Link Building is one of the key components of SEO, and it’s not going anywhere – so you better do it right. Many SEOs spend a lot of their time in link building activities, however you can easily do it wrong and end up marked as a spammer. To avoid mistakes and do things right I want to share with you a list of 5 key activities that good link building professionals engage in on a regular basis.
- Systematic internal link building
Google loves websites which are internally linked. Here’s why: an internally linked website is much easier to navigate for visitors than one which is not. Additionally, internal linking helps you create a (logical) structure of information. Internally linked website also have a much better spread of juice or ranking power over the whole domain, which is much better than a few pages ranked very high and the rest somewhere being on page 7 of SERPs. Finally, a more technical reason has to with search engine crawlers that index pages – a well internally linked website is easy for crawlers to “crawl” through. A key result of faster indexing is the relative freshness of your content which is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.
So how should you go about internally linking your website? I personally recommend creating a mind map, which can help you organize your web pages by hierarchy or by topics and by keywords you want to rank your website on.
The three characteristics of a well internally linked website:
- the links are created following some sort of hierarchy (e.g. flow of information complexity)
- there is vertical (a sub-page to category or vice versa) and lateral linking (one sub-page to another)
- all of the links give “juice” or ranking power to each other (i.e. the are “dofollow” links)
It is also a good idea to add the target=”blank” attribute to all links, this will make sure that any link the visitor clicks on opens a new tab. This way even if the visitor clicks on an outbound link, he hasn’t left your web page.
- Reciprocal link building through curated content
Right off the bat: zero outbound links make your site a dead-end for visitors and crawlers and you want to avoid that. On the other hand linking to just any site is also a bad idea. So that leaves you with the conclusion: link to other sites but make sure they are relevant and trustworthy.
Now remains the question of “how”. This is where curated content kicks in – by it’s very nature, curated content is pre-selected and we “the humans” love pre-selection. It saves us from having to find out for ourselves what is worth our time and what is a waste of our time.
So what will curated content do for you? If done well curating content will position you as a reliable source of relevant and authoritative content. As you gain (and maintain) authority you become valuable to the sites that you are linking to, and you can expect reciprocity in link building. Do keep in mind that reciprocal linking for the sake of linking will be negative in the long run, but if you keep the user and subject at the centre, you will be alright.
A quick tip on how to find fresh content periodically – create keyword specific alerts that prompt you as soon a new content is indexed.
- Tracking competitors’ link building activities
SEO is by and large a game of competition, as is any other game where one player is ranked against another. You are number 6 on the SERPs because there are 5 other who are better than you. It is important to know what your competitors are up to in regards to their link building activities.
Questions such as: what (kind of) websites do they target for link building? What are their focus keywords? How high do they rank for your focus keywords and theirs?
In essence you want to make sure you are focusing on similar if not the same websites as you competitors. Target your ranking for similar (in addition to your own focus) keywords in order to consistently rank higher than you competitors.
- Networking for link building
One of the things that set apart a great link building professional from an average one is the ability to connect with topic relevant players. A great link building professional will actively connect with influencers and multipliers and keep contact with them. Most reputable websites don’t even open link acquisition emails or if they open they click the delete button – if they already know you it’s a different story.
Social behaviour on the net is immensely rewarding in the long run. So you should periodically contribute to the success of others and cultivate relationships. Connect with people on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other networks.
A few easy ways to find topic related people:
- do #hashtag searches on Twitter with your focus keywords (e.g. #linkbuilding)
- join LinkedIn groups which are relevant and are frequented by industry experts
- set up notifications for any new content by industry influencers and try to comment as one of the first people.
- Diversifying link building portfolio
Getting 10 links from 1 website is good but getting 1 link from 10 websites is awesome. The question is not whether you should diversify your link building portfolio (cause you absolutely should), but how to go about it.
Here are a few recommendations: use keyword based research to find the most relevant websites for your topic. Track the websites to stay updated on the new content they create related to your focus keywords. Check where they are currently linked and find out if you can offer something better to link to. You can also occasionally go off topic – if it is not done frequently, you won’t get a penalty”.
To sum it up in a quick recap: Systematically internally link your web pages with each other for better navigation and ranking power spreading Create opportunities for reciprocal link building by curating content Closely track your competitors’ link building practices Build rapport with your peers and create mutually beneficial relationships Focus on a broad set of sources for your link building
Systematically internally link your web pages with each other for better navigation and ranking power spreading
Create opportunities for reciprocal link building by curating content
Closely track your competitors’ link building practices
Build rapport with your peers and create mutually beneficial relationships
Focus on a broad set of sources for your link building
For more related articles check out:
9 Must Read Articles on SEO and Link Building for 2014
How Link Building Strategies in 2014 Are Not Just For Google Rankings
How do you approach link building? Would you agree, disagree with the examples and analysis? Do you have other examples of how link building can be done? Please share your comments, ideas and especially your criticisms.