There have been many times in the past when people have asked experts if “link building was dead or about to die”. However, to the surprise of many people link building lived on. Today too link building is not dead it has just changed.
This period of transition from old school link building to newer quality based link building has confused may people even a few industry experts. That said this article is meant to clear away some of the confusion you may have about the latest link building trend and what types of old school link building strategies are either dying or already dead.
Dead link building strategies
If the below link building strategies make up most of the link building you do then you need to change right now!
Mostly these arrangements are between webmasters or site managers who link to each other’s websites for mutual link juice benefit. 10 years ago this was one of the most popular types of link building but now it may even damage your website’s credibility. However, you can have a few relevant reciprocal links which are natural, for instance The New York times inadvertently links to many websites who may then link back to them but here there is no intended SEO benefit.
Directory Link Building
Today directory link building is nearly dead. While there may be some value to adding a few directory back links especially for a new site but you shouldn’t spend too much time or money on these types of links. If you do submit to directories make sure that they are within your niche.
Blog networks are often hundreds of blogs linked together. These blogs usually have thin or bad quality content which nobody ever reads. Google can identify these networks fairly easy and strip them from any page rank they may gain. This is why they are not worth participating in. If you want to engage in blogging make sure that you only deal with high quality blogs that have real people writing the posts.
This is also commonly referred to as comment spam. There are a number of blogs which are often abandoned by their publishers because either they get too busy or they just move on. Link builders use automated scripts which can search for these blogs, compile a list and leave comments with back links on them. This practice should be avoided because if anything it will hurt your current ranking and credibility.
You are certainly welcome to purchase links from other sites yet if you’re paying for these links you might as well pay for solid advertising. That said Google does not like websites that sell links to pass on their SEO link juice. Google Webmaster Guidelines states that links which are paid for should be no-follow links. Websites that engage in purchasing and selling links will be on Google’s radar and there are numerous instances of some high profile websites getting penalized. So, avoid purchasing links!
Press release links
When press releases are distributed there is a link to your website within it. This worked for a while and many webmasters took advantage of this for a long time and continue to do so. However, the result was that some businesses started sending out hundreds of poor press releases just for SEO. That said this is no longer working and so the only reason left to send out a press release is if there is something newsworthy.
Low quality guest posting
When it comes to building back links guest posting is still the best strategy. This system works because the site you’re posting your article gets much needed content and you in return get a back link which is obviously a fair exchange. That said not all guest posting opportunities are good or as good as they may seem. There are many blogs that are built to earn money from adsense. Google feels that such sites offer no real value and so we could see these sites being targeted in the near future. If anything always post to high quality blogs and post high quality content.
A few years back posting almost anything to article directories would earn you a back link, now this is outdated. While the idea still sounds great because article directories want content and you can write good content in exchange for a back link but the fact is that most directories are flooded with hundreds of low quality content submissions. This has led Google to seriously penalize article directories. As a result article directories like Ezinearticles.com have tightened up their policies to ensure that only high quality content gets posted.
Matching anchor text
It used to be an excellent idea to have an exactly keyword matching anchor text. This means that the more clickable anchor links you had the better would be your SEO for the phrase you are targeting. Now this practice should be avoided. You shouldn’t have more than two exactly matching anchor text.
Most small business owners have no idea where their back links come from or exactly what methods the company used to raise their ranking. Today, such ignorance can end up with dire consequences. You need to know exactly what is being done with your site. A good SEO company will update you on what is going on and why. Be careful of companies that keep their tactics secret.
What strategies you need to concentrate on?
We have done away with some well established strategies above while others have evolved to become a part of the latest link building strategies. Below we discuss what you should now focus on.
Your link building should yield more benefits than simply SEO
This requires that you shift the way you think about link building. Many people just think about link building for SEO but in this desperation they tend to ignore many other benefits including:
• High quality links continue to work
• Visitor click through
• Good links work as link magnets for more links
• Establishes you as an authority
• Good links will help you build relationships and make first contact
The most interesting thing about the non-SEO benefits mentioned above is that they will in fact help with SEO.
Strong social media presence
All businesses want to get close to their customers thanks to decades of common business thinking that hammered home this wisdom. To be able to attract customers and do business with them it is important that you listen, watch and talk to them. Social media allows you to do all three in a surprisingly easy manner. But it is not going to happen by accident it is important that you are active and respond to people on social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook etc. The more fans and followers you build the more you will understand what they want. This will help you create a strong base on which you can build your link building efforts. So, when experts say that link building has met its demise this is mainly because it has been replaced with a more efficient social media network.
Link building prospects
This is probably the hardest thing to do but remember that the harder it is to get a link the more value it will have and so the effort is certainly worth it. There are a number of advantages of getting back links from high quality websites:
• These websites have a large and active audience so more people will hear what you have to say
• The link should bring good SEO back link benefits
• Being present on a site like this will help to build trust and your reputation
• You can get the opportunity to run a regular guest post column
• You are forced to create quality content
When you republish this high quality on your own website you will not just earn bragging rights but also help you to earn a better reputation among visitors to your site which results in better conversions.
You should focus locally sometimes
Regardless, of if you are a large business with international trade routes or a small startup with local focus or focus on a particular geographic region you should be able to find some great opportunities locally. Many local journalists, colleges, schools, and bloggers etc will want to build a relationship with you and give you precious links.
The need to build relationships
Remember that people will give you links and not a computer. The idea should be to build relationships with the webmasters and owners of a website. A decade or so ago you would have to send out probably 500 emails requesting links back to your website to people you didn’t know and vice versa. With social media now you can build a solid relationship with a prospect prior to asking them for a link.
Create valuable content
If you want to thrive you have to create great content. This content can be packaged in a number of different ways i.e. infographics, ebooks, videos, training videos, webinars, and presentations. So, today’s link builder needs to be a team that has numerous communication skills to create excellent content on a consistent basis.
Internet public relations
This is the best way to acquire back links without having to ask for them. Many successful businessmen have known for decades that in order to get free yet comprehensive editorial coverage by the media they need to pitch properly. The web has changed this in a big way. Thanks to the internet you can find and quickly build a relationship with bloggers and journalists. Read news sites within your niche to get an idea of the stories they cover which you can use to promote our business. Then simply pitch to them!
Solid guest posting approach
If you are one of those people who writes one guest blog post and then fires them to 20 prospects then this is not the right approach. This approach does not work very well in the long term. That said generally speaking it’s not hard to get your guest post published but it can be hard to get it published on a top site or an authority website. When aiming for a top site you should create a high quality post which is well written and offers something of value to the readers. You should spend a day writing a post like this because the exposure is well worth the effort.
Rebuilding broken links
It feels terrible when you come across a broken link when browsing. Many times you’ll stumble across a page with many links and you think that this is the best page ever but clicking on any one of the links takes you to a message that says “the link is no longer available”. This is called link rot and is something which is very common on resource pages. This can be very irritating. Broken link building is about finding these links and telling the webmaster that the link is broken and suggesting one of your pages to him. The best thing about this approach is that you come across as helping the webmaster which turns out positively for you.
Add keywords and brand terms in your anchor text
Above we talked about how exact keyword matching anchor text was no longer relevant. Today, things are different and more sophisticated. So, variety is your best friend. Google wants to see different things i.e. brand terms as well as anchor text which has been mixed together. So the more variety you have the better things will look to Google.
Today link building is a lot more complicated and so you need to know exactly what you’re doing. You shouldn’t do everything listed in this article but rather draw from the most useful tactics based on what your business is all about. The idea should be to create good content and speak directly to the people you do business with; this should be the centerpiece of your SEO strategies.