Having established links are like votes it’s not too hard to understand why links are important. Just like a politician wins an election by securing more votes than other candidates, web pages secure the first position in a search result by securing more votes than other pages. However, unlike a political election where all votes are equal, where search engines are concerned this isn’t the case, and this is where most of the confusion arises.
However…..Links Are Not All Equal
In order to explain this further I’m going to stick with the voting analogy and expand on it. When thinking about links as votes it’s useful to consider the term block vote or block voting. Most commonly associated with unions a block vote infers upon one person the voting rights of all members of an organisation. Let’s say there are 4 people in a room each representing one group of people.
A proposal is put before the group and Mr Smith, Mr Jones and Ms Samson all vote in favour with Mrs Collins voting against. On the face of it that’s 3 in favour 1 against and the proposal would be carried. However, Mrs Collins represents a group of 5000 people, 500 more than the number represented by Mr Smith, Mr Jones and Ms Samson so in fact, the motion isn’t carried, it’s defeated by 5000 votes to 4500.
This is pretty much the same as the way links work. Simply put links carry different voting rights and it’s perfectly possible for a page with only 3 or 4 links to rank higher than a page with several hundred or even several thousand links. It’s this aspect of link building that’s so badly misunderstood and the reason there’s a whole industry offering to build links on the basis of X number of links for Y number of dollars.
So how to create quality backlinks for your website?
In this article, I want to talk about what a backlink is and how to go about building up a strong network of backlinks to improve your site’s search ranking, all while still staying in the good graces of the search engines and your visitors.
Put Links in the Comments of Related Blog Articles
Now, you don’t want to spam these links – Google will recognize and penalize them, to say nothing of how quickly blog owners will delete them (though regular, organic comments will be fine).
Basically, links should only be posted alongside meaningful comments and on relevant topics. Google Alerts can help you identify good places to do this. Now, these links aren’t very helpful for improving your authority, but they do bring traffic, and especially appropriate links might even be edited into the main article.
Here’s Matt Cutts to affirm you that as long as you do not spam links on blog comments, only drop links organically, you’ll be fine and Google will not penalize you.
Step 1: Find articles related to your blog’s topic. As we mentioned above, Google Alerts can help with this, but the key point is the relevance. The more the blog matches what you’re doing, the easier it is to add natural, organic links.
Step 2: Leave meaningful and valuable comments. Don’t simply say “Hey, great post” and then drop in a link – that’s spam. Instead, try focusing on an idea in the article, providing a nuanced and measured response, and wrapping up with a link to an article that continues your ideas and helps further explain why you feel the way you do. Remember, if you come off as both authoritative and intelligent, people are more likely to click. Your audience is the blog’s other readers, and they are the ones you should be writing for.
Niche Relevant Guest Posts
Guest posts are effective in two ways. First, if you contribute lots of value, it will build your authority in the space. Second, your guest post can send relevant referral traffic to your website.
Keep in mind that Google frowns upon spammy guest posting. That means you need to focus your efforts on producing a valuable guest post. If you give value, then there is nothing wrong with injecting backlinks to your website.
To get the most out of your guest posts, you need to get contextual links. Contextual links are far more powerful than author byline links.
That’s the cool thing about our blogger outreach service. Since we write the content in a ghost writing format, we place your links within the meat of the article. That way, it looks like a genuine recommendation for your website.
Step 1: Search for blogs that are in a relevant niche, have a high domain authority, and a higher Alexa rank than your blog. The site should also allow dofollow links and have an author profile that adds some weight and authenticity. If the blog isn’t both relevant and high-quality, it’s not worth posting on.
Step 2: Reach out to the blog’s owner and build a relationship. You can sign up to any newsletters they offer, follow them on social media, leave comments on their blog posts… don’t just be a business trying to promote yourself. In general, the more you give, the more you will get back.
Step 3: Ask to put up a guest post after establishing your relationship with them and demonstrating that you have things that are worth saying.
Step 4: Write an article that’s suitable for their existing audience. It should not be focused on self-promotion – instead, emphasize a relevant subject and your own stance upon it. The reader should finish the article and feel either entertained or educated.
Step 5: If allowed, drop a few links into the article. They don’t all need to point to you – links should be added in a natural way, and there can be some added value in linking to your site alongside credible or any other high-authority sources.
Step 6: Write an author profile for the post that has a link to your best opt-in page.
Submit To Blogging Communities
Blogging communities are another excellent way of getting noticed by people who are interested in reading blogs. Sites like Blog Engage, Inbound, GrowthHackers and Bizsugar all offer access to a wider community and can help you get a number of excellent links back to your blog.
Be sure to vet each site before you submit a blog post to it, though – remember, you don’t want to be associated with spam sites, and some blogging communities are precisely that.
Our personal favorite community to submit content to is Inbound.org. Inbound is a website that caters mainly to inbound marketers, which is in our niche and target audience.
Step 1: Look for blog communities that are relevant to your niche. (You may be noticing something of a pattern here – relevance is always an important consideration)
Step 2: Create a profile on the community and add some links back to your own page. Remember that links should give people a reason to follow them, not just be inserted in with no accompaniment. Nobody is ever going to click on your links unless they have a good reason to do so, and making sure you give them one is one of the most important parts of link-building.
Step 3: Start engaging with the rest of the blogging community. Consider things like upvoting certain posts, leaving comments, and starting new discussions. Obviously, what sorts of conversations you’ll be having depends on the nature of the community – some are far more professional in nature than others, and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
Step 4: Post your own content and ask for feedback. Be sure to wait until you’re a truly established member of the community. Once you’re seen as “one of them”, it’s far easier to get people to click on your links and listen to what you have to say.
Broken Link Building
This one takes some effort, but it’s actually quite effective at getting new links. When you’re reading blogs, you can take the time to search for old, broken links that are dragging the blog down… and ask the blog’s owner to replace them with links to your own content. Most are willing to do so as long as your content is fresh and accurate.
Step 1: Go to blogs that are relevant to your overall niche. This is another case where you’ll want a good association – essentially, the blog should have a reason to link to your own.
Step 2: Use a Broken Link Checker to search for broken links within the blog. These may or may not exist – due to the nature of the internet, it’s basically impossible to predict how many there will be, but most blogs that have been around for a long time have some broken links.
Step 3: Alert the blog’s owner to the broken links and ask them to replace them with links to your own blog. Make this easy for them by showing them exactly which pages the broken links are on.
Other methods for creating quality backlinks
- Forums – The most common link building techniques using forums are to create a profile page and a signature link. Signature links allow links to be created at the bottom of posts or comments you leave in a forum. Signature links are at best very low quality and although they may send you some traffic are unlikely to have any long lasting impact on the pages you link to. This is because these links are not merit based, as is the case with all link spam methods, and it’s accepted the search engines are getting better at ignoring these links and assigning them no value.
- Link farms – These are employed by many link building companies. A link farm can often have a vast number of websites and web pages within it, all under the control of the link building company. By building a link farm link building companies are able to offer a set number of links for a set fee as they have plenty of web real estate on which to build the links. The problem with link farms is they can be discovered by the search engines and when they are, the links within them will cease to have any positive impact on the sites they link to. There are a number of variations on this theme including a technique where link building companies buy pages within legitimate websites in an attempt to appear credible.
- Directories – These are useful and can create links carrying some value in the sense of attracting traffic to your website. But, in another sense, they are a form of spam; and, as with other spam techniques, links from directories are generally not merit based and as such rarely carry any weight in terms of helping to increase your ranking. There are, however, some notable exceptions such as the DMOZ directory and Yahoo.
- Hubs – These are pages created on services such as Squidoo. In theory Squidoo hub pages or lenses as they are called by this particular service are a great idea and allow people to create pages about something they care about. Sadly the spammers have also realised it’s an easy way to create pages for link building so it’s a fair assumption using hubs such as this won’t have any lasting or hugely positive impact on your website.
- Social bookmarks – In their early days social bookmarking sites may have been a source of valuable links but the link spammers have put an end to that. Most of the credible bookmarking sites (Digg, Sphinn etc) recognised their platforms were being abused by link spammers and as a result they nofollow links to deter them.
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