Even now, in 2014, links are one of the biggest SEO factors, and by far one of the most important indicators of quality. It’s not enough to have quality content on your own; you need the community at large to give you their votes of confidence. Only then will you succeed where others fail and become a powerhouse in search.
How can you build backlinks without falling afoul of the strict rules Google has put into place to regulate them? How can you keep on the right side of the line, while doing everything you can to grow your position?
There are a number of black hat techniques, from link wheels and pyramids to purchased links, that circulate widely. Make no mistake; they are often quite effective, despite the warnings against using them. The problem comes later. You’ll get an initial boost to your search traffic, but that boost will be short-lived. After a few days or weeks, Google will notice, and they will penalize those links and your site.
Your ranking will drop, possibly lower than where it had been before, and you will be forced to deal with a penalty. You can invest in those black hat links again, and repeat the cycle, but in the end you have no long-term growth. That’s the problem with black hat techniques; the effects they have are never lasing.
Every link has a starting point and an ending point. The starting point is the industry-related authority site you’re targeting. The end point is a page on your site. While you’re focusing on the starting point, you can’t neglect the end point. You need high quality content on your site as a destination for readers and website owners. They won’t want to link to your site if you’re not providing something of value for them to link to, after all.
This means spending a great deal of time identifying the content people want to see and writing that content. In part, you can curate some content, but you can’t rely entirely on curation if you want to use many of these other techniques. Often, the webmaster will just trace the content to its original source and link to them instead.
One reasonable way to create content is to look at your industry and identify the content that already exists and is doing well. If someone wrote a popular top 10 list post, you can write a top 20 list post including – or refuting – their choices, and including more of your own. Adopt the idea that anything they can do, you can do better.
Once you have content published, one good way you can begin to create backlinks is by notifying other bloggers. You can do this in a few ways.
The common theme between these options is to notify other content creators that you have created content they may be interested in reading, referencing or responding to on their sites.
This is a bit more direct as a method for gaining the attention of other content creators. It is, however, much more targeted than the widespread mailing list or social media options. Specifically, you need to reference the content posted by other bloggers. When you reference that content, typically in a favorable light, you link to them.
As you should know from your own site, linking to a site stands out. The site owner, when they next check their analytics, will see traffic coming in from this new source. They will investigate your content and will see that you mentioned them favorably.
Unfortunately, this does not directly earn you a backlink. Instead, it puts you in the minds of the content creators you mention. If they like your content, they may explore more. If they find some inspiration, they may then reference your site on their blogs. This gives you the backlink you wanted, and the potential for more in the future.
Google is slowly starting to dislike guest posting, but they aren’t taking many steps to banish it just yet. They are warning everyone to scale back on guest posting. Guest posts should only be used when there is a personal relationship between bloggers and the links that are included are legitimate signs of trust. Thankfully, you can simulate this relationship by creating high quality content for your guest blogs.
Every industry has its share of communities. Web forums, subreddits, LinkedIn groups, Twitter hashtags; they’re all places where industry thought leaders, veterans and hobbyists gather to discuss the industry and trends. Make yourself a part of these communities. Don’t go in guns blazing and posting links to your content; it won’t work. Instead, respond to discussions and show your insight. Only once you’re a part of the community can you recognize when good opportunities to post your links come up.
Social media is valuable for link building in the opposite sense as targeting content creators. Instead of linking to individual blogs and gaining their attention for a long-term benefit, you’re putting your link in front of hundreds or thousands of readers. Some of those readers will share your post, which puts it in front of even more. The more people share it, the more people see it. As this audience swells, people are going to see it who may have blogs of their own. It’s untargeted, but it’s an organic way to grow backlinks.
The moving man method is a way to build links that involves links that already exist. Essentially, the starting point is already there, but the ending point has moved. Your goal is to insert yourself into that endpoint. How? Just notify those starting points of their broken link and point them in the direction of your content.
This method relies on you having content that serves as a valuable replacement to the link that has since disappeared. If your content isn’t a good fit, the original creator won’t link to you, they’ll just remove the link and call it good. That’s why it pays to have a valuable stash of quality content on your site.
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