Building link popularity is one of the most critical and misunderstood aspects of search engine marketing. Incoming links account for approximately 40% of why you rank – and yet link building is also one of the most-ignored or poorly done tactics. The Moz 2013 search engine ranking factors indicate the following:
- Links are a primary part of the algorithm (approximately 40%).
- On-page optimization using keywords is still a primary factor, or at least a basic prerequisite.
- Social factors are not a very important ranking factor (only 7%), but do correlate well with high rankings.
According to the Moz survey, “Looking into the future, SEOs see a shift away from traditional ranking factors (anchor text, exact match domains, etc.) to deeper analysis of a site’s perceived value to users, authorship, structured data, and social signals.” But currently, as Matt Cutts of Google says, “I think backlinks still have many, many years left in them,” which means that currently and in the near future, getting other quality sites to link to you is critical.
If the survey holds true and in the future links get devalued a bit and are replaced with a website’s perceived value, authorship, influence, and social signals, etc., then building a shareable blog and link assets, like resource pages and infographics based on your thought leader content, are not going to go to waste!
So what link building techniques should you do? Let’s look at what others have been doing first. The five most effective link building techniques according to the 2013 Moz link building survey:
Let’s review each of these link building tactics briefly, because a lot has happened since 2013:
Press coverage – Getting written about in major media sites is fantastic and is a great thing to strive for. Beware, however, that if you use free press release submission sites and pump out a bunch of useless press releases, you’ll very likely get slapped by Penguin and your ranks are going to go down.
Guest blogging – A few million bad apples spoiled the lot on this one. Because so many people are abusing guest blog posting, Matt Cutts said “Stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done.” If you can become a regular columnist on a real blog or get honestly featured on a significant site, then I think it’s okay, but if you do it as though you’re performing article submissions, you’ll be setting yourself up for round two of a Penguin slap.
Infographic placements – If you have a high-quality infographic that goes with a legitimate survey, like the Moz ranking factors, then go for it. But if you are pumping out info-crap-graphics, then quit while you’re ahead. Broken link building – this one of our favorite link building techniques, and it is covered below.
Resource page links – This is another link building technique that we love and I’ll cover it below.
Link Building Strategies and Tactics – If people online are talking about your content and sharing your content with their peers, they’re also linking to your content on their social media profiles, blogs, and websites. When search engines see loads of earned links pointing to you, you prove demonstrable authority and importance and are granted more visibility in search engine results.
We can help you show Google and other search engines just how important you and your company/content are. If you’re looking to outsource link building, McDougall Interactive provides white hat link building packages that can include, where appropriate:
Backlink Analysis (Step 1) We will analyze your current link status and provide a comparison to competitors to start the link building strategy. What you don’t want your backlink profile to look like is this below. Here you can see lots of crappy directories and similar looking domains (plus an unnatural amount of foreign domain extensions). These look like some kind of spammy foreign network, just built for gaming Google:
Here are three examples of some of the top 100 most disavowed links: theglobe.org/theglobe.net/the-globe.com
If you visit all three of these sites, they all look exactly the same. This is likely someone building an artificial network (which Google can easily spot).
Sites like this linking to you can get you penalized. We had two recent clients have links from these sites and they had no idea how they linked to them. If you do have bad links and get a manual penalty, you may get details from Google like this:
Here are some examples of links which Google felt were against its quality guidelines.
Bad link removal service (Step 2) Once we’ve identified bad backlinks, it’s critical to remove them right away. All of our SEO and link building packages include a Penguin repair service, because you absolutely have to get in Google’s good graces concurrently with performing good content marketing and high-quality link building.
Bot blocking and scraper stopping (Step 3) Unethical websites use a process called scraping to grab your content and throw it up on their website in hopes that Google will ignore the duplicate content and give them some longtail search rankings. We’ll help you stop this kind of activity, so that your link building resembles the power of Hercules more than the punishment of Sisyphus – a repetitive cycle of finding and removing bad links.
Generating link bait ideas (Step 4) The image below shows the amount of links to the most linked-to pages on Search Engine Land. There are more than 5,000 pages with more than 10 incoming links, so I can get plenty of link bait ideas from this. Looks like Google Hummingbird content is worth writing a resource page about, given that 1,956 people are linking to a page about it. “What is SEO?” is apparently another great topic!
Here is another example of pages that get lots of backlinks:
The following spreadsheet is something we call common or co-occurring link analysis. It shows you who is linking to numerous competitors of yours and potentially not to you. That’s a great way to find the common sites that link to your type of content. Often these are important sites to get links from.
White hat link building packages (Step 5) We will identify several strategies to gain additional links for your campaign, and we may provide some or all of these strategies over the course of our working together.
- Common Link Building – We’ll build a co-occurring/common link report based on your list of competitors. Where you don’t have a backlink from a common link in your industry, we’ll develop a strategy and outreach campaign for obtaining it.
- Resource Pages – We’ll create a content asset unique to your website (often a resource article, and may occasionally contain an infographic if truly appropriate) that will attract backlinks from other sites. Once we’ve determined that the content concept is acceptable to you, we’ll create/write/design the content and place it on your website. We’ll then reach out to various high-quality sites, making them aware of your newly created content and how it may fit in nicely editorially with certain pages on their site.
- Broken Link Bait – We’ll search for a broken link on a high-ranking website with a large amount of other sites also linking back to this specific missing page (sometimes available on the Wayback machine at archive.org). Once we’ve determined if the content is acceptable to you, we’ll recreate and improve the content and place it on your website. We’ll then reach out to all of those sites who link to the broken content, asking them to post a link to your newly created/improved content. This actually really helps clean up the web and is a service to websites with broken links. We’ve found the conversion rate for obtaining backlinks is a lot higher than other methods when you are able to start the conversation by pointing out that some of the links on the prospect’s site go to content that no longer exists and result in a 404 error.
- Public Relations can also be a great way to get links. While our complete public relations packages are an additional fee, from time to time we may point out radio shows or various PR opportunities where you might be able to get a backlink (when you’re on our SEO retainer). An occasional high-quality press release submitted on MarketWire can also be beneficial (as long as you have legitimate news that could turn into an actual journalist writing a story about you and linking to you). Some examples of PR links we got for ourselves include the New York Times and numerous radio shows. Being in the news frequently is not only great for reputation, but is good for Google as well.
We’ll do the appropriate blend of link building/PR/content bait as your site needs and the changing market dictates. Link building tactics change so frequently that we need to adjust our campaigns based on the current climate and the Google weather report.
Cheap link building techniques to avoid
Years ago, you could trade reciprocal links or rely on article marketing, but now the options are not so simple and the following cheap link building techniques should largely be avoided.
- Directory submissions (consider only a small handful – like a half dozen or so of high-quality directories like Yahoo.com, Dmoz, or extremely high-quality/“real” niche directories)
- Article creation and submission (run as fast as you can)
- Forum link building (take part only to honestly share ideas)
- Anchor text over-optimization (worry less about the keywords in the links you get and more about quality)
- Paid links (absolutely not)
- Free and/or overuse of press release creation and submission (never use free submission services or do press releases just for the backlinks in the release syndication)
As you can see, link building is now as difficult as public relations. Most PR companies charge around $5,000 to $10,000 a month or more, and that’s what high-level link building should cost. Because not everyone can pay that amount for link building, we’ve found a way to do a small amount of high-quality link building, included in our monthly retainer packages. We also have a very fairly priced monthly starting retainer for just link building, which will be increasing in price shortly.
High-quality link building packages
If you would like standalone link building, just a few of our options are as follows:
- One high-quality resource page/linkbait and outreach: $3,750 (one-time package – performed over 2-3 months)
- Monthly retainers start at $2,500 a month, unless you’re enrolled in our monthly SEO packages
- Like and share contests start at $5,000 and correlate highly with more links
- New: Industry survey linkbait starts at $15,000
- New: Industry award programs start at $10,000
What other SEO companies may not tell you is that quality, not just quantity, matters when Google and other search engines are assessing the overall importance of your website. Contact us today for a high-quality link building service that will get you on the right track!