Despite its ebbs and flows over the years caused by the increasing involvement of search engines, link building is still an effective off-page SEO strategy that can improve your site’s search rankings.
If you’re unfamiliar with link building (or creating back links), it’s simply the process of populating other spaces on the web with links that direct back to your website or page. The quantity and quality of those links then become a contributing factor in determining where your site ranks on a SERP. (Search Engine Results Page)
Backlinks are separated into two categories:
DoFollow Links are backlinks that will attribute merit to your site on a search engine results page (SERP), meaning they’ll have an impact on your site’s SEO.
NoFollow Links are back links that will have little to no SEO impact on the content their linking to because they don’t issue any merit.
Search engine algorithms like Google’s Penguin will reward you for having dofollow back links placed on reputable sites, but they will also penalize you if you’re spamming links in unrelated digital spaces, or if you’re using disingenuous techniques. Therefore, it’s important to do some adequate research that will help you devise a clear back linking plan rather than tossing out links haphazardly anywhere you can. At one time, the latter was a can’t miss approach for improving SEO, but Google’s continual dedication to optimizing search results means affiliates have had to evolve their link building methods.
This post will give you a foundation of knowledge of some link building techniques that are still relevant in 2018, and that won’t get you in trouble from search engines. From there, you can devise and execute your own link building strategy as part of your site’s overall SEO initiatives.
Find Your Path
So you want to up your link building game but you’re asking yourself, “Where do I start?”. The first thing we’d suggest doing is using a link checking tool to gather some valuable information that will help you moving forward.
A tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer will allow you to input any website URL and immediately discover every other site it’s receiving backlinks from.
Doing this will allow you to see the entire backlink profile of a competitor within the same niche as yours. The sites and locations of their links can reveal what strategies they’ve been using to increase their own back links, which can provide you with some welcomed inspiration.
For example, if you operate a fitness blog, find another fitness related affiliate site that you think is better than your own and input its URL into Open Site Explorer. You’ll discover other websites and digital spaces that you can use for your own links.
This specific tool will even provide you with social and contact info related to the sites featuring those backlinks, allowing you to easily reach out to site owners about your own potential link building opportunities.
Utilizing Web 2.0
If Web 2.0 sites continue to function by having users generate most of their content, they’ll continue to be an effective way to create backlinks. This presents an opportunity for you to populate these sites with links to your own with relative ease because you’re in full control of their creation.
Generally, these sites already hold significant weight with search engines, so you’re automatically ensuring your links are associated with a reputable space.
Common Web 2.0 sites include:
- WordPress and BlogSpot
- Social media platforms
You should be setting up basic profiles on these pages that include links back to your site. This alone can have a positive impact on your site’s SEO. Just make sure to only choose platforms that you plan on posting content on in the future.
It can be tempting to then spam these sites with link-filled content that has little to no value, but that’s not going to achieve what you’re hoping.
A decade ago this may have been a viable option, but algorithms have since evolved and you can be penalized for disingenuous content that’s blatantly being created for the purpose of backlinks.
What’s going to be more effective is creating actual content that will interest users. For example, sharing recipes on Instagram if your site is in the cooking niche, or posting weightlifting tip videos on YouTube if you own a muscle building blog.
Put in the work and provide users with real content.
You’ll also always have full access to any back links created on Web 2.0 sites. You may think you’d never want to do that, but there are instances where you’ll want to experiment with different anchor text (which we’ll discuss more shortly) to see which provides better results.
Search engines like Google also frequently alter their algorithms, so an approach that worked well in the past can become ineffective without much notice. This can make you feel the need to alter your anchor text.
Creating content that people want to share is one of the best ways to extend your brand. When you attach links to that shareable content, you create a situation where backlinks to your site are being created organically.
Infographics are the epitome of shareable content because they present information in such an easily digestible format. Visual content simply holds our interest better because our brains find it more attractive.
Using infographics as an effective link building strategy can be broken down into four necessary tasks:
To determine what it is you want your infographic to communicate, you’ll need to do some research within your niche to figure out a topic or theme that’s going to resonate with others.
Some common themes that can work well in any niche are:
- Sales trends
- Demographic information
- Timeline based statistics or growth
- Visual rankings (top 5, top 10, etc.)
2. Collect Data
Once you’ve decided on the message your infographic will communicate, you’ll need to compile all relevant statistics that the graphic will present. You’ll want to ensure that the numbers you’re using are accurate, and that they can easily be represented in a visual manner.
This information will determine how valuable your graphic is in the eyes of others. The more surprising or interesting this data is, the greater likelihood it’s going to be shared.
3. Design Graphics
You don’t need to be a Photoshop expert to utilize infographics as a link building strategy.
Services like Fiverr will allow you to inexpensively outsource design work, or you can try designing your own graphics with the help of an online infographic maker like Canva.
This is also where you’ll decide what style of visual elements you’ll be using to represent your statistics. This is more important than it may sound because it’s going to have a significant impact on the overall tone of your infographic.
If you want to remain serious and business oriented, you can use pie and bar graphs. If you want it to be a little more fun and light hearted, you can use niche related icons. (ie. a silhouette of a dog to present demographic information on pet food consumers if you run a pet food blog)
4. Post Infographics/Outreach
Once you’ve completed your graphic and you’re happy with the result, you can start publishing it in various spaces to try and attract shares and backlinks.
In addition to your own site and posts, some of the Web 2.0 sites we mentioned earlier work as great avenues for visual content.
You can also do some outreach to other blogs or influencers on social media to see if they’d be willing to share your infographic. Just make sure they’re linking to your site when they do so that you’re obtaining the backlinks you desire.
The Importance of Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text that represents the URL of any link. It plays an integral part in any link building strategy because it provides search engine algorithms with information on your site/page – something they’ll use to determine it’s rank on a SERP.
Some of the most commonly used anchors are:
Exact Match: This means the anchor text is exactly the keyword or phrase you’re trying to rank for on Google. An example exact match anchor text for this post would be “backlinking”
Partial Match: Like an exact match anchor, it contains a keyword, but this type of anchor also has additional unrelated words added. (ie. “backlinking for affiliates”)
Brand Anchor Text: Branded anchors are any link text that uses the brand name of your site or business. (ie. MaxBounty)
Generic Anchor Text: Also known as call-to-action text, these anchors feature a short phrase directing the user to do something. (ie. Click here for more, Go now!)
When deciding which type of anchor text to use for your links, the most important thing to remember is you need to limit the amount of exact match or partial match anchors you use.
If Google’s Penguin recognizes that all your links are trying to rank your site for specific keywords, then you could be penalized. If you are able to create a large quantity of links with a variety of anchors, then you should throw in a few Exact Match anchors. (Think 1-2%)
A diverse collection of anchor text styles consisting mostly of branded or naked anchor text is usually the ideal ratio. This is something that you can experiment with to see what works best for your specific content.
Broken Link Reporting
There are countless sites that unknowingly feature links to pages that are broken or no longer exist. Any owner or webmaster of a website won’t want these links on their site that direct nowhere because it can negatively affect their own site’s SEO, and it hurts the user experience.
This is where you come in.
Your goal is to find broken links that are supposed to be directing to a site within the same niche as yours. Through outreach initiatives, you can aim to have those links changed so that they direct to your own site rather than a competitor.
This is undoubtedly a time-consuming strategy, but it’s also still one of the most effective ways to acquire quality backlinks. Its so scalable once you discover an effective method that you can continue to use it to improve your site’s SEO over a long period of time.
As an example, let’s say you manage a pet nutrition blog to promote MaxBounty offers. You can browse the web for sites or articles that may have featured sites similar to yours in some capacity, like a site that aggregates reviews of pet food. You can then check to see if that site contains any broken links directing to reviews of products that you’ve reviewed on your own site.
To find these broken link opportunities, you’re going to need to use a tool like Chrome’s Check My Links WebApp.
This app will take any web page and crawl it for broken links while providing you with URLs for each one.
Once you’ve found a broken link that features content that you think your own could replace, you’ll need to reach out to the author or webmaster of the site.
Although this type of cold out-reach may seem futile, you need to remember that you are providing the webmaster with a service by making them aware of a broken link on their site. As we mentioned earlier, they’ll be happy that you informed them of this.
The more experience you gain with this strategy, the smoother the process will become. You’ll familiarize yourself with specific tools that will aid in finding links, and you’ll have developed communication techniques that improve response rates from webmasters.
There are plenty of other methods and techniques for building effective back links that can improve your site’s SEO and search ranking, but what we’ve provided you with are some of the most effective ways to do so while also keeping you on Google’s good side.
Not every method is going to work for every site, so it’s important to continue to expand your knowledge on the subject to ensure you know how to implement multiple link building strategies. This allows you to experiment until you discover what works best for your site and niche.