The Ups and Downs of Link Building and SEO

On Link Building and SEO – How does it even Work?

In following with our series on SEO related topics this month on the blog, I’d like to talk a little bit about link building. For those of you who are at all familiar with SEO, I’m sure you’ve heard the term before – and sometimes the connotations aren’t all that great. Because of spammy link building practices and techniques throughout the years, the term has kind of gotten a bad name. However, if you go about it the right way, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Link building is an important and helpful tool to have in your SEO arsenal, and definitely something worth learning how to do correctly if you’re looking to grow your business online.

What is Linking?

But first, what qualifies as a link and why do they apply to you? Let’s answer the question with an example. Say you write an awesome piece of content about gardening techniques. Like, it’s incredible. And then let’s say you promote your content on social media and share it with all your gardening friends (which you should definitely do). They read your content, recognize its amazingness, and decide that they’d like to share it with their readers in a blog post of their own. Maybe they’d write a blog post about “best gardening practices” and link to your piece within their content. Or they might create a resource type page on their site with links to their favorite articles and blogs for tips about gardening, and they may link to your content from there. Either way, they are linking to your content, and you’ve just earned a new link to your site – congrats!

The more quality links your site receives, the higher it’s going to rank in Google. There are a smattering of other factors (like those we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks) that influence page ranking, but the presence of quality links pointing to your site has long been a constant and effective way to give your site a boost.

That being said, you’ve got to place an emphasis on quality links. It doesn’t pay to have a bunch of spammy sites linking to you – in fact, this is something that Google penalizes. They want the links to make sense to readers, enhancing search queries to better meet the needs of the searchers. The same goes for linking out from your own site – only link to quality, useful and trustworthy sources. It’s better to have a few quality links than many spammy ones.

blog-300x300Types of Links

So, that’s essentially what a link is – but did you know that there are also different types of links? It’s not too complicated, I promise. Basically, link types are determined by the way in which they are created. Going back to the example above, when your friend links to you because they enjoyed your content, that would be one kind of link – a natural link. They found your content useful, so they decided to link to it. Easy as that.

However, sometimes SEOs will email other bloggers, webmasters, forums, etc. to promote their own content, aka asking these individuals/websites for links back. It’s not an uncommon practice, and it can be very effective if you don’t go overboard. Like, don’t bombard the same poor blogger with requests for links multiple times a day. Do some research within your industry, pinpoint some blogs/sites/forums that seem to fit the theme of your own website, then send a nice, tactful email to the bloggers requesting a link. You could even ask to do a link exchange or something like that. This type of link requires a little more effort on your part to obtain, but it’s no less useful once the link has been made.

Additionally, links can also be created through comments on blogs, forums, etc., creating a path back to your own site. While this is relatively easy and quite limitless, these links don’t count as highly as the others. They’re sometimes even considered to be spammy, so definitely don’t go overboard here.

Other Tid-bits

Some important tidbits to keep in mind before we get into some strategies – first, as I said earlier, links from higher quality pages are much more effective and powerful. Think government pages, news sites, educational sites – Wikipedia is a great example of this done correctly. So many people link to various pages on Wikipedia daily – just think about all those quality links! That’s why it always pulls up so highly in the search results for those random terms you type into the search bar.

Also, if you’re targeting a specific keyword within your content (which you should), try to get links from sites that are already ranking for that same keyword. That way, Google will know that your sites are related by that keyword, and you know it’s a higher quality site if it’s already ranking for said terms. You can also try looking at your competitor’s backlinks to see who is linking to them. You might try and target those same sites for a link in the future – if they were interested in your competition, they might also be interested in you.

One more thing – search engines like Google tend to value links differently based on a number of factors. Instead of me trying to explain this, go and check out this awesome blog post on Moz.com. It’s very helpful!

Gone-Viral-300x300A Few Strategies

Ask your customers to link to you. Ask them to put a partnership badge on their website, or maybe write a review about your company and link back to your site. If they have a resource page, or a page dedicated to providers they use and trust, see if they’ll link to you there.

Create a blog and produce good quality content regularly. I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. Goggle loves fresh, quality content on a consistent basis, so if you’re producing it and others are sharing it, you’re more likely to achieve higher rankings. Do a little keyword research, try targeting a few key phrases in your content, and keep plugging away even if you don’t see results right away. It can take a good chunk of time for Google to recognize your consistency so don’t give up early.

Produce viral or newsworthy content. You know those blogs or videos that just seem to take off? Try to create some of those. I know, I know, easier said than done. But at least try! Do some research and see what types of content seem to go viral within your niche. And then do something similar – with your own personal flair of course. The same goes for newsworthy content – if there’s something big happening within your industry, form your opinion on the matter and then blog about it. Sometimes being a bit controversial can go a long way too. Try to get people talking about the things that matter most to them. The more convincing and honest you are, the more likely others will link back to you.

Conclusion

Link building doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can be a bit awkward or challenging until you get the hang of it. But don’t give up! It’s important, and the more you practice, the more successful you’ll be.

But – how do you define link strategy success? When you start to see an increase in search traffic and higher rankings, you know you’re doing something right. Keep doing what you’re doing, but always be researching and trying new methods. As with anything in the SEO world, strategies change, so make sure you’re constantly evolving.

Have you tried any of the strategies listed above? Did you have any success? What’s worked for you?


**This post is the 5th in a series on all things SEO. If you missed the first 3 posts, you can check them out right here:

What is SEO and Why is it Important?

Best Practices for On Page Optimization

The Perfectly Structured Blog Post

How to Improve Site Structure for SEO

Request Pricing