
The placement of the link you're trying to obtain is also essential. Preferably, it needs to be on a page that has good page authority, as well as near the top of the page. A link at the bottom of the page, in a bio box, or in the sidebar isn't going to be as efficient as a link within the content itself or near the top of the page.
Naturally, if all you can get is a bio box link or a buried link, it's still better than nothing. But if at all possible, aim to get a link in the content near the top.
Link To Content Ratio
Link-to-content ratio is also an important factor to consider. The authority of that backlink will be significantly lowered if your link is one of lots on a page.
If your link is the only one on the page, however, you will get a substantial chunk of the page's authority passed to your page. So, if you have a choice, try to get a link on a page where yours will be the only outgoing link, or at minimum one of just a few.
STOP! Don't Do It!
Buying backlinks was one of the most common (and effective) black hat SEO strategies from years ago, but today, they aren't worth the trouble. If Google detects that you have purchased backlinks your website will be penalized. It's not worth it.
That being said, there are legitimate ways of purchasing links through indirect methods, such as with paid product reviews, paying to guest blog on authority websites (or offering to guest blog in exchange for a link), or by purchasing sponsorship spots on authority domains.
All of these methods are reputable ways of establishing a prominent backlink on an established website without risking your website being hit with a penalty that lowers its ranking score.
If you plan to purchase links, keep in mind that you should always build more organic links than paid ones. You should also build links slowly while measuring overall effectiveness. Take your time and take deliberate steps to generate high-value links that will increase your authority and ranking score.
Rule of thumb is to generate no more than 15-20 links per month.
And finally, make sure to conduct due diligence on any website offering paid links (in any form, whether it be as a sponsor or a paid review). Carefully read their terms and conditions, check their website authority as well as any reviews or feedback from others who have used their service. And be careful! Consider the risks involved as Google considers any paid exchange in order to generate links to be a violation of their guidelines.
While exchanging links carries no risk of being penalized, there isn't a lot of value in doing it for SEO purposes. The two links will basically cancel each other out unless one link has a much higher authority than the other.
In that case, the site with more authority will probably pass a small amount on to the one with less authority, and the one with smaller authority will pass next to none onto the site with more.
The only exception to this rule might be if a site with a lot more authority than yours offers to exchange links with you. This isn't likely to happen, but in the event that it does, it might be worth it to exchange links, because you will receive some authority, even if you pass a small amount back to the other site.
Now that we've talked about some of the best practices regarding link building, let's talk about some of the ways you can obtain those highly coveted links.
Above and beyond anything else, the best way to build quality links is to create excellent content that people are excited about sharing. You could write this content for your own website, or offer to guest blog on an established website in exchange for a link.
Just don't start writing content for every site that asks you to. You want to be selective about who you give your best content to, even if you are fully credited. Focus on writing content for sites that have a higher domain authority than your own, and who promise to leave your link intact and not place the no-follow tag on it.
Always thoroughly research websites that you are considering before you agree to guest blog. Check their ranking score, and read through some of the content on their website to gauge relevancy as well as overall quality.
While most social media links are no-follow, you can still benefit from posting your content in two specific ways.
1. Increase Your Social Signals. Social signals let the search engines know your content is in-demand, relevant and share-worthy. The more shares it gets, the stronger those social signals affect your SEO.
2. Increased Discoverability. The more your content gets shared, the more likely it is to be seen by people who could link to it.
To begin, use social listening tools to locate your target audience. These resources will help you quickly find your audience while also helping you keep a pulse on your demographic. Better yet, you will easily be able to receive alerts whenever you, or your brand, are mentioned.
HootSuite is one of the most popular social listening tools, but you can find a full list of top apps and products here.
Make sure you're posting your content on social media frequently, and be sure you post it on as many different channels as you can. One of the easiest ways to ensure consistent posting is to download a tool like HootSuite and schedule your tweets so that they are automatically published at certain times of the day.
You also want to pay close attention to the level of engagement your content is receiving (in the form of likes, shares and mentions). This will be a clear indicator as to what content is most relevant and of interest to your target audience. Then, create more content in that same vein!
Believe it or not, a mention of your website without a link can still add value to your SEO strategy by increasing your social signals. As long as your site, or brand name is somewhat unique, a simple mention on an authority site can boost your rank authority.
It may sound too good to be true, but it really does work. And the more often other sites mention yours, the greater the impact will be.
While getting buried on resource pages or link lists isn't going to be as effective as a link within the content of an exceptionally well-written article, it can still have a benefit if the site has enough domain authority.
So, if you come across a site that offers links on such a page, you don't necessarily have to pass it up. Just don't depend on it for your main source of links, because these pages won't pass on much authority.
A surprising source of links that a lot of people don't think about is the posting of infographics and similar content. Infographics tend to get shared and pinned on Pinterest quite regularly, and they are often shared via website's and blogs as well, along with a link to the original source of the graphic. (You!)
If you can't create infographics yourself, you can hire someone to do it affordably on freelance marketplaces like Upwork, or you can just purchase an infographic template from a site like Envato, and edit it to match whatever information you want to convey.
Be sure to mention on the infographic that people are free to share the content as long as they link back to your site.
Help a Reporter Out
If you have something interesting and newsworthy on your website, you can go to Help a Reporter Out and look for opportunities to help journalists and bloggers find new ideas for articles.
In exchange, you can get a prominent link to your website-often from a website or blog with a lot of authority!
Wrapping Things Up
Remember, when building your link profile, it's all about quality over quantity. One high quality link is worth more than a dozen of low-quality ones, so always pay close attention to how you are building your links and make sure you create a targeted plan of action and follow through.
Build your links over time. Don't rush out and generate dozens of links in a single month as search engines want to see an established pattern of natural growth.
Develop a reputation for high quality content that is relevant, on-point and useful to your target audience. Not only is creating share-worthy content one of the easiest ways to build authority in your market, but it's also one of the fastest ways to generate powerful backlink campaigns as external websites begin to link to your material.
Create pillar-style, informative how-to posts that will capture attention and help you to stand out in your market. Link building for SEO is all about developing as many social signals and possible, so the more you get people talking about your content, as well as actively engaging and sharing it, the faster you will create an unbreakable backlink profile.