Is link building on its way out, along with SEO? Is content still king? Can link building only “work” through black hat techniques (i.e. bulk buying), leading your website down a dark path? We’re taking a look.
As far as link building is concerned, we’re of the ilk that it’s alive and well. It has of course changed and evolved over time, so it might not be as recognisable to those who started a decade ago. Thanks to the Google Penguin algorithm update, link building has (thankfully) shifted away from quantity and more towards quality.
Does this make link building harder? Sure. But is it still worth it? Absolutely.
If you’re looking to build links, whether it’s for your own website or your client’s, you must be smart and calculated. It’s a tricky balance to get right, but when you do, it’s a fantastic way to gain SEO dominance over your competitors.
How Can You Get High-Quality Links?
If we had a cup of tea for every time we were asked this question, we’d be swimming in the stuff, but really there’s only one correct answer; content.
It sounds like a cop out, but the truth is, it’s easy to see how great content can (and should) become your main driving force behind any link building campaign.
Seven or so years ago, it was all about getting your links everywhere. Directories, link farms, paid placements etc. It didn’t matter where they were as long as they linked back to you. With a tenner in your (virtual) hand, you could be in the number one spot by lunchtime.
But today, Google won’t hesitate to put a big red cross on your website and penalise you all the way back to page 150 if you are caught doing any of the above. That’s why a lot of digital marketers believe link building to be dead; because the “easy way” of doing it was patched up.
There’s no other way around it – if you want to get good, usable links nowadays then you’re going to have to go au naturel. Organic links should be the backbone of your SEO campaign. But that leaves the big question; how do you get natural links?
Easy. By offering something of value to readers or website owners. And how do you do that? By creating great content.
Here are a few ways that content can help get you natural links.
- Original research – Numbers make headlines, so offering brand new data specifically targeting your niche not only benefits you but other people who also love talking about your sector. People who use your data won’t think twice about linking back to you when they reference your study.
Top tip: Write about the data on your own blog, and then use that to send a top-level press release out to journos. Give them the bare bones of the data, but for their readers to find out more they will HAVE to link back to your blog post.
- Guestographics – Did you know that the human brain processes images and visuals at a much faster rate than written text? So it’s no wonder that Guestographics have taken off. You’ve heard of infographics, but Guestographics have been created specifically for the purposed of being used elsewhere. They are SO much easier to read than walls of text and sharing them is as easy as a 100-word intro and a link back to the original creator – you!
Top tip: Remember not to overdo the infographics – not everyone loves them so opt for other visual formats to display information too.
- Guest blogging – This tip writes itself. Is there a better way to get links from other websites than to actually create the content for them? But err on the side of caution with guest posts; just because someone accepts them doesn’t mean you should jump at the chance.
Top tip: Look for guest blogging platforms that relate to your industry, that have a history of producing high-quality content and can vouch for themselves with things like domain authority, page authority and low spam scores.
Your Perfect Link Building Toolbox
You may have the blueprint, but no one can build a house let alone a piece of IKEA furniture without having the right tools. The same goes for building good quality links.
A few of our favourite tools are:
- Answer the Public
- Google Keyword Planner
All of these have one goal in mind; to assist you in getting the best quality links possible.
Having an effective toolbox at your disposal can cut the grunt work for you. they can help you spot prospective links and opportunities that you might have missed if you were going at it alone. Not only that, but many them also offer tips and techniques to help improve your campaigns.
The downside? Just like almost everything in life, success isn’t guaranteed, and using tools won’t ensure that your campaign works. But in all honesty, nothing will. While these tools are there to help you out, the future of your campaign isn’t a 100% certainty. Most of them are only useful if you have a great content plan in place.
It’s also worth bearing in mind if you’re new to the wonderful world of SEO, or if your clients are, that the effects of an increase in organic rankings can take up to a year to be felt. SEO is a long game to play, but it’s so worth it once you start to see the results flood in.
The Future of Link Building
Looking at the current state of the industry, it’s easy to assume that we’re in a good place as far as link building is concerned, for now. The natural link building practices that have come into play pretty much force people to create excellent content and to cultivate strong relationships with other websites and journalists.
If you choose to include link building in your organic strategy, good on you! Just don’t forget that your focus should be on offering something of value, and keep your eyes firmly fixed on the long term.
Looking for more advice on all things SEO? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.