Successful link building is no longer as simple as obtaining as many links as possible through whatever means necessary and enjoying better rankings as a result. Nowadays, link builders must employ a much more thorough, qualitative approach if the desired results are to be achieved.If you want to improve search visibility of your business, link building, or increasing the number of inbound links to your website, still remains a critical and powerful online-marketing tool. Let’s look at three ways you can use strategy to result in successful link building.
The Three Pillars of Successful Link Building
- Make sure your links are coming from the right places
Google looks at a number of factors when assessing the quality of a site’s link profile, including the diversity, authority and relevancy of the various domains linking to your site.
You might have a ton of great links, but if these only come from a small handful of sites this is unlikely to be enough, especially for competitive keywords/search terms. Broaden your link profile by obtaining links from a wider range of websites, publications and platforms for optimal results.
While diversity is important, it’s also vital to ensure that your links are coming from authoritative sites to prevent them from appearing spammy, untrustworthy and overly promotional. Useful links might take more time and effort to obtain, but they will provide you with a range of benefits.
When seeking link outreach opportunities, look for websites, blogs and publications that fit your niche rather than more general ones. So if you renovate period homes, a link from periodliving.co.uk would be better than one from freshome.com, and better still than a link from a general lifestyle blog – from both a user and an SEO perspective.
This ties in nicely with my next point, which explores link building tactics from the point of view of the user rather than purely an SEO one. For more tips on optimising your link building activity to increase your rankings, check out Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday on the subject.
- Put yourself in the user’s shoes
It’s all well and good having a great link profile, but if the user experience falls short of a searcher’s needs and expectations, you’re missing a vital trick. To generate more traffic to your site and turn traffic into conversions, you need not only fulfil Google’s criteria, but also provide a satisfying experience for the people who are seeking information relating to your industry.
When examining your link profile, ask yourself whether or not each page in question fulfils the user’s needs. This throws up a number of related questions, for instance:
Is the content of this page satisfactory in answering their query? Is it laid out in a format that is simple to follow and easy on the eye? Is it appropriate in terms of language and tone, without being either too simplistic or too technical? Do the links guide them to further information that they will actually find useful rather than being stuck in as an afterthought? Once they land on your site, will the experience be consistent with what they were expecting to find?
The link(s) to your site should appear in a way that feels natural and encourages clicks. Ideally, they should be placed within the main body content itself rather than in a sidebar or footer, with the anchor and surrounding text suggesting that they are there for informational rather than promotional purposes.
You should also look at user experience from a technical point of view, ensuring that the relevant pages load quickly and are easy to navigate across all browsers and devices.
In other words, you need to ensure a seamless customer journey from the moment they stumble upon the content pointing to your site to the point at which they (hopefully) end up purchasing your product or making an enquiry.
- Build relationships, not just links
It’s a lot harder (and usually more expensive) to obtain links by reaching out to a faceless company than by building relationships that actually make people want to link to you. Connecting to site owners, bloggers and other influential people in your industry on a personal level can bring you multiple links and shares and may even encourage them to introduce you to their connections. It’s far more effective to play the long game, building up contacts through things like networking events, trade shows and conferences. Social media is a great way to stay in touch, but when it comes to making a first impression on people and businesses, there really is no substitute for face-to-face contact.
The key to network- (and link-) building success is to present yourself as someone who genuinely wants to form a positive relationship rather than a shameless hustler promoting your wares. Ruth Burr Reedy shares some really helpful tips on this in her article, How to Build Links in Person.
What the Future Holds for Link Building Strategy
Google’s ranking algorithms are only getting more sophisticated, and successful link building certainly isn’t going to get any easier. But as daunting as swapping quick-gain tactics for a longer-term link building strategy might seem, you can at least take heart in the fact that it makes your work one heck of a lot more rewarding.
Yes, it’s challenging, and yes it takes time, but just remember that once all your efforts have paid off, you’ll have contributed something really useful rather than adding to the endless reams of rubbish populating the post-page one search engine results pages. And that, for me, is reward in itself.