Websites that earn valuable organic traffic from search engines are often aware of the powers of search engine optimization (SEO). If you only implement a few webpage best practices, stay aware of industry trends, and focus on good content, your rankings and traffic are likely to remain steady. But there’s more you could be doing to take your performance to the next level.
Are Links a Part of Your 2017 SEO Strategy?
Links are an incredibly challenging thing to earn, yet they’re an effective signal that affects where your site ranks in search engines. Google and other search engines use hyperlinks (or links/backlinks) to determine the quality and relevance of a website; they’re akin to “popularity” votes. Theoretically, the more backlinks a site has from authoritative and relevant websites, the higher that website should rank in search engines.
When used as a tactic, building links can be very hard to execute. It requires wearing a lot of hats as a digital marketer, including those of a content strategist, outreach specialist, researcher, analyst, and more. But is it impossible? Certainly not.
Links Are STILL Important!
In years past, links that fell outside of best practices were seen as spammy and negatively affected the website they pointed to. Google would issue penalties for websites with links deemed suspect, because those sites were participating in activities that violated Google’s Terms of Service. A penalty in Google will result in lower rankings and less traffic; it can also hurt a website’s profits.
Links are still an incredibly important factor to improve search performance, and they seem to be making a resurgence this year. If you’ve never executed a link building strategy it’s important to know all the facts, because link building is inherently risky, and only the highest quality of tactics are recommended. These resources will help beginners understand a bit more; it pays to read them before executing any campaign.
- Beginners Guide to Link Building by Moz
- Beginners Guide to SEO: Best Practices by Hongkiat.com
- Link Building for Beginners in Three Easy Steps by Top Rank Blog
We’ll discuss some of the popular strategies and tactics important to success. With some careful planning and diligent research, you’re sure to be well on your way to success with link building.
Below are five recommendations to help you up improve your marketing by bringing in more links. We’ll have more tips to help you increase your linking skills in a future blog post.
#1 Friends, Family, Colleagues, and Industry Pals
When was the last time you asked friends, family, colleagues, or industry pals to help promote your company or website? It might seem a little awkward to ask, but that practice is really quite common. You’d be surprised how a simple ask will be received by those around you. Here are a few tips:
Don’t just blindly ask. Do a bit of research; find an actual place on your friends/family/colleagues/industry pal’s website that would make sense to link to your website. Let them know where that page is, give them the information they’ll need (such as a logo or a description of your site or web address, for example), and ask.
Think about what you can offer in return. A request for a link doesn’t always have to start off that way. Partnerships, a great content piece, or even an interview could result in a link without you even having to ask. Simply place the link to your site in any partnership information, content piece, or interview you conduct.
Make sure it’s relevant. Blindly asking for a link is never a good idea. Think before you ask. Which of your friends/family/colleagues/industry pals have pertinent and authoritative websites? Research a bit more and find out which sites are most relevant to your website’s content and topics.
#2 Industry Directories
Search engines aren’t the only place online users go to find business information or recommendations. Business directories like the BBB exist, along with industry-specific directories, open source software, and so many more. Prices may vary and range from free to a few hundred dollars for submission.
Directories as a sole tactic are not recommended, but integrated in a well-rounded campaign, directories can be helpful. Make sure to choose an authoritative directory which has categories relevant to your website. Avoid any and all spammy signals, because the last thing you want to do is associate your website with spam. Proceed with caution, and, if you’re not comfortable, consult a professional.
#3 Unlinked Brand Mentions
Brand mentions are when your website or company name is mentioned online. Oftentimes these are mentions you’ve achieved through traditional marketing or those you simply never knew existed. Hyperlinks to your website are often missing from brand mentions; many will talk about your brand but not actually link to your website.
Pitching a website that has already talked about you can be a little tricky. That’s why I created this Guide to Unlinked Brand Mentions post a few years ago, and it’s still very applicable. The article offers many helpful tips, including how to find unlinked brand mentions and how to pitch websites to include your link. Check it out if you’re not currently executing this type of strategy.
#4 Give Customer Testimonials
A common way that websites link to each other is as a result of testimonials. Partners, vendors, and clients you work with may include testimonials on their websites, which include a link. Seek out these opportunities with a little research and a creative pitch. This type of tactic is a win-win for both parties involved when executed correctly. Check out these website testimonials done right for a few ideas.
#5 Resource Pages
Resource pages have been described as the “holy grail” of link building. A resource page is a page which provides information for the reader on a core topic, listing a number of resources organized by type and topic. Links point to the helpful resource and the pages are sometimes updated with new and relevant information as more resources are discovered. When you stumble across one of these pages, you’ll often find that they are authoritative and have great metrics. When relevant to your own industry, they prove beneficial on many fronts. They can send link authority and drive traffic and even possible conversions from the traffic sent.
Finding resource pages will require diligence and a bit of research. Quicksprout’s “How to Build Quality Links from Resource Pages” gives guidance on getting started. A few common resource pages include:
- Links pages: listing of links within a given industry.
- Useful resources: listing of resources named “useful” by the author.
- Training resources: listing of educational or training resources in an industry.
- Local resources: listing of nearby/local resources in a specific area.
- Other resources: listing of resources labeled as “other” by the author.
Finally, keep your eye on this blog … More linking tips are coming your way in Part 2 of this post!
There are so many ways you can resurrect your link building this year! Hopefully these ideas will get you thinking about increasing your links. From industry directories to resource pages, there’s no shortage of places to turn to to increase your links. Where will you start? Share with us in the comments below a few of the tactics you’re looking forward to implementing in 2017!