6 Ways To Improve Your Link Building Strategy To Get More Links
People tend to be more cautious about link building than any other area of search engine optimisation (SEO) and with good reason. The Penguin update in 2012 resulted in many websites getting a penalty for having poor quality and spam links pointing to their website.
This lead to a massive shift in the industry, which changed the industry best practices and left some nervous about link building.
Why bother with link building?
Link building is still an important part of SEO and, when used as part of a wider plan, can lift the profile of your website. The links will be used to assess a site’s relevance to the search term used and therefore how prominently it should be displayed in the search results. The quality of these links is taken into account and Google will prioritise sites with links from good quality websites over those that have links from poor quality websites, regardless of the number of links they have. For example, if website A has a link from a good quality website like a national newspaper and website B has several links from poor quality sources, Google will favour website A.
Bearing this in mind, here are six methods you can try to improve your link profile:
1. Linkable assets
A linkable asset can help you build more natural and ongoing links to your website. By creating content that people will enjoy and find useful, you can make life a lot easier for yourself, as you will not need to spend as much time convincing people of your website’s worth.
The type of business will dictate to an extent the type of asset you should be producing, in terms of the tone, medium and content but make sure it is one of the following:
- Useful tips or advice
- Interesting or important information
- Attention grabbing stories or images
- High quality content that goes more in depth than content by the competition
Promoting linkable assets using a company blog
Your existing audience are perfect for starting promotion of your linkable asset. A great way to do this is to share it through your company blog. If you don’t have one, it could be worth getting one so that you can share your news and views. Make sure that the blog is regularly updated and that way you can make more references to your linkable asset without it seeming unnatural.
If you’re struggling for ideas, consider writing about industry developments, case studies or anything newsworthy that your company has done, like corporate charity projects.
2. Brand mentions
Finding companies that have mentioned your brand is particularly useful for link building, as these can be approached for a link to your website (if there isn’t already one). As they have mentioned your company, they are already aware of you so can skip the big introduction of who you are and what you do, and get straight to asking them for the link (after thanking them for mentioning you). Editing a page to add the link to your website isn’t that big of a step, as they are not having to change the text of the article to shoe horn a link in, they are simply adding it to the text that is already there.
You can use one of the following strings to identify mentions of your brand, remembering to add the –inurl parameter, to exclude search results from your own website.
-inurl:https://www.vertical-leap.uk “vertical leap”
You may wish to add an additional term that is specific to your industry to filter out any irrelevant results.
-inurl:https://www.vertical-leap.uk “vertical leap” “marketing”
This should give you websites that you can contact for links but remember that the purpose of the link is not to increase your rank but to enable users to learn more about your company through referral traffic from the right audience.
Sometimes you won’t get a response, especially if the article is a few years old so try contacting the webmaster as they are more likely to help out. If you’re having trouble finding contact details, then these tips should be able to help you.
3. Broken links
Whenever a page is moved or removed from a website, a broken link will occur for any links pointing to the page from another website. These links will not have worth to a search engine but more importantly, they lead to a poor user experience and can make people turn elsewhere for their information, goods and services.
What you need to do is check for any pages that have been removed or moved and then for any links that point to those pages. Doing this manually can take a lot of time and effort but there are tools that can help you with this, such as Ahrefs and Vertical Leap’s Apollo Insights, which pulls in data from multiple resources to show the pages and inbound links that need attention. Once these have been found, if there are any, contact the websites and ask them to change the link to the new URL or another relevant one.
Sometimes the error isn’t technical, it’s human. Letters in domains can be mixed up and missed out easily e.g. www.gogle.com and www.google.com. Websites like Domain Name Typo Generator can help you with this, by generating misspellings that you can search for online. Again, once identified, these websites can be contacted and asked to update the links.
There may be more than you expected but if you can keep going and work through them, the results will be positive.
4. Citations and directories
Other than the benefits for SEO success, online directories, much like their paper counterparts, are useful for allowing (future) customers to find you. They will boost your local relevance and therefore your visibility in search results. It is believed that Google uses many of these sites to cross-reference its data to ensure that it is kept up to date, which also acts as a trust signal for these sites and, after gaining a link from them, to yours.
For a list of trusted websites try www.moz.com/local/overview
Check your data first, including the exact name, address and phone number for your company. If you are entering your company details with LTD in the name on some websites and not on others, the inconsistencies may confuse search engines. If you move offices, don’t forget to update the data as soon as possible. Remember also to check the directories for entries before you add anything, as duplicate entries can confuse users and do not look good.
5. Turn your web page into a resource
It’s quite common to see articles on the internet that have the title ‘Top ten resources for…’ or ‘Useful links for…’ and are great reads when you’re doing research. One way of getting your brand noticed (and to gain links) is to get your website included in one of these lists. This method is perfect for linkable assets (though not exclusively) and if you believe that you’ve found a website that would be a good fit for your organisation, contact the relevant person and try to persuade them to include you.
To find one of these resource pages, try the search string written below. You may find that you will need to tailor it slightly, based on any preferences for terms that the websites in your sector use.
(inurl:resources OR inurl:links OR inurl:“useful sites” OR inurl:“helpful sites” OR inurl:“useful websites” OR inurl:“helpful websites”)
As shown above, this string will show you the right types of pages but not necessarily the ones you want. This query could be amended by placing relevant industry terms at the end, as the current string will give you either general ones (which are not good enough) or it could produce pages for other sectors that are ranking highly. This means that you will need to make it more specific, in order for it to be a valuable search.
For example, by searching for marketing, I’ve already found several websites which could be worth investigating:
Top Tip: Could I create my own resource list instead?
We’re going to discuss guest blogging in a moment below but you can certainly pitch an article to another organisation with ‘Top resources for [enter your subject area here]’. These articles are popular and sharable but their main draw is that – as long as you mention other useful resources – you can include yours without being too “salesy”.
6. Use guest blogging to build links
Some will put guest blogging in the same camp as the spammy link building tactics of the past but that isn’t the truth. Producing good quality and useful articles can benefit the audience and website owner, just as much as yourself. When writing and pitching content, ask yourself whether or not you would be happy including it on your website and if the answer is no, a rewrite or rethink might be in order.
When it comes to prospecting, there are lots of website out there that will accept content from third parties, as long as certain criteria are met. This means that your content will need to be well-written, relevant to the website’s audience, with well thought out ideas/tips. Make sure that any links you are including to your site are to relevant content or services and not all going to the same page.
To find the right websites to use you can try this advanced search operator to find websites that have spoken on your topic (and therefore will be more interested):
(intitle:who OR intitle:what OR intitle:where OR intitle:why OR intitle:how OR intitle:ways OR intitle:tips) (“relevant topic”)
Occasionally articles that need updating will show up in the search results and you can contact them to add relevant new contact:
You will be more likely to succeed in adding content to another website if you regularly engage with their brand, such as adding comments to posts or sharing their social media updates and signing up for their newsletters. Flattery and constructive points will go a long way.
Top Tip: quality is everything
Quality can never be mentioned too much. Receiving dreadful email pitches is, unfortunately, part of the job when you work in marketing so it’s important to make sure that what you’re writing will actually add quality to someone’s website (and day). Make sure that you do your research properly, tailor your messages to the individuals and remember to spell check, as this is an indicator of your writing skills. If your emails are badly written, it’s safe to assume your articles could be the same. You need to stand out for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
If you haven’t had a response, send a polite reminder email a week later. Just like you, they are busy people and may not have remembered to reply or even do more than skim read your email and article.
Is it okay to buy links for SEO?
It’s true that link building takes a lot of time (not to mention effort) but as satisfying as the shortcut could be, it’s definitely not worth it in the long run. The sites that offer these services will be VERY low quality and will harm your rankings and domain authority. This means that you will then have to spend time disavowing and/or getting these links removed, on top of trying to build good quality links.
Note: some guest posting or article placement opportunities will require payment – in money or products/services – but there are very strict rules for doing this that will prevent you from causing trouble for your rankings. For more information on this, please see Google’s guidelines for bloggers reviewing products.
Visit the Vertical Leap blog for more great tips on SEO and link building.