While links are by no means the only factor search engines use to determine where your site appears in search, without them you really don’t stand a chance. Many SEO experts will tell you that links are arguably the most important factor in helping your site show up favorably in SERPS. In fact, Google has confirmed this school of thought. High-quality links entering your site send a signal to search engines to determine how authoritative and relevant the content on your site is to Internet users. Well-optimized sites with lots of these types of links typically show up higher in search, thus receiving more traffic over time than their less-optimized counterparts. Building links is not an easy process, but it is worth it. To make such an effort a little easier, I’ve outlined some high-level tips to get you started with your link building strategy.
Contrary to an oft-quoted statement in 2014 by Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s web spam team, guest blogging is still okay. The key is to not do it in a spammy way and to build reciprocal relationships with high-quality website owners who post content relevant to your own site’s content. Build relationships where you and your team exchange SEO-optimized content that adds value to the other website’s audience.
You need to focus on thought leadership and reaching a new audience to gain brand awareness. Then, work the keywords organically and not spam to avoid having a negative impact. Include only one or two links to content on your own site that add depth to the article. Avoid posting too frequently on one website. The key to doing this is to build multiple relationships so you can scale your guest posting and get quality links from a variety of domains. Reciprocal relationships are very beneficial in all aspects of marketing. This is certainly true with link building and can be extremely valuable if you follow the right path. Being spammed or posting too often on a site can have the opposite negative impact.
The idea here is to find relevant articles on high quality areas and ask the site owners for a link to a relevant article on your own site. For example. I write a lot about content marketing on my blog. Let’s say there’s a particular article that I really like and want to gain traction. I would do some research on the web and find relevant articles with anchor text that would make a great link back to my site while adding depth and value for readers on the other site. I would look at sites like the Content Marketing Institute or Convince and Convert to get started. After identifying a few articles that fit the bill, I would contact the editorial team and explain exactly where I think the link would fit, as well as why and the value it adds for readers.
It doesn’t always work, but when it does, you can very easily get a link back to your site without having to do too much work. As long as the content on the site you are requesting is relevant to the content on your site, this can be extremely beneficial. Getting links from high-quality sites this way can take time, so a good place to start is to work with colleagues, relatives, friends, and colleagues who have relevant websites. They will often be more receptive to posting a link on their site to help you. As you start building your site and earning backlinks, it will become easier to apply and get a “yes” from higher quality site owners.
Publish on social networks
Social media is a great way to promote your content. This can help your content reach new audiences and generally expand reach. Another benefit of sharing on social media is that it helps other bloggers or website owners find relevant content that could be a great link in one of their future posts.
Here is an example of a simple Twitter post I created for a previous article I wrote for Business2Community.com:
—Anthony Gaenzle, MBA (@AnthonyGaenzle) August 19, 2019
I can then track who is engaging with the post, and if it makes sense, I can reach out and open a backlinks conversation. If you notice that a particular follower or connection on one of your social networks regularly shares your content or mentions you, consider reaching out to them to build a relationship. Check if they have their own website. If the subscriber doesn’t have their own site, their company probably does. Once you have determined their situation, ask them if they would be willing to drop a link in one of their posts or even accept a guest post. If they regularly share your content, your chances of getting a positive response are much higher than if you are site owners who send cold emails.
Connect with writers looking for sources
Bloggers and more traditional media writers (aka “reporters”) are always looking for sources to help inform their stories. Connecting with these types of people is a great way to get a link back to your site in exchange for a quote or a quick interview that reinforces their article with the voice of an expert. One of my favorite resources for this is HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out. I have personally been quoted and got links from major publications like Forbes and Social Media Today using this resource. To get started, simply go to the HARO website and click on “I am a source”. You can subscribe to a free or paid subscription. I use the free version. HARO will then allow you to select the areas in which you are an expert, and then you will receive emails tailored to your areas of expertise with source requests from a variety of writers and journalists.
You just skim through the topics, and if you think there’s an application where you can add value, you submit a pitch. Sometimes they are accepted, and sometimes not. It’s really a numbers game, but if you put effort into your presentation and have the right expertise, you’re bound to grab a high-quality link here and there.
The important thing to understand is that you shouldn’t just start sending random emails or writing unsolicited guest posts. As with any marketing initiative, you should have a strategy built around your link building efforts. Figure out things like the sites you want to target, the keywords you want to rank for, and who will be in charge of different aspects of your strategy. What social media channels will you use and how does your link building strategy play into your approach to each of these channels? Once you’ve ironed out the details, document your strategy so you can stick to it. Write down some metrics to track your performance and set deadlines to make sure you stay on top of needed tasks. Having a strategy in place will almost always result in higher levels of success. So, follow the article, but be sure to write everything down before you start.