What is Link Building?
Link building is a way to improve the ranking of your business website on a search engine. Search engines like Google do not want to display a web link that is not ‘editorial, or freely given.’ Google’s algorithms, however, are not able to track such links as well as they would want to, so people build links for their website which affect how a links-based search engine such as Google would rate the attractiveness of a website. Building links can tremendously affect the rankings of your website in Google and other search engines: positively, if the ranking is from a trusted source, negatively, if your webpage has been flagged as suspicious, over time.
The most important way to get unpaid traffic from Google is getting and keeping a variety of different high quality links to your website. Before April 2012, even an inexperienced link builder could make almost any site rank high by creating a 300 word article and building 500 unnatural links to it from low quality blogs with unique anchor text, spread out over a few months. Industrial scale link building services were able to dictate the very SERPS owned by Google, just by taking advantage of the way Google works counting links as votes and hence creating high ranking websites through artificial links.
To stay high in Google rankings for the long term, you need to create good quality content which is very useful to someone looking for this information.
This is what the Google guidelines on link-building say:
“Create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Google“
Google does not want you asking specifically for links or building links you make yourself because this is a clear attempt to manipulate rankings. This is what makes Google the best search engine.
Link Building Techniques/Tactics
1. Create a Blog
Create a blog and content on it on a consistent basis which will not only build links internally (by linking out from your posts), but also naturally attract links to your content. A blog is essential to many tactics such as linking out. Creating the blog in itself wonâ€™t build you any links; it’s what you do with it that builds links.
Create content that naturally attracts links, it increases engagement on your blog (if itâ€™s worth linking to, it’s usually worth reading). This is where your content and link building strategy become one.
You must always aim for longer form content. The reason for this is rooted in psychology (people like to look smart, so they like to share longer, more detailed content), and it usually works well, so if you invest in a piece of content, the rule of thumb is the longer, the better.
2. Get Business Reviews
Reviews drive new business and are imperative to business growth. However, if you ask for one or incentivize their posting, they might not count on the search engines. Local reviews are just an extension of word of mouth marketing. They are a permanent record of consumer’s thoughts of your business just like social media.
- Yelp Review Guidelines:
“You shouldn’t ask your customers to post reviews on Yelp.”
- Google+ Review Guidelines:
“Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased â€¦ Don’t offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews.”
To generate reviews indirectly you can:
- Engage in social media and interested customers will be sure to give a review
- Integrate reviews with email marketing, mention reviews and provide links to review your business in the emails sent out to clients.
- Â Avoid doing anything that is pattern-based including:
- IP address of the reviewer: Never ask for reviews from your location(s).
- Timeline: Reviews should not come in a limited period of time like a week or month
- Same phrases: Reviews should all have different phrasing
3. Using Social Media for Link Building
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest are the social media sites that you must consider participating in. Use the social media sites to create links back to your business website. These are the steps you need to follow:
- Identify the target audience for your business. In order to do this you need to use industry data and social listening tools that provide information about what people are talking about on social media websites.
- Create core groups from the target audience data. These groups consist of different groups of people that will be interested in your business and products. Some of these core groups will be influencers who are willing to post about a companyâ€™s products on social media websites, creating backlinks and sharing them with their friends and followers.
- Create a persona. Make a profile of the business to provide information about the business as well as post content and links related to the industry. This enables other users, as well as search engines (ranking websites) to see the company as an industry expert and someone with authority.
- Post content. To gain social signals (likes, retweets, shares) from other users with social influence, you need to properly plan the content. The subjects you post about must be natural and relevant to the industry. Simply spamming users with links to their website will not lead to any positive results.
The more followers you gain across various social media and the more your content is shared, the more links you will build up to your main website. â€˜Shares,â€™ â€˜likesâ€™ and â€˜tweetsâ€™ are known as social signals which play an important role in how search engines rank websites for specific keywords. The higher the social signals the more likely the business is to be ranked highly by search engines.
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing is used by many businesses of all sizes across the world. It is one of the older tools of internet marketing but it remains effective till date. There are many benefits of email marketing:
- Low-cost. One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is its lower cost compared to mainstream marketing channels. You may need to invest in specialist software to automate, track and evaluate the emails sent to clients and this may involve costs. However, these costs are much lower than what you would expect to pay for other marketing channels.
- Target your fans directly. Email marketing is one of the only channels that consumers voluntarily agree to. You would send emails relating to your product and business only to those who have signed up to receive them. This leads to much higher conversion rates for the business.
- Segmentation. It is easy to categorize your customers into different segments and send emails to only those who meet a certain criteria. Email list segmentation works fantastically for brands that possess information about their subscribers. Studies have shown that marketers who use this strategy often boast of increased engagement rates as a result.
- Encourage impulse buying. An email allows customers to go from witnessing an offer to purchasing an item within two clicks of a button. With a tempting call to action and a link straight to the checkout, email newsletters can drive sales like no other channel.
- Easy to create. Good content can create a lot of interest, it can be made to look attractive with pictures, videos and graphic designs and none of these need a technical team.
- Easy to share. Subscribers can forward the email containing brilliant deals and offers to their friends at the click of the send button.
- Global. Email lets you instantly send a message to thousands of people across the world.
- Return on investment. Due to the high conversion rate, emails provide a high return on investment.
You shouldnâ€™t chase link building tactics blindly. Keep the various strategies in mind but look for inspiration from other businesses and modify ideas to your business and your users. Make an effort to understand your customers and their behavior. Accordingly you can formulate a combination of strategies to influence your customers to link to your business and promote your business. Your focus should be on creating high quality in-depth content, building genuine relationships with people and targeting the right audience in the right manner.