Link building isn’t the easiest part of SEO. It requires more than expert keyword use and knowing how to use anchor text. It takes knowing how to create a page worth linking to, and then reach out to other websites. It also takes knowing how to use newer link building strategies, such as positive branding and link rewards.
Link building has changed over the past couple of years. It used to be that it was enough to just write killer content (linkbait), post it for your followers to read (and share) and then watch for other sites to link over to your work. Unfortunately, everyone is now trying to write linkbait, for almost every blog post. The market is saturated with content. If you want to gain valuable links for your website’s SEO, you need to take things a step further.
You need to have a marketable, and trustworthy, brand. When people link to your site, it’s not just a vote of confidence in that one article or blog post; it’s a vote of confidence in the entire site and in your brand. Make sure that your brand inspires that kind of confidence.
Create sharable content. Before you hit the “publish” button, stop to read over your work. Is it something that your friends and followers would share? Is it something that you would share, if it was someone else’s work? Regularly posting sharable content helps to bring people to your site and helps to position you as a trustworthy brand, both important for link building.
Come up with link incentives. Writing exciting linkbait fits in here, but you could also create an infographic for other sites to link back to, or create a meme for others in your niche. For example, you might create a weekly meme (Five Things Thursdays, for example), create a badge for people to use, and invite your blog readers to play along. You post your Five Things Thursday post, and then they can post the links to their Five Things post in the comments section, so that other readers can find their post. In return, they post a link to your post or site (or the badge) in their post, creating links. This is also great for building traffic, trust and a sense of community based around your website.
Get social. Yes, that means that you have to invest some serious time on social media sites. It takes a lot more than just posting links and answering the odd question here or there. Get on there and create relationships with the people in your niche. Talk to anyone and everyone, whether they are just starting out in your topic area or whether they have been around for years. Make friends and build your influence at the same time.
Keep the social niceties going by linking out to other sites. Link building not a one-way street. Find similar bloggers and link out to them in your posts. If you use a post for inspiration or as a launchpad for a post of your own, or if you’re taking someone else’s work a step further, give credit where it is due (in the form of a link and an invitation for your readers to check it out). Link to sites that better explain an idea that you don’t have time to explain in your own post. Don’t link out in every post, but doing it where appropriate can create some positive link-love reciprocation. If you link to them, they are more likely to link back to you.
The basics of link building still apply. You still need to limit the number of inbound links you receive at one time (too many sets off Google’s spam alert), and you need to make sure you’re cultivating links with trustworthy sites. You also need to make sure that you’re using anchor text properly in your outbound links, and that the majority of your outbound links (and inbound links) are to sites that are relevant to yours. But link building in 2012 has moved beyond writing linkbait and hoping that people link back to your site because of it; you need to actively seek and build links in a more socially-savvy way than ever before. It takes work, but links from other sites still have a significant affect on your search engine rank.
What are your most successful link building methods?