SEO best practices – Link Building

In this article we will look at link building. What is link building and why it is important? We look at 5 main link building strategies and 5 major does and don’ts for this year.

What is Link Building?

Link building refers to the process of getting external websites and web pages to link to your website or a page on your website. This is one of the many tactics used in search engine optimization.

Why link building is important?

Link building is important because it is still major factor in how Google will rank your website and web pages. In 2013 the emphasis is on quality. According to Google, website administrators can improve the rank of their websites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to them.

5 typical and valid link building strategies 

1) Get your customers to link to you

If you have partners or customers that you work with regularly that love your brand or company, you can use this to your advantage by sending out partnership badges - graphic icons that link back to your site. Alternatively you can ask them if a simple link, with the right anchor text, can be placed on their website.   

Just as firms get customers wearing t-shirts with your company’s name on, links are the best way to accomplish the same feat on the web.

2) Build a company blog. Lets make it a valuable, informative and entertaining resource.

This content and link building strategy is so popular and valuable that it's one of the few recommended personally by the engineers at Google. Blogs have the unique ability to contribute fresh material on a consistent basis, participate in conversations across the web, and earn listings and links from other blogs, including blogrolls and blog directories.

3) Create content that inspires viral sharing and natural linking

In the SEO world, this is called "linkbait." A good example of this is Compare the Meerkat, Each leverages aspects of usefulness, information dissemination, or humour to create a viral effect - users who see it once want to share it with friends, and bloggers/tech-savvy webmasters who see it will often do so through links. This high quality, editorially earned votes are invaluable to building trust, authority, and rankings potential

4) Be Newsworthy.

Earning the attention of the press, bloggers and news media is an effective, time honoured way to earn links. Sometimes this is as simple as giving away something for free such as a free e-book, releasing a great new product, or stating something controversial.

5) Find directories or listings of relevant resources.

For example, try searching for forums and directory related to the subject you and your company are based. If your company is an electrical supplier or service then typical forums and customer forums may be the place to get links from.

A word of caution: links that are easy to get often carry risks when pursued aggressively and in volume. A diverse, well rounded link profile is always best.

Link building in 2013 – 5 major Does and Don’t’s

Google say “you're more likely to have your content rank higher for keywords you're targeting if you can get external websites to link to you.”

While this is true, from 2013 and in the years to come link building must be done with care. After the notorious Penguin and Panda updates of 2012 and more updates to come more, you must really check where your links are coming from and where to get links from.

1) Do regularly check your back links

This is important because back links, while important and crucial, could flagged as unnatural if they feature any of the following characteristics 

SEO Spyglass, part of SEO Power Suite, is one such tool that provides both paid and free tools to analyse your back links.

2) Do regularly check your back link anchor text

Do not engage in stuffing anchor texts with keywords in order to game the search engines.
It is a risky activity and there is no point to it. There is no 100% correct formula for writing anchor text but the more natural it looks the better.

Do not write back links with promotional anchor texts and commercial keywords. Such things can bring you on the radar for Google close examination.

Do use either of the following types of anchor

Again SEO Spyglass, part of SEO Power Suite is one such tool that can analyse your back link anchor text.   

3) Do get back links from socially popular domains

Search engines from 2013 onwards may rely more on the amount and strength of social signals – tweets and retweets, Facebook likes, shares, mentions, etc.

Do analyse both your own and rivals social networks, blog and forums to see which are the most popular. 

4) Do analyse your competitors and rivals back link strategy

Some typical things to discover about your top competitors are:

a) What anchors and keywords they are using?
b) Do they still acquire site wide links?
c) Are they leveraging social media to rank better than you?
d) Do they have most back links from old or new domains?

3 major things to watch for:

Anchor Text Distribution

You may also need to have more anchor text with brand names and less with exact match keywords. You may also need to have more links pointing to internal pages of your site rather than the home page.

Social Media

If your competitors are more active in social media, produce more viral content, start social media campaigns, launch contests – do virtually everything you can to grab more tweets and likes.

Back link Domains

Take a closer look at their back link domains, spot the good ones (relevant content, old established domain with high Alexa traffic index) and target them to get links.

5) Do check to see if your back links get clicked on?

Search engines are likely to learn more about the user behaviour on various domains.
If many of your back links are not clicked on by real visitors, that will send up a red flag to Google regarding your website, since it implies these back links seem to be irrelevant, not interesting, and useless as far as visitors are concerned.

Do use tools like Google Analytics to analyse your website to see which links bring in visitors. Also see what your competition is doing too.

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