So you have created a great piece of link baiting content that your visitors will naturally want to read and share across their social media channels thereby creating backlinks. If that is the case, then don’t worry about link building as it will be achieved naturally through your content’s popularity. In reality however 99.9% of small businesses are not going to create a viral piece of content that gets millions of views and thousands of shares in the space of a few days. Therefore, we have to help boost what modest content we have created by outreaching to an appropriate audience, influencers and content sharers to create those backlink opportunities which will help with our website’s popularity in the long run.
As best practice, the backlinks you are hoping to create should come from quality sources which have topical, contextual relevance as well as high domain authority. The best backlinks therefore are ones that you do not create yourself but where others have linked to your content because they have found value in what they have read or watched. Google nowadays pays less attention to the actual anchor link and more attention to the content that is being linked to.
Here are three popular and modern ways to build links:
- Analysing Your Competitors’ Links
- Reaching Out to Influencers
- Replacing Broken Links to Content with Your Own
Analysing Your Competitors’ Links
They say copying is the biggest form of flattery and so checking up on who, where and how your competitors are getting their backlinks is a great way to reverse engineer you own link building strategy whilst at the same time keep a close eye on your competitor’s digital marketing activities. If you evaluate the quality of the pages being linked from and discover that those links are from strong authoritative sources, whilst also having topical relevance to your own website’s content, then they have done all the hard work for you in identifying possible backlink opportunities. Why feel the need to reinvent the wheel by doing it yourself from scratch? Find out what type of content or webpage your competitor is getting the most backlinks to, be it products, pages, reviews, articles, images, citations etc and consider producing that sort of content yourself. Once you’re ready, carry out one to one outreach with your competitor’s linking resource (if appropriate). Remember to do this backlink monitoring activity at regular scheduled intervals during your strategy so you keep on top of any new backlink opportunities that they have discovered but also that you aren’t left behind if your competitors are focusing heavily on backlinking.
Reaching Out to Influencers
Social media is a great way to find those potential influencers within your industry that have a growing follower base on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. From there start making a list of influencers you want to approach then begin to follow, link and share the content they post on their profiles to build up a base form of interaction as a courtesy before you present your request. Be prepared as it will take a while, weeks perhaps to build up a strong list and develop that level of interaction where you can then approach that influencer. Personalisation is the key when it comes to hunting down influencers to help share your content so sending out mass emails with a generic message in order to target them is definitely the wrong way to go.
Influencer marketing is obviously not limited to social media, although it is a great way to identify other platforms they use or other influencers they engage with. Expand out and consider looking for blogs, press releases and podcasts on other platforms where you can interact with them on a progressive scale.
Replacing Broken Links to Content with Your Own
Broken backlinking works really well as it is effective, authentic and a scalable link building tactic that is also very white-hat. The simple idea being you are looking for broken links from long standing high domain authority websites that have dead pages or broken links to content of similar or significant relevance to your own website’s content. Through one to one outreach you offer those webmasters a replacement for that broken link with similar content on your own website. However, you only benefit if the content you can offer is of value to those webmasters and is the same or better than the content that was linked to before. More than ever in today’s digital industry, upholding brand value is important through online partnership or in this case linking to and from other websites. Be prepared to be turned away if you have found a broken link on a popular or large website which holds strong values in branding and customer retention. You should therefore be realistic about your time and effort you spend approaching webmasters of these large branded sites. However as the saying goes, nothing ventured nothing gained.
The process of finding these broken backlinks is fairly simple. Start by searching Google for keywords similar to your own content and extract the links from the web pages you find which bear relevance. Then see which of those links are broken, no longer exist, have a redirect to a non-relevant page or simply return a 404. The most efficient way to find these broken links on the pages you find is through any popular off the shelf webpage auditor.
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Where Should You Start?
As with any marketing activity, your first task is to create an implementation strategy for your link building campaign with some SMART goals as an outcome. One downside to link building though is that it is one of the most difficult activities to measure. Google and other search engines keep their formula for judging pages and links close to their chest. However, there are a number of popular signals and questions from which you can ask yourself to help determine if building links from other domains will be of benefit, such as:
- Title Tag – does the linking page’s title tag have relevance to your title tag?
- Page Content – does the linking page’s content have relevance to your topic?
- Moz Rank – does the page have a high MozRank score?
- Domain Authority – does the linking domain have a high domain authority?
- Number of Links – does the page have a minimum amount of other external links?
- Referral Traffic – does the domain have a high amount of direct click through traffic?
The best place to start building your strategy is within a spreadsheet with each of the above link metrics attributed to each backlink opportunity you have identified. Other aspects of your spreadsheet should highlight: date, linking domain, contact details for the opportunity and approach method (outreach, broadcasting, paid). As your list grows you can reflect on what linking domains, pages and approach methods have worked best for you by analysing your keyword rankings on a regular basis and marrying up the activities with the results within certain time periods.
Discouraged Link Building
One hard and fast rule to remember when it comes to link building is to avoid the temptation of paying for links as a direct method of improving organic rankings. These are obviously un-natural links yet can still have an influence on the organic search results as the only difference is money or goods have exchanged hands offline. However, this is an activity which is publicly known to be discouraged by the search engines to the point where popular websites and blogs that have received payment for backlinks have been stripped from the rankings. The likes of Google continue to throw resources into finding new ways to detect paid and other un-natural links that exist purely to influence the organic rankings.
However, don’t confuse paid links for the purpose of link building and organic search influence with paid amplification or sponsored links as mentioned in my previous article on carrying out targeted backlinking. Sponsored links exist as a means of driving targeted referral traffic to the content you want them to find and then link to or share on their own terms. Usually paid links in adverts or anchor link text have a rel=nofollow tag within the page’s HTML which highlights to the search engines that they should not pass link equity to the linking website. The majority of websites that offer and sell advertising internally rather than through an ad platform should also be making it clear that the link is sponsored as a means of emphasising this.
If you like what you have read and want to discuss link building further, talk to us now.