Our experience of building links for brands from all sectors and of all sizes means we’ve collected a few tricks and tips over the years. To help your business get the most from your link building strategy, we’ve put together this guide on how link building can transform your digital performance.
What is Link Building?
At its simplest, link building is the process of securing links from external websites back to your own. Search engines use links to discover new web pages and help define their organic visibility, and see a link as an endorsement of the site that they are linking to. This means if you’re able to get a high-quality site linking to your own site, your organic visibility is likely to be improved.
Old School Link Building
‘Black Hat’ is the term used for SEO practices that are condemned by Google and other search engines. In 2018, it is critical that websites don’t fall foul of using black hat SEO tactics, as the consequences can be catastrophic.
If you have been link building for years, you may be familiar with old school link building techniques, such as placing multiple links on directory sites, links on forums and paying for links. These tactics are highly risky to your site and will likely be penalised by Google; we therefore strongly recommend that you stay away from them.
Where Should You Start?
There are a number of core tactics that any site can include in their outreach strategy, such as fixing broken links, analysing your competitor’s backlink profile and searching for mentions of your brand that do not have a link attributed to them. These are often seen as quick wins and are a great place for any link building strategy to start.
Analysing your competitor’s backlink profiles is great way to gauge your performance in comparison. Use online tools such as Majestic, which allows you to input five of your direct competitors and compare their backlink profile against yours.
Not only does allow you to compare your performance, but the list of links that your competitors have secured means you have an almost instant list of sites to target, as they are likely to be relevant to your industry and site.
Every site, no matter the size, will have broken links in their link profile at some point. Broken links are simply links to a website that direct to a page that is either non-existent or has since been deleted. Contacting the site where the broken link sits and asking them to re-direct that link to a live page on your site allows for that authority from the link to once again pass to your site. You can find a list of your broken links using tools such as Ahrefs.
Unlinked Brand Mentions
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and not everyone who mentions your brand online will include a link back to your site. Locating those unlinked brand mentions can be a gold mine for your outreach strategy. Using brand-monitoring tools such as SEMrush, you can easily keep track of your brand mentions and jump on any opportunities to secure a link.
If you are able to secure a link on a page that mentions your brand, this allows authority to pass to your page, as well as the added bonus of any referral traffic.
Long Term Tactics
Thinking longer-term, these are the tactics that should be the focus of your targeted outreach strategy. Although they require greater resource and more time, when done correctly, these tactics can yield big gains for your overall digital transformation.
Your longer-term link building strategy is where you can really get creative. Creative, original content is a key part of any outreach strategy and a great way to secure high quality links.
Whether it is an original piece of thought leadership, an infographic or a video, creative content allows you to showcase your authority in your sector and become one of the leading voices in your industry.
It’s important to make sure, however, that your content is genuinely something that people will want to engage with. This means that creative content cannot be sales-focused, and must offer genuine value both to the publication (i.e. the site that will be placing the content), and to the reader.
Creative content placed in this way will not only help to support your organic visibility, but can also help drive new users to your site, thereby creating potential new customer audiences.
When working on a campaign, there is opportunity for numerous crossovers between outreach and digital PR. A digital PR team can replicate many of the techniques employed in a link-building campaign and it is important that the two teams work in unison to recognise fully the opportunity the two have in working together.
Effective digital PR tactics include press releases, launches, events and product reviews. It is important that both internal and external teams cross-reference their prospect lists before any outreach has begun, as there may be a pre-existing relationship that can be taken advantage of. In doing this, all potential opportunities are fully realised and results can be achieved quicker.
Monitoring PR requests from journalists is another tactic that falls under digital PR. Done correctly; it’s a great way of uncovering live opportunities to build links on quality sites.
With the massive growth of online shopping and B2B marketing, your industry will be becoming more competitive all the time, and your digital strategy needs to reflect this. Being creative, bold and unique will increase your chances of establishing yourself as a market leader and standing out from the crowd.
Your thinking should be no different when developing your link building strategy. Creating truly remarkable content, that offers genuine value to the end reader will help you build high quality links and ultimately help increase your organic visibility.