Why do we build links?
There are many reasons that we build links. The first reason should be to help people find the relevant parts of your site. We don’t build links just to send visitors to the site, there is no point in having 5000 people come to your site that sells sprockets if they aren’t interested in sprockets. Anyone with very minor skill can drive thousands of links to a website without much difficulty. We build links however to drive the right traffic to the website.
We also build links so that the search engines know where we are, what we are about and how important we are.
Keys to link building?
Some of the keys to link building are to add value for the web searchers, and that they need to be relevant and natural! Yes we ask people for links and such, however we should only be asking website owners to put links on sites and places where the link would be relevant.
There would be no point in having a link to a Truck Repair Services website on a site that specialized in Document Management? (Yes, I worked for a company that thought this was ok…)
You also don’t want to have a link on a website that says “click here to go to www.randomtruckrepairs.com”. Instead, you may want to have the link just say “Truck Repairs” that then goes to a page on your truck repair site that is more relevant to the visitor. Having a relevant Anchor Link can go a long way into having Google see the relevance of the link to your website!
Some ways that I do it?
If you read my previous blog about keywords that is a good start. Keywords are… Well… The key. Before I start my link building campaigns, I make sure that I have a good solid understanding of the keywords that content that I am trying to promote. I have already completed my onsite SEO making sure my titles, h-tags, keyword density, etc… is solid. I also make sure that I know what content I am going to start linking to first. I break my content pages down into priorities.
This process should have already been completed as part of your content creation and prioritization strategy. Maybe I will put together a blog post about how I manage the content strategy…
So since we have the content prioritized and our keywords properly identified, we can start looking for backlinking opportunities.
There are many tools that can help with this, however I suggest starting with Microsoft Excel. Always put the backlinks that you find into Excel so that you better manage and track them going forward.
For competitive link finding, I use Open Site Explorer. This allows me to put in my competitors URLs and see who is linking to them. This is a great start. I can then take all of my competitors links and throw them into scrapebox to get even more data, such as the type of site that it is, WordPress, Blogger, Forums, etc… As well as whether or not they are “dofollow” or “nofollow” links, and their Page Rank.
A lot of people that I talk to say that there is no reason to go after nofollow links. I happen to disagree with this completely! I have a personal algorithm that I use to rank backlinks, and I may give nofollow pages a slightly lower point, but they are still valuable links and have done some tests where I have used nothing but nofollow links and still received decent rankings in Google.
Contacting Potential Linkers (site owners)
The key to contacting site owners, is to be personal! Be direct. Don’t use a standard shitty form letter! Read their blogs, or look through their sites, get to know it, and them. See what their interests are. If they’re on Google Plus, Facebook and or Twitter, reach out to them there. I have way more success reaching out to someone in the social space then I do by sending them an email. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have never allowed someone a link spot that has emailed me! Especially emailed me using a “Dear (first name)” type form letter.
Now, someone reaching out to me and saying, “hey what’s up Patrick”, or something like that, may end up getting my attention. So think about how you would want to be contacted. Also think about how they use their blog and their site and such. Reach out to them in their language. The chances of getting a response are much better.
Another great way to get links has always been to guest write on other peoples websites. If you’re doing SEO, I am making the assumption that you already know how to do advanced boolean queries with Google? Well, use those queries and do some searches for your keywords, and terms like guest post, guest writer, etc… Then, just like above, don’t just use a form letter. Actually investigate and get personal to learn about the site that you want to post on, also do some research to understand the value of that site, what’s it’s PR, rough traffic estimates, what kind of writers to they usually accept? This type of information will help you when you do reach out to them to ask for an opportunity to write for them!
Directories, Forums, and Blog Commenting
Do I really need to talk about these? Okay, you are kind enough to read this, so I guess I should. Get a coop student, or an intern, generate a list of these types of sites and turn them lose. These are the easy ones. If you can’t get a thousand of these in a week as an SEO taking your time, then you aren’t doing your job properly. The weight that the search engines give these is questionable though. I still do it, but I don’t think there is a lot of value. This is straight forward though. Use your tools (scrapebox in my case), and find a few thousand or tens of thousands of these, throw them into your spreadsheet and track them as you get on them. Easy enough.Just make sure that you have targeted the right ones.
The other one that you have to be leery of are .edu links. I can give you 20,000 .edu links tomorrow. The problem is, google is on to us. They know that .edu links were of great value, and so do the students. Therefore you can find a TON of spammy links out their on university sites. Students would happily sell you links on their sites. Therefore, you have to think the value that these have now are not as great as they once were. However… If you can get some prime .edu links within the site that are not on the student pages, say perhaps links to content that is relevant to the university and to your site… Those can be quite valuable. They are just a little trickier to get, and not many of us will share those secrets with you. Sorry.
If you are looking for more guidance, check out the this post on Link Building Strategies, or this post on Linkbait and Infographics
So this is just a brief look at some of the stuff that goes on in my link building backpack. There are reasons for every link that I get for a client, whether or not they are nofollow, have high PR, or whatever doesn’t always play into it. I do what I have done for many years and what I have found to be effective for my clients. It’s all about finding the balance for you.