1) Diversify Your Anchor Texts
Another element that Google has been cracking down on this year is over-optimization (both on-site and off-site). There’s nothing Google hates more than feeling like you’re trying to force it to rank you for a specific keyword. For instance, if you are targeting the keyword “New York Condos For Sale” and you’re asking all your link partners to link to you using that exact keyword, Google will think it’s highly suspicious.
It simply doesn’t make sense for Google that all these websites would naturally want to link to you using that exact keyphrase, which also happens to be in your website’s title bar and all over your homepage. *ahemahem*
Think about it, if people were to link to you naturally, wouldn’t they all be using different keywords? You bet they would, so try to vary your anchor links in a natural way. This will show Google that you’re not trying to force it to rank you for any specific keywords; rather you’re just trying to point visitors in the right direction. 🙂
Remember that Google is now smart enough to figure out which keyword relates best to your content. I also highly recommend using editorial keywords as anchor texts, such as: “click here,” “read more,” “learn more,” etc… as these look way more natural. Again, diversity is key here.
2) Link Your Inner-Pages
When link building, a lot of SEO’s are still making the rookie mistake of always linking to their homepage. I understand that your homepage is the most important page of your site, but you can be guaranteed that Google will raise a red flag if a large majority of your back links point to your homepage and very few of them are linking to your blog posts and inner pages. It simply doesn’t make logical sense for Googlebot. After all, inner pages are where the real content is at! When you look at a website that acquires tons of links naturally like SEOMOZ, you’ll notice that most of the natural links they get are to their inner content pages (blog posts, videos, SEO guides, etc…)
Also, remember that it’s not just about external links. Internal links are also highly important. Take some time to improve your internal site’s structure by making sure the right keywords are linking to the right pages internally. This will make it easy and intuitive for both Google and your visitors to crawl your site. If you’re lazy and you happen to be using WordPress, consider using a plug-in like SEO Smart Links that can automate the whole process.
3) Get More Social, Leverage Your Fanbase
In 2012, social signals are more important than ever. When you post fresh content on your site or blog, make sure you share it on ALL your social pages. In fact, this should be almost like a reflex. For the laziest out there, there are tons of plug-in and tools that can help you automate this process. Twitter feed is one of them.
I have seen too many companies posting new blog posts weekly, but not sharing them on their Google+, Facebook fan page, or on Twitter. What’s the point of having all these fans, friends and followers if you’re NOT showing them your content? When you share useful content, you will get likes, retweets, and +1’s. This not only gives you bonus points in terms of SEO, but it also helps virally spread your content far beyond the confines of your fanbase. A win-win!
4) Focus on Quality, not Quantity
This has been said over and over, but it is more important this year than ever before. The game has drastically changed, folks! Google will penalize your website if you have a large amount of backlinks from untrustworthy sites. (Authority Link Network anyone?)
If you are doing guest posting, I can guarantee you that one high quality blog post from a reputable site is better than 100 posts from low quality ones. I have seen clients in competitive niches enter the first page with less than 30 quality links, while most of their competitors had hundreds/thousands of them.
Also, do yourself a favor and forget about shady link building techniques like mass directory submissions or any automated type of link. If you know someone that has reached the first page using these “spammy” techniques, you should feel bad for them. Google will eventually hit them and hit them hard. If not today, maybe tomorrow, or next month. These guys are definitely on Penguin’s hit list. You don’t want to be in their shoes. Going to bed every night wondering if your website will still be in the SERPs tomorrow is not a good feeling.
5) Make Your Content Link-Worthy
Last but not least, make sure you are producing link-worthy content. Outsourcing your article writing for $5 a piece won’t get you very far. If your visitors don’t like your content, they will leave your site. High bounce rates = bad user experience. Bad user experience = lower Google rankings. It’s really that simple. If you provide content that has value, people will stay longer on your site and possibly hit the like or tweet buttons on one of your articles. This enhanced user experience will pay off SEO-wise.
Always remember that content is (and will always be) king. That is the rule of thumb in white hat SEO. Do you think websites like SEOMOZ or Search Engine Journal need to do any link building in order to rank high in search engines? Probably not, they simply focus on delivering high quality content that people constantly link to from their websites and their social profiles.
Begin by examining the links on your own site.
Unlike most inbound links, the links on your site are entirely within your control. Take a close look at how you’re linking to your own content on your site. Are you using keyword-rich anchor text to point to relevant content elsewhere on the site? (Anchor text is a hyperlinked phrase, such as click here, that links to content that typically exists on another web page.) If anchor text is not keyword-rich, revise it, Fasser says. This can help the content that’s being linked to with anchor text get a boost in search engine relevancy.
Study your competitors’ links
You can also use tools such as Open Site Explorer to investigate the links your competitors have, Fasser says. This can provide ideas for directories and other sites to pursue.
Go after links your competitors don’t have.
It’s not enough to simply find out which links your competitors are getting and go after them. At best, that will simply put you on an equal footing with them. You should also pursue inbound links your competitors dont have, Ward says.
Focus on link quality, not quantity.
Relevant links from a few high-quality, trusted, authoritative sites are worth more in SEO terms than a ton of links from low-quality sites, Mastaler says.
Develop a list of top-priority keywords and use them in your online content.
Determine which keywords have the most search volume, are the least competitive and have the highest relevancy to your business and its products or services, Fasser advises. Use those keywords in your blog posts, white papers, press releases and other online content. “When you get links from other sites to your content, you’ll be more likely to get good-quality anchor text links using your important keywords,” he explains.
Focus on directories relevant to your industry.
General Web directories are fairly useless in helping your site rise in search result rankings or attract targeted traffic, Ward says. A far better strategy, he adds, is to go after vertically oriented, curated directories maintained by people with “extreme knowledge or passion” who take their time to “collect useful resources.”
The best Web directories are those maintained by people who are doing it out of passion, not for SEO. “Google loves and respects these sites because there’s a layer of human quality control involved,” Ward explains. “The more heavily edited or curated the content is, the more likely it is that Google will respect an anchor text link from that site.”
Go after a diverse set of links.
The best link-building practice is to obtain inbound links to pages across your site, not just your home page, from a variety of domains using different anchor text keywords, Fasser advises. Just as it’s important not to invest in one stock, the same holds true for your link portfolio—ideally, you want to get traffic from many sources. Also, a diverse set of links and anchor text keywords gives you more credibility with search engines.
Focus on relevant links.
An inbound link from a site that’s relevant to your business is worth more for ranking purpose—sas well as for attracting targeted traffic—than a link from your cousin Billy’s site about his favorite beer. “Getting a blog or other site that writes about things related to your product is the way to go,” Fasser says.
Develop high-quality content.
Google’s Panda update of 2011 pushed pages it considered to have poorly written and/or spammy content way down in its rankings. As a consequence, Web sites need to focus on creating high-quality content that’s informative, useful and relevant, Fasser says. Not only will high-quality content keep you out of Google’s crosshairs, it will help you attract inbound links and targeted traffic.
Create infographics and make them easy to share.
Infographics are extremely popular and can increase site traffic, Mastaler says. Other sites often link to them, and they can get lots of Tweets and Facebook likes.
For example, BlueGlass Interactive developed a content marketing infographic that Mashable subsequently hosted. As a result, the infographic has attracted more than 3,800 Tweets, 650 Google +1s and 1,100 Facebook likes.
The keys to getting your infographics posted and shared is to make them visually compelling, informative and neutral in tone—that is, not about your company. It’s OK to put your brand on an infographic aimed at consumers, Mastaler adds, as long as you understand that businesses will be less likely to share it.
Write product reviews.
Well-written reviews of products related to your industry or niche are ideal “linkbait” to post on your site, says Mastaler. Include images (and credit the source) with your reviews to drive engagement. To help each review get noticed, post a link to it and a description on LinkedIn, Quora and Twitter. Create a Pinterest board with photos of the products you’ve reviewed; each pin (or photo) will include a link back to your site. Video and podcast reviews are another way to attract links and traffic.
Develop social media press releases.
A social media press release typically includes one or more photos, social sharing links and video clips. As such, it’s more likely to get picked up by other sites, Mastaler says. Services such as Business Wire and PR Web will host your release and distribute it to news services and media outlets across the Web. Be sure to include your top keywords and one or more anchor text links back to your site within the release.
Don’t forget online forums.
Online forums are “a tremendous resource,” Mastaler says, since that’s where you’ll find people who are passionate and are often active bloggers. If you can connect with them in a meaningful or helpful way without overdoing a sales pitch, forum members may reward you with a link.
Be sure you really need a link before you pursue it.
Before you request an inbound link, ask yourself if you really have a good chance of getting it, Fasser advises. “Link building eats up a lot of time and resources, so make sure you’ve taken the time to understand the site and its content and if it’s truly relevant for what you do.”
Reciprocal links aren’t necessarily a bad—or good—strategy.
“Many people mistakenly make a blanket statement that a particular link-building tactic is good or bad” in terms of SEO effectiveness, Ward says. “The reality is, its just not that simple.”
His advice: “Always ask yourself if you would pursue a link (reciprocal or not) if there were no such thing as Google. Instead, do it because swapping links with another site will be beneficial in some way to your site’s visitors.” As one example, it makes perfect sense for a local veterinarian to exchange a link with a dog grooming service in the area.
Big, sudden changes in your inbound links may—or may not—get you into trouble.
Some worry that if their site suddenly attracts a ton of inbound links, Google will suspect black hat or unorthodox link-building activity is occurring and penalize that site in the rankings, Ward says.
The truth is, he says, it depends on the site, its history, the links and the circumstances. If a company is suddenly in the news, its site is likely to gain thousands of inbound links in a few days, with no penalty from Google. Conversely, if about 8 percent of your inbound links had keywords in them and, suddenly, 30 percent of your links are keyword-rich, Google might be suspicious.
“I hate to compare Google to an IRS auditor, but, in some ways, it’s true. Google is auditing your site, looking for things outside the norm,” Ward says. That’s why it’s best to grow links naturally by developing and publicizing great content, instead of hiring someone to plant thousands of identical anchor text links to your site on low-quality websites within only a few days.
Make content easy to share over social media.
Whenever you post new content on your site, such as a white paper or video, Fasser says to be sure its easy to share across social media. Social media updates containing links are great for building traffic and awareness. You should also share the new content with a Tweet or social media update that includes a relevant keyword and a shortened link, such as from bit.ly, to the content.
Don’t put all your eggs in the Google basket.
Too many people put too much emphasis on getting traffic from search engines, Ward says. “The more of your traffic thats coming from Google, the more precarious your position is. Your rankings are fluid and subject to every Google algorithm update,” he says. “I’ve had clients call me and say that, all of a sudden, they’re no longer ranking well and it’s costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.”
Instead, your goal should be to get traffic from a variety of sites, of which Google is simply one. Though achieving this takes time, Ward acknowledges, it gives you a solid, stable foundation that will serve you well in the long run.
1. Comment on blogs
A way to build good links for you blog is by finding other blogs within your area of expertise and commenting on their posts.
When doing this you should focus on building authority and relationship. You do this by delivering quality comments and not just “I like this post comments”. Instead you should participate in the discussion by delivering value added comments. Things you can mention in your comments could be:
- Why do you think the blog post is good – what problem has it helped you to solve?
- What is your experience in the area – share tip and tricks you have learned?
If your deliver quality comments the result can be future links, guest posts and even traffic.
2. Participate in forums
As with blog comments the goal of participating on forums is not just to build links. You want to build authority, relationship and ad quality.
When you have found a forum within you niche you want to check the following:
- The size of the forum. You what a forum that has a fair size before considering writing on it. A minimum of 100 posts could be a rule of thumb.
- Is the forum active? See if there are any daily postings on the forum.
- Is it allowed to ad links in posts? Check if you can leave a link in the posts back to your website.
- Links in profile or signature. Check if links in your forum profile or signature are allowed.
If you can only checkmark a few of the above, you should consider if it is worth your time to leaving answers or posts on the forum. An exception from the above guidelines could be if the forum has a lot of users that can become potential visitors on your site. If this is the case, writing on the forum can be a way to build relationships and authority for your site.
When you decide to participate on a forum, it is important that you do not spam posts with backlinks to you site without delivering quality content. A way to go is to look for posts, where people are looking for answers on a given problem, within your area of experience.
Give a quality answer and say that they can find more information about the topic in an article on your site, and then link back to it (with a link on the article name for example).
Another way to go about writing on forums is to write an original post where you give a solution on a given topic that a lot of people have asked questions about.
3. Become a guest poster
Writing guest posts is a good way to build quality links and authority. Find blogs within your niche that gives the opportunity for guest posts. Take a look around the blog to see the way posts are written and what topics have been touched upon.
Now you need to think of a topic that has not been written about on the blog. This is your chance to show people that you are an expert within your area and thereby gain their trust. When writing your article it is evident that the things your writhe will not be a sales speech about your own blog. Therefore choose a topic that you know something about (or research a topic) and write your article as objective as you can, without mentioning that your blog also have related topics.
Usually you are allowed to get some links in an about the author box in exchange for a good quality article.
4. Give something valuable away
It can also be worth going after “natural links” that are created by ordinary people. But links do not come by them self. You need to have content, which is actually worth talking about, and recommending to others.
Examples could be:
- A guide
- An eBook
- A video
- A podcast