A definitive SEO guide to building top quality links to your website
It is an inescapable reality that the Penguin algorithms’ introduction into the search marketing world two years ago has changed the digital landscape forever, stringently binding renegade webmasters to a strict code of conduct and spelling potential doom for the era of black-hat unruliness.
This is because the Penguin programme has become the de facto chief of police of the SEM and digital marketing landscape, prolifically imposing ranking penalties on any website which is found guilty of breaching their webmaster guidelines. Whilst spammers managed to make millions in the opening decade of this millennium by using black-hat techniques to get to the top, the truth is that doing so in today’s search world is significantly harder and more importantly, substantially riskier.
The key to success today is now built around the virtues of relevancy and quality, with the best marketers enshrining these values into the day-to-day operation of their businesses in order to attain levels of organic traction unthinkable for those from the ‘cowboy’ era of marketing.
The fact of the matter is that if you desire to top the search rankings for your industry-specific keywords and enjoy the lion’s share of business from your sector, then you need to be producing quality content for your audience on a frequent basis in order to convey the impression of authority and expertise to the Google algorithm.
And with this actuality comes the truth that the shape of your content strategy and the manner in which you expose your work is more important than ever to making it in the digital marketing world and reaching the upper echelons of your industry. Simply put: quality content which is well exposed is a sure-fire way of acquiring organic links which signify a legitimate show of approval from your target audience. The more of these you produce, the more links you get, the higher you rank. It’s that easy.
Nonetheless, that content marketers ought to exclusively share their content on their own page, so as to ensure they alone receive the kind of profile-raising coverage that organically yields exponentially growing numbers of leads and greater ROI is, however, a myth. Although the principle behind this perspective is undoubtedly valid, sharing is caring, and what you give back to the online community, you will get back ten-fold.
In this article we’ll identify some white-hat, Penguin-proof techniques and strategies you can deploy in order to build quality links to your website, so you can take your SEO practice to a new level and begin occupying the search ranking positions that you achieve, and will ultimately deserve.
Strategies to avoid
There was a time when the following were common techniques that were extensively utilised by members of the digital marketing community, but nowadays they are defunct, ineffectual and potential harmful to your ranking prospects. I advise you to dismiss these from your practice if they’re currently in deployment, because you are putting yourself at risk of being penalised by one of Google’s sinister animal algorithms.
- Submitting your website or its blog into automated internet directories
- Large scaling email requests to other webmasters requesting the establishment of mutual link exchanges.
- Participating in link-building schemes which involve purchasing and flogging off links on high-authority websites
- Overdoing the amount of content you market each day and loading up your PR strategy with keyword-in-anchor text techniques
These strategies are almost archaic nowadays and you should remember that they will put you at risk of being damaged by Google by adopting them into your marketing strategy. Gone is the era of link-buying and “link building” as it once was – today’s SEO landscape is characterised by the all-new doctrine of ‘link earning’.
Become a guest blogger
The art of guest blogging has received a lot of negative publicity over the past few months after Google’s head of Webspam – Matt Cutts – emphatically announced: “stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done”.
Naturally this sent SEO’s and webmasters worldwide into a state of frenzy and panic, with a huge furore stirred up in marketing circles where people were genuinely scared of losing all their SEO inroads from their involvement in the practice of guest blogging.
However, I argue that rumours of the demise of guest blogging have been greatly embellished and would like to put forward a somewhat contentious and contrary point: Guest blogging still has huge link building value.
Yes, guest-blogging as a rank-enhancement technique is dead, likely finished forever. But this doesn’t mean that guest blogging cannot be used in order to boost the profile of your brand, enhance your image and credibility and assume a leading role in your industry over the shape of discussion and ideas.
However, while guest blogging solely as a means of improving rankings is a thing of the past, using guest blogging as a way to build authority, credibility and thought leadership is still be an extremely effective strategy.
The key here is to optimise the manner in which you guest blog, and who you choose to do your posts for. It is imperative that you only establish partnerships with websites that have high authority and rankings, because these are superior forums to build your standing and acquire re-directed traffic to your website. You should also remember that quality material is a vital component to your success and you should only release articles that you believe evocatively engage readers and provide real value to their day-to-day lives.
Doing this properly over an extended period will see your brand and your own content exposed to huge groups of people who will hopefully interact with your posts, share them on and produce links for your pages in the most organic way possible. Yes, you will initially have to live off mentions of your brand and some implied links when guest blogging, but in the long-term you could generate a buzz by ‘earning’ your links and convincing people your work is share worthy through the most legitimate channel possible – quality.
An infographic we featured earlier about social media campaigns – how to make your social media campaign flourish
The common cliché: “A picture tells a thousand words” never rings truer than in the marketing world, where infographics provide businesses with a huge opportunity to bolster their reputation and acquire links through material which is intrinsically more attractive to viewers than text-filled documentation.
Too often, I’ve seen businesses miss out on attaining the levels of early traction that they should be with their content marketing campaigns because they are overly concerned with what their audience will think about the quality of their work. A number of my clients have told me whilst I conducted their initial SEO site audit that they had opted to not use infographics because they didn’t feel they had the graphic design or writing skills to produce an aesthetically appealing piece of work which would provide real value to their work. And each time these sentiments have been shared with me, I have responded with the same answer: “You simply cannot afford to not incorporate infographics into your marketing campaign”
I will endorse this perspective to the grave, because successful infographics campaigns have huge long-term brand benefits, particularly if they catch on like fire and go viral. Every time that a new person views or engages with your infographics, you are enhancing the profile of your brand. Moreover, you are raising the credibility and reputation of your business by conveying to audiences that you are prepared to produce free material for their benefit which adheres to the key SEO virtues of relevancy and quality. The more infographics you produce, the more aware people will be over your brand, and this will inevitably raise your prospects of attaining quality links from sources all over the internet.
When you factor in that infographics also have a higher chance of going viral than written content, you can clearly see that they have huge link building value.
The fact that every infographics release gives you the chance to go viral is sufficient reason enough to incorporate them into your SEO link building campaigns, because a single success in achieving this feat will spell a link bonanza for your website and a meteoric ascension up the search rankings. In the modern era of link earning – rather than link building – there is no more legitimate and credible way of adhering to this doctrine than truly earning your links through the altruistic and intelligent production of high quality infographics that capture audiences by simply giving them something for nothing.
The reality is that even if you do not have an in-house content writer or a graphic designer, this doesn’t mean that you can’t design and market regular branded infographics; you simply have to be prepared to outsource the work efficiently and have a clear idea of what material you want to cover and which type of content invokes the highest volume of interaction from your target audience. For example, you could decide to use a contract designer from an organisation such as Elance for under £100 – a sound investment considering the number of links and level of brand enhancement that you stand to attain from producing top quality infographics. You could also opt to use an independent infographics company such as http://killerinfographics.com/ or www.columnfivemedia.com to produce infographics for your business, allowing you to focus on the SEO aspect of your infographics, such as which keywords you want to target and how you will go about marketing the work to attain maximal exposure.
An article detailing the most expensive items sold on eBay
I’ve touched on the idea of link earning already, and the production of high quality site content on a regular basis is an essential requirement to link building success in today’s edition of the marketing world. High quality, original material that is released on a daily basis is arguably the best way to acquire links organically, because doing so provides Google with the impression that your brand is willing to take on the role of thought-leader in your industry and has the authority and intent to warrant a higher ranking.
If you are an SEO, then I highly recommend hiring an in-house content writer or getting some reliable external writers on board, because you want to be focusing your time on devising strategy, rather than watering down your campaign efficiency by writing, sharing and remarketing your material. Essentially, you want to be concentrating on whom to target your work towards, how to go about getting it the highest amount of exposure possible and which techniques to utilise in order to ensure that it attains the highest engagement volume possible. Your writer (s) can then focus on doing what they do best – producing high quality, valuable work – and you can work on getting it the coverage it deserves. And this cohesiveness will eventually lead to an efficient system of production and release that brings in regular links, on a daily basis, in the most organic way possible.
For more information on this area, I recommend checking out our featured piece on SEO’s and content writers working in tandem for optimal results: https://jseo.com/featured/seos-stay-away-content-creation-focus-perceptive-delegation/.
Remember to keep the following in mind when formulating your content strategy for the future:
Your content should be relevant and useful for your audience, naturally encouraging them to share your work and engage with it by making it valuable to them
- Always check your works spelling and ensure that your grammar is utilised properly
- Try and take an alternative stance or angle to the topic you are covering than other people who have contributed to its discussion
- Include useful links to other websites which you believe will further benefit your readers for the area you are covering
- Attach images to your articles and produce original graphics to supplement the effectiveness of your pieces
- Try and create great ‘how-to-guides’ for the benefit of your audience and attach informational videos which guide the reader through the area you are discussing
- Consider trying to get your material syndicated. This means attempting to have your content published on an external website with identical wording to the piece on your own domain. This can generate a multitude of high-quality links to your website and will expose your content to a wider audience – raising your chances of getting more site traffic. When using this technique, make sure that you only syndicate it on high quality, reputable sites that are likely to generate the right type of traffic for your business.
- Also, a handy trick is to utilise the rel=canonical tag on your content so Google recognises its originality.
Attempt an out-reach campaign
Establishing mutually beneficial relationships with members of the blogging community is a great technique to reach a new audience and acquire high quality links. Having links of your web pages on reputable blog forums will undoubtedly enhance the reputation of your site and improve its overall ranking. In order to conduct a blogger outreach campaign, I recommend doing the following:
- Devise a list of the people you want to connect with
- Conduct some research on which blogs related to your industry get the most traction and tend to rank out the highest
- Start trying to alert them of your brand and connect with them by interacting regularly with their blog posts and social media releases
- After doing all this, get into contact with them directly and enquire about whether they desire to establish a mutually beneficial link arrangement
A social media post by lego – an april fools joke
Social Media Marketing
Using social media channels to expose your work and encourage interaction with your material from your target audience is arguably the best way to ensure you picking up links from your quality content releases. As you accumulate more and more likes & shares, your work will begin to become more visible to your target audience and this opens the door to them linking back to it within their own work.
It is imperative you set up social media sharing buttons on your website and above your articles in order to make it easy for anyone who identifies with your article to spread the word to another party. Moreover, you should re-release your work regularly in order to ensure that you maximise its exposure and give it the best chance of obtaining a higher volume of links in the long-term.
In this article, we’ve determined that the SEO landscape of today is one which is characterised by long-term strategies, hard-work, and above all, a process of earning your right to take up the top spots in the search rankings.
No longer is link building about how well you can establish relationships with people for a link – it is now all about adhering to the virtues of quality and relevancy with all your marketing campaign branches in order to organically convince your audience that you genuinely deserve to be linked to. Regular content releases which are designed to actually engage and help your audience will greatly benefit your link building cause because when you think it about it theoretically, this is the type of work which should pick up links. That Google has changed their search engine algorithm to ensure this is now a reality is a great credit to them, and the search landscape is far more meritocratic now than it has ever been before.
By incorporating the techniques above into your own SEO campaign, I believe that you will be strongly positioned to take on your industry leaders – appealing to your audiences intrinsic desire to get something for nothing and simultaneously enhancing your reputation through the provision of useful material that proves, rather than exudes, your company’s capabilities and prowess.