Whilst Google still penalises us for what it sees as ‘artificial link building’, the ranking algorithm still places a heavy emphasis on links and they remain a powerful ranking signal for search. The engines themselves have refined the use of link data to a fine art, and use complex algorithms to perform nuanced evaluations of sites and pages based on this information.
They are constantly testing and experimenting with how they use links and therefore it is very important to diversify the way we secure links to create a many-sided backlink profile for our websites that can hold up to the tweaks by search engines.
So how do you build links in the safest possible way to boost your visibility without falling into the ‘outreach/PR’ trap?
There are a many link building tactics out there, but all of them essentially sit under three categories: natural, manual and self-created. These categories cover all the ways to earn links to your site – ideally as a business you should employ a mix of the three to ensure your backlink profile is healthy, diverse and profitable.
Natural Editorial Links
These are links that are given naturally by other sites and pages that want to link to your content or company. These links require no specific action from the SEO, other than the creation of great web content and the ability to create awareness about it.
Manual Outreach Links
These links are created by emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind, often creating a value proposition by explaining why creating the link is in their best interest.
Many, many websites offer visitors the opportunity to create links through guest book signings, forum signatures, blog comments, or user profiles. These links offer the lowest value, but can still have an impact for some sites. In general, search engines continue to devalue most of these types of links, and have been known to penalise sites that pursue these links aggressively. Proceed with caution as these types of links are often considered spam. Websites caught buying links or participating in link schemes risk severe penalties that will drop their rankings into oblivion.
Unfortunately, link building is one of the most difficult activities to measure as engines internally weigh each link with precise, mathematical metrics. Try using some of the following metrics to determine which links are best for you.
Ranking for relevant search terms – one of the best ways to determine how highly valued your page is in a particular search engine is to search on it using the keywords and phrases from your page targets.
Competitors backlinks – By studying the inbound links of a website that rank well with your keywords, you can gain valuable knowledge about the links that are helping to achieve this ranking.
MozRank –this site shows you have popular a given web page is. Links from important sites increase a page’s popularity.
Number of links on a page – if your page is linked to a page that is diluted with links, your link to that page can also be ranked lower –so try to link to pages with fewer links rather than many.
Success comes when you see increases in search traffic, higher rankings, more frequent search engine crawling and increases in referring link traffic. If these metrics do not rise after a successful link building campaign, it’s possible you either need to seek better quality link targets.
And finally, here are some solid day-to-day examples of how to grow your links:
Start blogging – through an informative and entertaining company blog, you have the opportunity to contribute fresh material frequently to you site, participate in conversations and earn listings and likes from consumers and other blogs. It’s a very valuable strategy.
Use your customer’s loyalty – capitalise on your loyal clients or suppliers who can show your logos or business name on their sites.
Guest post – a highly effective tactic for earning links and exposure. Along with offering content, you can leverage the content on your own site for links. A high quality infographic can attract a large number of links, but executing this requires proper investment.