In the past few months, link building as we’ve known it has been totally shaken up by three major events:
- Google anounced that they were changing how they view links (nicely recapped here:)
- Certain large blog networks were devalued and webmasters started to receive warnings about unnatural links.
Link building can still work well using ways that I wouldn’t personally advise because I don’t think that the techniques are sustainable. However, I fully recognize that not every site is destined to have a long-term link campaign that seeks to win the race by being slow and steady.
Thus, you’ll keep seeing link builders writing about the “best” ways to do something, and you’ll see others arguing and saying that riskier tactics still work. I doubt we’ll ever see the day when risky tactics don’t work in some way, but I do also believe that unless you want to stay terrified of losing your rankings and traffic, you have to recognize that link building is no longer what it once was.
Maximize Each Link
Get a link to your site and make sure you get the most out of it…traffic and conversions. If you get a great link, build some links to that page too!! Don’t think of a link as being just a one-time event.
If a blogger links to you (perhaps in a roundup or reference to an article that you wrote) then by all means, reach out via email, blog commenting, or social media, and say thanks. Maybe you’ll get another link, be asked for an interview, asked to guest post, etc. Honestly, unless the link was done to tell the world that you’re a horrible moron, you have nothing to lose by saying thank you.
Keep Your Content Linkworthy
Encourage comments and social media sharing. I wouldn’t really want to link to an SEO post that seemed good but had zero comments and social media shares, because I would be wondering “what am I missing here?”
If you write an article and people comment, respond. Encourage members of your staff to comment or respond to other comments, and encourage social sharing. This increases the chances of someone coming back to see what’s next.
In the above example, you can see that this post is getting some good social love. As of this writing, it also had over 20 comments. To me, that’s a signal that the content is linkworthy.
Find New Competitors
Look at your referral sources, find the great ones, and see who else they link to. Those are fantastic sites to perform competitive analysis on.
Here we see that a few of the top SEO industry sites are linking to us at the SEO Chicks blog, so I’d do a quick site search of each of those sites in order to see who’s on their blogrolls and use a tool like Get Rank’s Link Extractor to get a list of sites linked to from the original site.
I’d also suggest that, if you have time, you at least look at any site that puts up a link to you, and see what they link to, even if it’s not a site you recognize. You can find some gems this way.
Keep Analyzing Your Profile
Analyze your link profile more than once. Hopefully you’re keeping a constant eye on your link building campaign but at minimum, you need to review your link profile at least every few months (and much, much more often if you’ve recently been penalized) unless you have a very small site and are generating few links a month.
While I don’t recommend chasing the algorithm, I have to admit that I do it occasionally. Considering the frequency of Google updates, it’s wise to review your profile after each major update if you do this too.
I know that reciprocal links aren’t a great strategy for the most part (usually because they are so poorly done) but there is nothing wrong with linking to someone who links to you if you don’t abuse it and rely on it. In fact, linking out initially, to a site that you’d love to get a link from, is a great way to get noticed and generate a link of your own.
If you’re checking for new links or mentions of your name/brand and you see something pop up, don’t you usually check it out? I certainly do, and I occasionally find great new sources to keep my eye on. Even if a link out doesn’t get you a reciprocal link immediately, it still has the potential to help you form a connection that can help you down the road.
Familiarize Yourself With On-Page Work
I am lucky to have come from a programming background and my first efforts were all focused on on-page work, but since links are easy to build without having to touch a site, obviously, I’m sure there are people building links who have little idea about much else.
Links can only do so much for a site, and if you’re building links and seeing no good results, you need to be able to look at reasons outside of the links. With the recent chatter about over-optimization issues, analyzing a backlink profile to figure out where the problem lies will just not cut it any longer. You’re going to have to look at the site too.
This is why I love link building though; it’s never stagnant for long. Even if you do everything the “right” way, you’ll end up having to adapt, which keeps us all on our toes.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.