A Big Bunch Of Link Building Ideas

Debra Mastaler on
  • Categories: Channel: SEO, Link Week Column
  • Over the last couple of weeks I’ve come across  some great link building discussions, techniques and Twitter tools I  wanted to share here.  I also wanted to mention a foundational linking tactic we’re using and seeing great results from. Let’s start with a valuable tip I found on one of the SEO forums .

    The value of outbound links

    The topic of outbound links comes up frequently in the forums, people want to know if they “leak” link juice and/or should they be nofollowed.  Like most things in SEO, there is no conclusive answer but I thought this comment by user “wheel” on the Webmaster World forum was right on the money:

    …”There’s two ways to look at this….One… you’re telling Google what your site is about and placing yourself in the neighborhood of those great sites you link to… 

    The second, leaking, has numerous threads here indicating recently that stopping the leak helps their rankings. The first way, I’ve never seen anyone say that it’s directly impacted their rankings….”

    I’m all for linking out to non-competitive, authority sites in your niche to help establish brand and keyword relevance.  Links pointing to your industry association, a testimonial or news story where your company is mentioned are good outbounds and go a long way to establish your site to both humans and bots. 

    But here’s the real gem in this post and the point worth taking home: “The first way, I’ve never seen anyone say that it’s directly impacted their rankings….”

    Meaning no one has come forward and attributed a change in rank to their outbound links.  I’ve never seen a change in ranking due to outbounds but like the thread goes on to say, I have seen changes when nofollows are used.  Use nofollow on non-revenue pages (like privacy policy and legal disclaimers) and be sure your navigation structure is cross-linked so  link popularity flows throughout your site.

    Since we’re talking outbound links, I also wanted to point out a post by Matt Cutts on his Gadgets, Google and SEO blog.  I thought the quote below was worth highlighting since it seems to be a fairly strong statement on how many links are too many.  Matt writes:

     …”If you end up with hundreds of links on a page, Google might choose not to follow or to index all those links. At any rate, you’re dividing the PageRank of that page between hundreds of links, so each link is only going to pass along a minuscule amount of PageRank anyway. Users often dislike link-heavy pages too…”

    While using the phrase “hundreds of links” seems purposely exaggerated, the point he makes is very clear: more links on a page allows less PageRank to flow. The last line about users disliking to scroll large link lists is also worth noting especially when you consider Google is very focused on the user experience. 

    Stick to using link building tactics that place links in content areas and stay away from link pages when possible.

    The most valuable social media sites

    I’m always on the lookout for new social media or content sites, especially if they’re demographically targeted and allow link popularity to pass.   Over on the HighRankings forum, members compiled a list of social media sites after this question was asked:

    “…what top ten websites out there have a general company profile. A site where a small business could put a general profile that would rank very high for SERPs for company name searches. “

    People responded with the usual suspects (Linkedin, Facebook) but also listed a handful of less well-known social media sites like Shoutem, DropJack, ActiveRain, FastPitch  and CrunchBase.  Of them, only the last two allow clean links in the content/usernames.

    I advocate registering your company/username at any social media site you come across. Not only does this siphon a little link juice but can go a long way to protecting your company name.  If you’re a well known brand or use common keywords in your company name, this is a good idea. 

    But registering at these sites isn’t going to get you to “rank very high for SERPs for company name searches” as profile links don’t carry much link weight.  To make your efforts worthwhile, survey your customers and ask which sites they frequent and then get to work creating an active community in the same space.

    A massive Twitter sites & tools directory

    Twitter is everywhere—you can’t escape reading or hearing about this micro-blogging platform wherever you go. The good people at the Birdsall Blog put together one of the best lists of Twitter tools I’ve come across.  There are tons listed, all on one page and categorized for easy searching. (Love the resource but I have to admit I did get tired of scrolling through the massive list ;). 

    One of the sites I found and really liked was  Twitturly.  Twitturly tracks and ranks URL’s dropped on Twitter by the number of times it was tweeted.  You can sort by any keyword or location and easily find targeted sites to use in your linking campaign.

    How to pitch journalists

    There is a very good thread “Pitching to Journalists” in the membership based SEOBook Community Forum. Here are a handful of the tips shared by myself and a couple others on how to get attention from the media.

    • …create high quality image libraries and story outlines on the site which are available to bona-fide press only after registration.”
    • “…A large number of journalists have their own blogs or write for their publication’s blog. Commenting on their stories, adding them to your blogroll and linking to them from your blog are all great ways to “get on their radar”.
    • “…When you link to a journalist, use the journalist’s name… journalists are people like everyone else. They have vanity. Most of them have set up Google Alerts for their names. So if you use their name in a blog post, they get a Google Blog Alert for their name.

    Keep in mind your website and it’s promotional efforts can be magnified by being the topic of a news story.  Being mentioned in a news source can be seen as an implied endorsement as people tend to trust what they see and hear in the news.   Work the media, it can lead to increased sales and confidence in your brand.

    Piggyback links

    Before I close I wanted to share a foundational link building tactic we’ve been using and seeing great results with.  I refer to it as piggyback linking since the power of the tactic relies on support sites.

    When we try to secure links from high ranking authority sites and run into roadblocks, we adjust the game plan and work to secure links from the sites linking to the authorities. 

    Why?  Well, sites rank (for the most part) based on their inbound links.  If you secure links from the pages/sites linking to the number one, two and three sites,  you should benefit from their link strength as well. 

    We start the process by using the Hub Finder  tool which queries Yahoo! to look for co-occurring backlinks. Once we have a list of sites, we develop a linking tactic and go after the links. 

    Hope there’s something here you can use.  If you have a question, comment or link building idea you’d like to share, leave it here!

    About The Author

    Debra Mastaler
    Debra Mastaler is Features Editor at Search Engine Land. She is an internationally recognized authority on link building and is an OMCP Certified Link Building Trainer. Based in Washington DC, Debra is also a columnist for Search Engine Land, has written for or been featured in numerous tech publications and is active on the search marketing conference circuit as a speaker and trainer. Debra serves as a judge for the Landy Awards and is the President of Alliance-Link.com. Connect with Debra on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay in touch.