It’s estimated that there were an average of more than two trillion Google queries per day in 2019.
So how do you ensure your company ranks highly and favorably in the eyes of the ever-changing and secretive Google algorithm?
Link building is one of the most important ways to build credibility and improve your ranking in the search engine result pages (SERPs). But it can be a difficult, time-consuming task.
Here are the primary link building strategies and guidance on what method may be best for you.
Link Building Technique #1: Directories
Pros: Directories can help drive traffic to your website as well as earn your company trust in the eyes of consumers
Cons: Google doesn’t view all links equally, and these directory links do not have the same influence on Google algorithms as a contextual link from a high-authority website relevant to your companies vertical
Best for: All businesses, but with the expectation that it won’t dramatically change your backlink portfolio quality
A directory is a localized search that drives traffic based on location, niche, and category. Directories are often used by Google to cut through the marketing tactics and show searchers the most authentic results for their queries.
Do you remember the yellow pages of the phone book before the internet? If so, imagine that the yellow pages are the pre-internet version of online directories.
Unfortunately, this easy link building tactic was mistreated by online marketers when it first became popular. Now, the Google algorithm sees web directory listings as less influential in terms of ranking. While they might not be the best link building technique, they do help to build trust with consumers and drive traffic to your website.
So how does a directory work? While most directories offer businesses to list their information for free, some do require a listing fee. Typically, businesses can do the listing themselves, like setting up a Facebook page, but there are some instances where a local data provider will have to help get your business listed.
As long as your business information is up to date, you can list your business on any directory you’d like. Some of the most common directories that you might be interested in listing your business on are Google My Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yellowpages.com, and Yelp.
Link Building Technique #2: Asking via Email
Pros: This can be an easy way to gain backlinks that give your website more authority
Cons: The easy route is extremely common now, so you’d have to try harder to add true value
Best for: Those who have enough time to send personalized pitches to mid-tier sites (and aren’t looking for top-tier links)
You’ve probably received emails like these — people asking you to add a link to your blog post or page. Often the sender says they read a blog post of yours and have a resource that might improve it (their own content).
Can you try out this tactic? Yes. Is it harder to succeed at than before? Absolutely. This is a very common practice now, and because people’s inboxes are being flooded with similar requests, their likelihood of success has diminished.
You can still give it a shot, but you’ll have to think creatively. Don’t simply say, “Link to me.” Ask yourself what would actually benefit the person you’re emailing?
Common strategies include finding 404 pages or other errors and recommending (your) replacement content. Or, if you find a list of items (like a list of top companies in your niche) and see that one of them is outdated or out of business, you can recommend your own as a replacement.
Whatever it is, make sure it’s actually helpful to the person on the receiving end of the email. Otherwise, there’s zero chance your effort will pay off.
Link Building Technique #3: Guest Posting
Pros: Guest posting on authoritative sites in your websites vertical can build links and boost your brands reputation
Cons: The process can be long and exhaustive; additionally, if a website is not properly vetted, editors might not provide a link back to your website or publish your article
Best for: Companies with a solid writing staff; companies where their target audience is reading blogs
Guest posting on other authoritative websites in your niche is a great way to get your brand name out there and establish authority in the space. You’re nearly always allowed one link to your own page, as well, which provides SEO value along with the other benefits.
If you’ve written a quality article that will be useful for another site’s audience, publishers and blogs may show interest in showcasing your knowledge. Some websites solely run on contributor articles. If it’s your first time writing a guest post, one of these sites might be a good first pitch to get your foot in the door.
Guest posting is also about relationships. Know an editor at a publisher in your space? What about an old friend from college who writes for an authoritative business publication? Is your old employer looking for content? If anyone pops to your mind, it might be time to send over an email or connect on LinkedIn.
You’ll also want to do some research on what they publish so you ensure what you’re pitching matches their style. Check out:
- Typical word count
- Headline types
- Tone/voice of the writing
- Common topics or themes
Additionally, what’s the quality of the link you’re after? If you’re interested in writing for Forbes, you might want to know that getting a link on Forbes means earning a nofollow link. This is why it’s also important to establish the goal of your guest post.
Once you’ve established your objective, sorted through your relationships, and thought of a few great topics that you could pitch, you’ll be ready to reach out with your ideas.
When crafting a pitch email, you need to include a few key details about the content that indicate why it’s a good fit for the publication’s audience. . For example, if you’re an insurance provider and the website you’re trying to pitch caters to millennials, you’ll want to center your topic ideas around millennials in need of insurance as opposed to insurance options for Baby Boomers.
Once you’ve secured a guest post opportunity, remember to build your relationship and be a pleasure to work with. That way, you’ll be able to write for this website again in the future.
Link Building Technique #4: Ego-Bait
Pros: Ego-bait content makes promotion easier and can attract quality links
Cons: If not done correctly, your article might flop and be viewed as a link building tactic not an ego-bait article as you intended
Best for: Anyone trying to target an influencer’s audience in addition to building a few links
A little bit of ego-bait (or content that appeals to individual people’s ego by featuring them in the piece) can go a long way in terms of shares and getting your brand out there to people who might not have noticed it before.
To create something like this, come up with a concept geared toward the person, business, or group of people whose attention you’re looking to capture. You’ll also want to make sure the content offers value to readers. Many people can fall into the trap of writing an article obviously grabbing link opportunities and end up losing out on the opportunity here.
Essentially, think about how you want to highlight people or brands. A common strategy is to pick a question you want a group of experts to answer. Then, those people are likely to share it because they’re featured as experts.
Orbit Media is great at this. In many of their blog posts (like this one), they make sure to include quotes from experts to add more tips to the piece. This helps build links, social shares, and general exposure.
Link Building Technique #5: Content Marketing + Digital PR
Pros: Content marketing is one of the most effective and scalable ways to build high-quality, difficult-to-acquire links
Cons: It’s not going to get you results overnight; it’s a long-term strategy
Best for: Any company looking continuous link building and media coverage and wanting a long-term lift in organic traffic
Content marketing and digital PR go hand-in-hand as one of the most lucrative link building tactics out there for businesses looking to grow their online presence. In fact, you might be surprised to know that in a survey we conducted, 76% of B2C and 88% of B2B respondents are using content marketing as a link building tactic.
So what is content marketing and how does digital PR play into it? At its root, content marketing is a strategic form of marketing that combines creating, publishing, and distributing content to a targeted audience. Digital PR is one (effective) way of promoting that content.
To differentiate content marketing from your typical press release or other marketing tactics, content marketing provides information that makes your buyer more informed as opposed to trying to push a product or sell a service.
Below are the steps you should take to develop a content marketing project with a digital PR outreach strategy.
Steps to develop a content marketing project:
- Identify your audience, goals, and budget.
- Research your audience, uncovering topics, questions, and emotions that would resonate with them.
- Brainstorm the type of content you want to create that features the elements you uncovered in #2.
- Collect new data and information to tell the story.
- Add context to your findings through writing and design.
- Publish the content on your website.
- Begin reaching out to publishers who might be interested in covering your project.
As an example of the types of results you can receive, check out a content marketing campaign we did here at Fractl, Perceptions of Perfection Part II. The project generated 240 dofollow links, including from Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Mashable, and BuzzFeed, and more.
If you’d like more insight on the benefits of this tactic, explore other content marketing case studies and the results we achieved for clients.
Content marketing and digital PR lead in combination can lead to earning high-quality backlinks, improving SEO, and growing your business.
Link Building Technique #6: Link Reclamation
Pros: People who are already referencing you are probably more likely to link to you.
Cons: It can be a time consuming and tedious process.
Best for: If you’re doing digital PR and getting natural coverage that you need to keep tabs on
Building links through the tactics above is no easy task, so when you find that one of these hard earned links disappears or is broken, it’s important to reclaim that lost link. Additionally, finding instances of your company being attributed incorrectly is another way to reclaim valuable links.
By actively reclaiming your links, you’ll be able to regain any lost value, improve your website's authority, and continue to build your link portfolio.
Here are a few steps you can take to reclaim links:
- Build a backlink report by searching the title of your webpage, searching for mentions of your brand or domain names, and reverse image searching using your visual graphics.
- Look for link conversion opportunities, including text attribution (meaning there’s no link at all) or for attribution given to another site that talks about your content (rather than directly linking to your content).
- Create and use an email template that will help you efficiently send a high volume of conversion emails at once.
- Reach out to the publications editorial desk and ask for proper attribution through email.
Once you’ve identified opportunities for link reclamation, simply reach out to the webmaster for proper attribution. By sending the correct link and a clear description of where these broken links are, the webmaster is typically eager to make the swap.
Having quality links pointed to your site signals to search engines that others are valuing your content. It’s important to keep providing that value, because earning a handful of backlinks and then never caring about it again probably won’t be enough to achieve top rankings.
But if you use the strategies above that make most sense for you, you can start to build a backlink portfolio you can be proud of.