Creating an Effective Link Building Strategy
What is link building? How does it benefit me?
Look no further.
Today we’ll be going over this important SEO process. We’ll describe what link building is and why it’s such an important part of the SEO scene in 2016.
Link building at its core is the practice of gaining URL links on different websites to your own. This has the benefit of improving your authenticity and reputation which will affect how it will rank on search engines like Google.
How Does It Work?
This aspect can be accomplished in a variety of ways in the SEO world at present.
In previous articles we discussed the difference between black hat and white hat SEO techniques. Black hat is the somewhat shady world of techniques that are not approved of by search engines like Google and can be punished severely if discovered, depending on the technique used. White hat is above board.
As you can guess there are both white and black hat techniques in link building.
Natural vs. Unnatural
These are the two types of links as understood by SEOs.
Natural links are ones who are added in to a site in a genuine sense. This could be a link to a particularly high quality article given by an individual who has actually read that content and wants to spread it.
Natural links are often referred to as organic links.
Unnatural links are those that are created by SEOs with the specific purpose of increasing linking and page ranking to manipulate a search engine results page. It’s the fact that it is only made with the goal of increasing the rank of a page on a SERP that classifies it such a way.
The stance of providers like Google is clear in regards to these two types of links.
They want to support genuine and authentic content instead of sites that have just gamed the system. Proper natural links are highly rewarded as a result.
While the algorithms of big search engines like Google continue to evolve over time they can still be conquered by clever techniques. It’s never been the goal of Google to rank and reward manufactured links and sites. Spam is punished even if it is just one person creating links for the purpose of SEO all day long.
How the Game Has Changed
It’s no secret that SEO changes constantly. As providers update and improve their algorithms and refocus what they reward most highly in regards to page ranks old techniques die out and are replaced with fresh new ways to manipulate SERPs.
Back in 2012 Google wasn’t particularly active in combatting unnatural links. It was a simple matter of creating short articles with a high amount of links spread over a period of a few months. This was rewarded highly by Google and was a very easy method of reaching a high SERP position.
Everyone was in on this and times were good! Google was aware however and the boot came down and the technique was shut off. This update was referred to as the “Penguin update” and was a clear message from Google – don’t game the system, give us authentic content.
What’s Link Building Like Now?
It’s not gone.
While the crackdown on the above mentioned link building has happened these techniques still exist as black hat methods. They work but carry risk.
It’s not recommended to try them. The risk is real and you’d need to know very well what you are doing. The consequences can be that your page sinks like a rock and can sometimes never be recovered.
This can be particularly lethal if you are putting all your eggs in one basket for a big job. We don’t advise it.
There’s a commonly used phrase that is very useful for describing the interactions of websites when it comes to link building. This is called “SEO Heat”.
The way this works is by visualising a link as a laser. When a site links to a different site it will affect that site by “heating” it slightly. This is the rank improvement from that site receiving a link that isn’t flagged as a negative black hat link.
The qualities of links depend on the source and whether they are organic. There are further factors beyond this but it essentially boils down to whether Google has flagged it as a black hat or manipulated attempt to raise page ranking.
As a result of this it’s as much about getting the right types of links in the desired quality as it is having the quantity. Indeed, having a high amount of poor links directly jeopardizes the health and ranking of a website as it may be irreversibly damaged and flagged.
Due to the above you want to work towards having a “hot site”. This is recognition by Google of the quality of link sharing that is inbound to your website and the quality of the traffic that is being sent its way.
Hot sites are essentially recognized as both high quality and trusted by Google. Reaching this coveted status means that your website will naturally soar to the top of SERPs. It does take a lot of work to get to this point however and can be frustrating to work towards.
What Can I Do to Improve My Strategy?
There are a number of techniques that we’ll list in bullet point format for ease of review.
- Do your best to get hot sites to link to your page. This can come down to straight negotiation or recognition of the content your page provides.
- Unique content! Linking with the above point, Google will recognize a site well if the content is original and unique. It’s quite impressive in its accuracy this way. Sometimes the best way is really to have original articles covering important and fresh subjects.
- Don’t worry about going off topic once in a while in your blog posts. SEOs are finding this can yield great results in unexpected links from hot sites.
- Competitor analysis as always. Take a look at how your competition is earning their links and improving their heat signatures. Our recent article on SEO plugins can help identify this.
- Unless you’re sure of the consequence it can be best to avoid begging for links in spam or articles. The best heat comes organically as a result of your quality.
- Be careful as to outsourcing your link building. In the current landscape it’s a critical and delicate part of SEO and is best handled by the person who has direct knowledge of your other campaign goals and priorities – you.
- Make as many “destination” pages as you can on your website. You need to have concise and comprehensive pages that contain all required detail on a subject. This will make it more likely for sites with good heat signatures to link to you.
- Some sincerity and interest in helping others can be of use! Work such as articles that truly help assist and empower people in a chosen subject can result in great organic links and real recognition.
There’s much more to this subject. As discussed, it’s both critical and delicate.
Your link building strategy can be the flagship of your SEO operation or its downfall. Be sure to do your research fully and you’ll prosper. Run in blind and you might get burned!