If you’re creating an SEO strategy and you don’t have link building involved, you’re missing out on a serious opportunity to get yourself a stellar campaign going, while simultaneously becoming a major online competitor.
Google’s link building update
Helping in your link building strategy, starting March 1, 2020, Google is asking all paid-for links to be tagged as sponsored. And not just within the page, but also through the link attribute Rel=”sponsored”.
Also, if you’re building links using user-generated content, you’ll be asked to tag the links with attribute Rel=”ugc”.
Feel free to still apply nofollow rules (see below for more detail on that), or even use Rel=”nofollow sponsored” to combine rules.
Don’t get overwhelmed, you don’t need to apply this new strategy (yes, it’s a strategy and I’ll tell you about that in just a sec) to your old links, this will be done on a going-forward basis.
How’s it gonna help your SEO?
When you use nofollow tags, you’re telling the search engines not to count the link toward your SEO, usually because that link will end up harming your SEO, but with the new sponsored tag, you’re saying to Google: “It’s been paid for, but it should still count toward my link building campaign.” And then Google will give you some love.
You won’t get 100% love, but maybe 30% love, which we all know, is better than 0%. So, be sure you take advantage of this new part of the link building game!
You can read more details about this on Google’s blog.
What is link building? And, why do you need backlinks?
Let’s talk in layman terms for a moment; link building is merely getting your website link/backlink/HTML hyperlink, otherwise known as your link, added to someone else’s page to link back to your website (hence the name – backlink).
Basically, that other page is not only vouching for you but giving you some pretty great advertising while boosting your SEO, too.
So, you want that page to be authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant to you or what you do.
Authority, trust, and relevance
An authoritative site is a site users visit to gain knowledge.
A trustworthy site (pretty much speaks for itself) is a site that users… trust. Trust doesn’t only pertain to the content on the page, but also online information-gathering safety and protection.
Finally, your links need to be on pages that are relevant to your business. Meaning, if your backlink is on a site that talks about vitamins and you sell pillows, hmmm….? It needs to make sense.
Are you wondering why this adds value to you?
Four main points come to mind:
- You gain visibility (YES!)
- Each page of your domain will gain some ranking (WOOHOO!)
- It gives meaningful information about you to the search engine (happy search engine = happy you)
- You’ll get more clicks (more chances for conversions!)
If you’re putting time, energy, and money into SEO, the process of link building is critical to your success. And we promise you; you’ll see the ROI.
So, let’s break it down, the more external links OF VALUE you have floating around this wild wild web of ours, the better off you are, IF your link is shown on established and trustworthy sites, that are relevant to yours. A trustworthy site isn’t going to send their users to a spammy site. Search engines have algorithms that speak this language so that you won’t dupe them.
Make your external links count!
To follow or nofollow?
Now that we understand that importance of backlinks (link building), it’s important to understand the difference between follow links and nofollow links.
Don’t worry; it’s not complicated.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, follow links are the best kind, the kind that gets you that coveted higher ranking, the kind you can trust.
Think of them as a high-five from another trustworthy site. You like it, the search engine likes it, and the other website likes it. All are happy.
Nofollow links are links that don’t give high-fives. Generally, no one’s moving up due to a nofollow.
It’s not that you can’t trust them (although some you can’t, details in a sec), but let’s say, for example, users are clicking your link from your Facebook page or Yelp account, both authoritative and credible, but alas, totally different than getting a high-five (an external link) from The Wall Street Journal.
With nofollow links, you tell the search engine not to follow the link (which the search engine may or may not do, but either way, the link it follows won’t get the high-five that moves said link up in ranking).
There may also be a time that you’d like to show an external link that’s considered spam or otherwise not reliable, and in this case, too, a nofollow rule should apply.
Here is the standard link: <a href=” https://propelyourcompany.com”>I love Propel Marketing &Design, Inc.</a>
Here is a nofollow link: <a href=” https://propelyourcompany.com” rel=”nofollow”> I love Propel Marketing &Design, Inc.</a>
Hate looking at source codes (my hand is raised)? Check out this Google Chrome extension MozBar and see if you’re looking at a follow or nofollow site.
You E-A-T what you sow
What’s E-A-T, you may be asking? Expert, authoritative, and trustworthy.
I mean, who doesn’t heart a good acronym, am I right? So easy to remember and soooo important to your credibility, meaning soooo important to your ranking.
If you want to be considered high-quality to the search engines (and who doesn’t?), you’re going to need to establish these attributes.
Google has this thing; it’s called their Search Quality Rater, take a look at their guidelines.
Understand, this is not an overnight job. You will need to dedicate your brand to a higher level of thinking and providing in order to reach this status. That said, once there, it’s going to be very difficult to knock yourself down.
From a link building standpoint, rest assured Google is looking at all of the sites your external links are on and making sure they’re of the E-A-T standard.
Associate yourself with already-established, popular, and reliable sites, and others will follow.
The name of the strategy-game
There are dozens of strategies you can use when link building, some quick and easy, others more costly and timely, so we’ve found some of our favorite (and easier to tackle) to share with you.
Oh no, the page is 404ed!
Have you already created quality work and been linked on credible and relevant pages? Awesome.
Have you updated your content or link? Well done.
Have you made sure to implement a 301 redirect? Oops. If not, your backlinks may be going to dead pages.
Look into it at Ahrefs and go to the easy-to-read “Best by Links” section. They’ll walk you through how to find and fix any 404 issues.
Broken links and mentions without a link
If your link building links are broken, you’ll want to fix those with the quickness.
Don’t worry; you don’t need to look at your every single backlink, use Nightwatch, to quickly find out if your links are in working order.
Also, find out where you’re mentioned using Brand24, a handy tool that will tell you if you’ve missed a linking opportunity.
Reach out to the missed opportunities and ask if they’d mind adding your link- maybe you can return the favor and so the networking begins.
Host a community event
Everyone loves to give love to their community.
By hosting an event, you’ll not only let those in your area get to know the person behind the business, but you’ll also get to add your link to the community/town/county website.
And if you’re hosting at your place of business, you’re whole NAP (name, address, phone) is there for all to see!
Contact your town officials and tell them what kind of event you’d like to have and let them help provide the advertising.
Getting the local new stations on board will contribute to the event’s success- and your link building!
Local businesses unite
A great way to link build is to partner up with other companies that go hand-in-hand with yours.
If you’re an interior designer, reach out to local builders and architects. Realtors can connect with mortgage companies.
Are there local businesses that provide the same type of service you do with varying offers?
In these ways, you can create a mutually beneficial link building campaign reaching thousands more potential customers.
Play the alumni card
Colleges usually have specific areas of their site dedicated to the sole purpose of crediting their alumni- it’s an excellent resource for your link building efforts.
Make sure that if they offer a place for your link, you’ve added it!
It’s all about who you know
If you know some peeps that have sites that offer E-A-T and are relevant to yours, ask them to link to you!
It never hurts to phone a friend, after all. This is great for networking, too.
If you decided to sign up for a Better Business Bureau listing (which costs you a bit), you’ll get a nofollow link; however, there are plenty of potential customers out there who may look to the BBB for advice on a company, and if they see you there in good standing, your credibility just went up.
So perhaps the initial link-hit isn’t going to do much, but it can certainly pay off in the long-run.
The blog comment
While commenting on relevant blogs won’t get you the link building numbers you desire, the relationship you’re forming with the relevant blogger may.
Make your comments count, and you could have an ally in your field who will not only link to you in the future but may offer you a guest spot on his blog.
Blog directory, company directory, and niche directory submissions
Do you have a blog? (Oh, please tell me you do.)
Did you know you can submit that blog to blog directories?
Do a quick Google search, find all that apply, and submit away… And just like that- your link is out there.
If you’re in Florida, submit to Florida-based company directories.
If you’re a tailor, submit to all directories related to that field.
This may take a bit of research, but you will significantly benefit your link building agenda.
If you’re invited to take part in a crowdsource post, jump on it. And congratulations.
You’ve become part of a think-tank that will value your opinion and you get to gain some notoriety while you link build.
So, say you drop a name in your blog post, go to that person’s Twitter page and tell him/her while giving him/her the link to find it.
That person, in turn, will likely retweet your post (feel free to ask them to!) and share your link across other social media platforms.
Do you send out emails? Newsletters? Whitepapers?
Every time you send an email, you have a link building opportunity in the making.
Be sure your email signature has your link, and you’ll get some website traffic, effortlessly.
While this isn’t an excellent policy for link building, if you guest blog on a reputable, relevant, and picky site, that’s a win.
Yes, send your user elsewhere (I suggest having the link open in a new window) if it makes sense and the site you’re sending to is trustworthy, do it.
You run a strong possibility of relationship-building and favor-returning.
From video to copy
Check out some influencers in your field and watch their videos. Have those videos been transcribed yet? If not, you just found a super easy way to get noticed by a super large audience!
Once you’ve transcribed the video, reach out to the influencer on social media and let them know- and your job is done.
The influencer will most likely comment back and, fingers crossed, they give you a shout-out or share your transcript. Beautiful.
Check your local listings
We talked about directories earlier, same applies here.
Make sure you’re on all the well-known listings out there, as well as the smaller, localized lists.
You’ll be surprised at how many you can find.
Take it offline
Go old-school with your marketing tactics.
Hand out business cards, network at the bar, the school, the grocery store.
Talk to people – it’s a tried and true form of marketing that will lead to more business and likely more link shares.
A profile link may or may not help with your link building efforts.
When you sign up on other sites, usually there’s a profile page to fill out and often there’s a place for you to add your link.
If the site is relevant and legit, why not do it? It’s not going to hurt you and it may get you some hits you wouldn’t have otherwise received.
Questions and answers
Sites devoted to asking and answering questions are a way to get you some attention.
Although you’ll be building nofollow links, they can lead to traffic.
Check out Reddit, Quora, or Yahoo! Answers, ask a question that you answer and add your website as a source for the answer.
Remember to stay concise and trustworthy.
Be a sponsor
Becoming a sponsor is a great way to get seen and can be a fun way to network, too.
From grassroots to worldwide, put your name into the sponsor pool and you’ll get your link out there.
The no-no list: What not to do when link building
Some algorithms will 100% catch you should you decide to try and beat the system.
So, our advice, just don’t.
It won’t be worth it and will set you back financially while putting you on Google’s radar in a real bad way.
Here are the big no-nos:
Don’t buy links
You’re supposed to be earning your search engine spot, not buying it.
Stay classy and do it ethically.
Not only will you get a major penalty should you try and buy, but you’ll lose time, energy, and respect.
Don’t create BS comments
If you’re reading a blog and it’s resonating, and you have something meaningful to contribute, great- comment away.
If not, and you’re just commenting for the sake of adding your link- you’ll be called out for it.
You don’t want to be known as a spam site, so don’t make that mistake.
The random link exchange
While it’s good practice to link to, and be linked from, businesses you know, trust, and are of mutual benefit- it’s not good if you’re exchanging links with random businesses having nothing to do with you and what you do.
This reeks of spamminess and the search engines will smell it.
Say it like it is
Some very deceptive players may show the search engines content that differs from the content that’s actually on the website. Oh, that’s bad and you’ll be knocked way down.
Take a look at these Link Schemes, and you’ll get a full picture of what’s expected, or should we say, not expected of you.
Bottom line, do it the right way the first time, and you’ll be rewarded!
Tools of the trade
There are loads of tools out there that will help up your link building game, and we say, take full advantage. Your competitors are.
Link building tools:
Ahref: You can get easy-to-understand reports delineating all you need to know about your organic traffic, link research, and giving you outstanding customer service.
BuzzSumo: Easily find the authors, influencers, and bloggers you need to know through advanced filtering methods. Not only can you determine the authors, but you can also search all the shares they achieved as well.
Link Assistant: This inexpensive little tool will give you prospecting insights you’ll covet.
Followerwonk: Social media gives way to great link building; this tool, specific to Twitter, will find, analyze, and optimize social growth.
SEO SpyGlass: We love this one- it spies on your competitors as it monitors your backlinks- easy to use and accurate, it’s a fierce tool.
Link Detox: This will help you get rid of any spammy links that are bringing you down and get your backlink profile in good form.
GroupHigh: Helps find all the influencers you want in your little black book and their blogger outreach is on par with nothing else.
Google Alerts: Free, just type in what you want to be alerted to and you’ll get a notice. Easy.
Your link building campaign is made to get you the audience and the traffic you desire, in doing this, you’ll get those conversions which equates to a solid ROI.
Bonus, your campaign will also generate higher placement on SERP. Nice!
But don’t be fooled into thinking this is an easy task to accomplish or that you’re going to see overnight results.