Gone are the days when you could buy a bunch of low-quality links and have your site ranking #1 within a matter of days or weeks. Trust me, I know about those days. I was there when things like link exchanges, mass directory submissions, and re-spun article marketing were the hottest things. And, let me tell you, they used to work like a charm. Not so much now. Google isn’t playing games anymore.
They are cracking down on spam and black-hat SEO techniques. Now, there are no more easy shortcuts. You will have to build links the right way; the way it was intended (at least in Google’s eyes). But, don’t be afraid – there are old and new techniques that still work in today’s SEO environment. Yes, it takes more time and effort, but that’s what naturally happens in any growing/competitive industry.
Here are some effective link building techniques for today and beyond:
Link Bait through Content Creation
It’s been said time and time again that content is king. It’s true. Without content, the Internet would be worthless. It is content that brings people online. Whether it’s products or information, they all serve a very important purpose.
I have yet to see an infographic that wasn’t at least a little bit interesting. Infographics make it easy for webmasters to share information and stats about a particular subject. In fact, I have linked to other sites because I wanted to share an interesting infographic with my readers. Infographics are more compelling than articles because they give you a visual representation of interesting data.
Write about something controversial or very interesting –
Controversial topics often hit close to home for both proponents and opponents of the idea. It’s human nature to talk about things they are passionate about. They become vocal about it and also share their thoughts with others. This sharing and discussing eventually turns into links, as people make references on various blogs and forums.
Write a definitive guide –
A definitive guide is an article on steroids. These are in-depth articles that explain something thoroughly to give the reader a good understanding of the topic at hand. Because not too many bloggers write definitive guides, they tend to stand out from the typical article.
Compile a comprehensive list of resources –
Let’s face it. Most people do not look past the first page of Google or Bing search results. Furthermore, search engines are not the best places to look for lists of something specific. This is why comprehensive lists of resources compiled by people are very helpful.
Add web tools to your site –
Useful web tools are magnets for visitors. Tools add value to the user’s experience and offer something that a simple article can not. Tools can perform many tasks such as calculating equations, or providing custom data within a matter of a few seconds. Examples of web tools can be a loan calculator or an advanced search tool. These time-saving tools are what bring visitors to many of the most popular sites in the world, not to mention the links that come with it as well.
Be a Good Samaritan
Report broken links or bugs –
Webmasters and site owners love it when visitors report broken links or bugs on their site. You’re kind of helping them maintain their website. There’s two ways you can approach this: 1) You can report it and offer a replacement link in it’s place. In this case, you would act like you’re not affiliated with the replacement link. 2) You can report it and ask for a favor in return, which happens to be a link. How the webmaster or site owner responds depends a lot on their personality, and there is really no way to predict it. In most cases, honesty gets the best response.
Offer suggestions for improvements –
Similar to reporting broken links, offering suggestions for improvements are good ways to be “buddy-buddy” with the site owner. Again, you are helping them improve their website, so they may offer something in return. Hopefully with a strong link. 🙂
Exchange Products or Services for Reviews
Be careful with this one. According to Google, this qualifies as a form of paid link building. I won’t tell you to do this or not, but this can be an effective method for building links. The way it works is… you offer a blogger a free product or service in exchange for a review or blog post. So, you’re essentially paying for the blog post in the form of a product or service. Personally, I don’t find a problem with this, as long as the review is honestly written. Google may have a different opinion of this, but how would they know that a blogger was compensated to write a blog post? They can only guess it was. If Google wants to make algorithm updates based on speculation and not facts, then it is not a winning formula for them in the long run.
Run a Contest
People love to win free stuff, so running a contest on your site is a good way to attract some attention from bloggers and customers. Make sure to publicize your contest on your site as well as your social media pages. All of this attention will hopefully lead to some new links to your site.
Sponsor a Good Cause or Organization
Support a good cause or organization and you may end up with a strong backlink to your site. Many non-profit organizations have a “sponsors” page on their website where they give shout-outs to their supporters or sponsors.
Submit to Quality Directories
Since day one, I have been an advocate of quality directories. The keyword here is quality, and I can’t stress that enough. I believe they serve a purpose on the web just like any other website. I would say that a link from a quality directory page is just as strong as a link from another webpage.
If you own a local business, I would recommend you start submitting to the local business directories first. Most of the local business directories offer free links to your website and can benefit you for local and global rankings.
For businesses that online-based, you may want to consider submitting to some general web directories or niche directories. These types of directories do not require a physical location for you to submit to them.
Write Guest Posts
Despite all the fear-mongering out there, I believe guest blogging is still one of the most effective ways to build links. Publishers need content and the link-builders need links, so it’s a win-win situation. When it comes to judging content, it’s all about quality and uniqueness. Why would it matter who wrote or created the content? Isn’t Google’s #1 philosophy not about providing the best quality and value for readers? So if I’m following Google’s philosophy, why should I worry about who wrote it? As for the link within the guest post, that’s where it can get tricky. Google may or may not be OK with the link that is inserted into an article. The key here is to make sure the article and link is relevant to the topic-theme of the site.
The Internet was founded on content and links. That won’t change now or later, nor should it change how a site owner manages their own website.
Get Links from Wikis
Links from Wiki sites like Wikipedia are typically nofollowed, but I think it is still worthwhile to get links from them. Wiki sites receive a lot of targeted traffic and if you can get your link on a popular Wiki page, you stand to gain some good traffic. Also, you get exposure. The more exposure you get, the greater the chance of people linking to you over time. It’s just common sense.
Hopefully, I gave you some practical ideas for building links in the current year and well into the future. Using a well-rounded approach to link building will get you the best organic search results.
Different people have different opinions on which methods are OK for building links, so you need to understand the different perspectives of SEOs. Some old school SEOs may still use a gray-hat approach to building links, while some of the new schoolers may adhere strictly to Google’s guidelines.
SEO also takes creativity. There is no blueprint for a #1 ranking. There are millions of ways to reach the goal. Just remember to: Avoid black-hat techniques and diversify your links.