3 Fundamental Link Building Strategies
There are hundreds of very specific ways to procure links, but in the end there are just three fundamental strategies you need to know about in order to build a fruitful network of links.
You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to content creation. Content can take many different forms, such as articles, videos, webinars, infographics, printable resources and more.
For example, guest posts are a popular and effective way of securing quality links. Here’s a basic rundown of how you could go about it:
If you build the relationship right and don’t come across as totally self-serving, people will be keen to work with you again in the future.
On the other hand, you could create and host resources on your site, rather than on someone else’s. If the resources are truly helpful, people will be inclined to share them and link to them. Resources might include how-to videos, lists and detailed resource round-ups, or even widgets and browser add-ons. Be prepared to promote your resources or tools in order to get the word out initially.
Social media profiles generally provide an area where you can link to your website. Take advantage of this. Think outside the box too; there are plenty of online communities that cater to specific industries. You are not limited to Twitter, Facebook, G+ and the like.
In a similar vein, whenever you comment on a blog, there are certain fields that are required: your name and your email address. Sometimes there is an optional field for your website URL as well. Take advantage of this and post comments on blogs. However, do not spam. Make a meaningful contribution to the blog with your comments. Don’t just say, “Nice blog.” Remember, you are building relationships at the same time that you are building links! Get to know industry bloggers, and be prepared to give a link to their site if you ask them to link to yours.
Participate in Q&A communities like Quora, Yahoo! Answers or Reddit. Generally, you cannot link out to your site just for the sake of it, but you can if the link is relevant. Focus on answering industry questions. Doing so will not only establish you as an authority and a thought leader, but also net you some important links as well. Be sure you have a genuinely useful library of resources on your site in order to make the most of this. Even blog posts that address the same topic are exceedingly useful.
Find forums to get involved in. Try to become a trusted, respected and knowledgeable member of these close-knit communities before you begin to link out to your site. In forum settings, building a rapport with other members is particularly important; your advice will be discounted if it is clear you are just there to promote your product or service.
Some websites have resource pages, and you can ask to be included on these. Some common, well-known online directories include: the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Google’s My Business and the Yellow Pages.
Note that .gov and .edu websites have a lot of clout within Google’s algorithm, so securing a link on these sites is quite advantageous. If you are a government contractor, you have a great chance of being included on your municipality’s resource page, for example. The same is true if you are an alumnus of a local university and would like your business to be included in their alumni directory.
There are certainly bound to be niche-specific or location-specific directories that you can join, some of which may require a fee.
Are you a member of an organization or a sponsor for a non-profit? Ask that they include a link to your site somewhere on theirs.
Do you know other website owners? Ask to be included on their resource or “Helpful Links” page. When making a direct, personal request, always be prepared to reciprocate.
Bonus Tactic: The Helping Hand
A new trend in link building is to point out broken links on sites, and suggest an alternative link for webmasters to use. And you guessed it … the alternative link will be to your site!
You can also provide free services—such as closed captioning, translations or rewrites of outdated content—in the hopes of receiving attribution and a link back to your site. And while such a link is never guaranteed, it is highly likely. After all, it’s the least a grateful webmaster could do for you in return for adding value to their site.
Bonus Tactic: Paid Opportunities
Tread carefully here, since Google may punish websites for paid links. However, there are other “white hat” opportunities that simply involve a little bit of money up front. For example, one way to potentially receive a coveted .edu link is to offer a scholarship. It doesn’t need to be a full ride; $1,000 is a nice amount. Once you get the word out to universities and high schools, they should add your scholarship (and a link to your website) to their main list of scholarships.
Another option is to sponsor a local club or charity. Most fundraisers or capital campaigns include perks based on how much money you give. One of those perks might be a link on their website. And if such a perk is not listed outright, you can always ask about it. The fundraising coordinators may have never thought of offering it, and it is such a low-cost request that most will be happy to oblige.
Don’t Forget to Create a Network of Internal Links!
The links we have been discussing thus far are called external backlinks. This means that a site other than your own (an “external” site) has links that lead to your site (known as “backlinks” or, for the sake of simplicity, just “links”).
Another type of link is an internal link. This is a link that appears on your own website and leads to another page on your website. Building your network of internal links is just as important as building a network of external backlinks. Internal links improve site navigation for your visitors, and they also signal to Google which pages are most important on the site. When paired with a smart anchor text strategy, internal linking becomes even more valuable in terms of SEO.
We’ll discuss this more in-depth in the section “Choosing Optimal Anchor Text.” For now, just keep in mind that internal links need attention too. The good news is that you are in full control of your internal linking, and can thus take care of it quickly and efficiently.