Link Building: The Dos and Don’ts
As you’re well aware, link building has changed a lot over the past decade.
Not long ago, everyone was using underhanded, manipulative tactics in order to game search engines and inflate their rankings.
Fortunately, much of this has been phased out and nowadays. Webmasters that seek to help and educate their audiences are the ones that are rewarded.
Google’s algorithm is constantly changing and it’s hard to keep up with what’s good and bad in terms of link building. In fact here is one of the best and most comprehensive resources out there. At 18,000 words it is the Ultimate Google Algorithm Updates Guide!
As a general rule of thumb, you should do anything that benefits the end user and avoid anything that is inherently manipulative.
Good Link Strategies
Google has explicitly stated that good website content is essential if you want to improve your rankings. To quote Google directly: “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”
A decade ago, it was easy to game the search engines and artificially inflate your ranking by uploading subpar, keyword loaded content. Thankfully this is no longer the case.
Good content is all about utility. Consider how you can give actionable advice to your users that will ultimately enhance their lives.
If you haven’t already, I recommend surveying your audience and finding out about their pain points, values and desires. When you have an intimate understanding of your users, then you can craft content which truly helps them (and therefore deserves to generate links).
It’s a harsh reality, but if your content isn’t getting links, then it probably doesn’t have enough of a positive impact on people for them to want to share it.
I recommend experimenting with multiple types of content.
Guest Post With Integrity
Recently, Google let the world know that guest posting for the purpose of educating people is perfectly acceptable – but guest posting with the intention of large-scale link building is bad.
Don’t publish the same article across many sites and stuff them with spammy links. Guest posting is a long-term game.
I’ve delivered countless guest posts (like this one) over the past few years. I love using my expertise to genuinely help people. I also know that because my intention is to give (rather than take value) to new audiences – this will ultimately help me with my link building efforts.
If you want to accumulate links via guest posting, the secret is to diligently research each blog’s user base and discover what types of post are getting the most positive responses. Your contact person at the guest site will help to point you in the right direction, but you can also look at social shares as an indicator of popularity.
The more helpful you are, the more links you will accumulate.
I find it useful to include quotes from other influencers within my articles. Firstly, this provides value for my readers! Plus when I reach out to the influencers on social media, it also puts me on their radar.
I’m a firm believer in the law of reciprocity. When you include links to someone else’s work in your articles, there is a good chance that they will return the favor someday.
The Skyscraper Technique
Brian Dean, the mastermind behind Backlinko, published an amazing blog post instructing readers to find existing link-worthy content, then blow it out the water by creating something longer or more informative.
Ethical Link Building Services
Done ethically, this can fact-track results because en expert skill set is always beneficial especially if you are new to link building. However it all depends on the intent and the ethics as to whether this is a good idea for you. As website owner you must decide, but here is an article that outlines which link building services are helpful or harmful.
Bad Link Strategies
Paying for Links
While it’s possible to buy links in a way that aligns with Google’s guidelines, I would forget this strategy altogether as the risk far outweighs the reward. You never know how reputable the company you’re dealing with actually is.
Accumulating a large quantity of black hat spam links may not only get you penalized by Google – you could also lose all of your organic traffic overnight.
Sadly, this happened to one of my clients who paid a firm to build links to her site. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize that the links would be low quality and was unaware of the potential risk to her traffic.
If you’ve got money to invest, don’t invest in paid links – invest in better content. Yes, this will take longer to achieve success, but you’ll reap the rewards of sustainable growth.
Spammy Forum Posts and Blog Comments
If you’re like me, you roll your eyes every time you read a generic, vague comment which adds zero value to the discussion but boldly emphasizes the poster’s own website. Unfortunately, you can find comments like this on every marketing blog and forum on the web.
By all means, include a link to your website in your forum signature – but always post with the intention of helping your fellow users.
Ironically, if you spam your link everywhere and deliver no value, people are less likely to click it. However, when you use your expertise to solve problems and provide useful information, people will be intrigued to learn more about you and will want to click through to your website.
Cloaking is a SEO tactic that presents different content to the user compared to the search engine crawlers.
This is a terrible black hat tactic which seeks to manipulate search engine rankings using cloaked content. As you can guess, Google take a very hard stance on deliberate cloaking.
An example of cloaking could be where a webmaster inserts invisible keywords into a piece of content. This makes the text the same color as the background in order to disguise it from the human eye.
Avoid this kind of behavior at all costs. If you have to ask whether you’re behaving ethically – that’s already a red flag.
Only Linking to Your Homepage
If all of your inbound links go directly to your homepage, this looks suspicious.
In a healthy, organic link building campaign, external content that discusses your products, services or blog posts will link to the appropriate pages on your website.
Please encourage webmasters to consider contextual relevance when linking to you.
If someone has linked to your homepage, kindly ask them to revise to the link for a more relevant page.
This is beneficial for SEO purposes, but it also improves your overall user experience.
What are some of your favorite link building tactics in 2018? Please let me know in the comments below.
- Link Building: The Dos and Don’ts – Jan 22, 2018
- How and When to Get Into Paid Customer Acquisition – Dec 7, 2017
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