Once upon a time, websites could litter their content with keywords and see their Google rankings skyrocket. Then came the Penguin. This algorithm changed how websites were ranked, prioritizing quality over keyword stuffing. Websites that were once on page one of the SERP plummeted into the abyss.
Backlinks were also affected by the change, but not to the same degree. High-quality backlinks are one of the most effective ways to bolster your website’s SEO and rank above the competition. Here are three essential link building tips for your website.
1. Focus on Outreach
Outreach, in simplest terms, is reaching out to related sites and connecting them to your content. Outreach is one of the most effective link building techniques and can be accomplished in various ways, including keyword link requests, direct mentions, and link replacement.
A) Keyword Link Requests
First and foremost, you’ll need to conduct research and determine who you should be connecting with. You can do so by searching for people who have either mentioned your niche or preferred keywords in their content.
A nutrition coach who has great content about the keyword “Keto diet” may reach out to bloggers who have mentioned those topics in their content, then refer them to their own content and ask them to consider adding a link. By having your content linked to this keyword, you’ll improve your relevance to the subject.
B) Direct Mentions
In addition to searching for relevant keywords, look for direct mentions. A blogger might passively mention “I use Trello for my project planning” during a blog post within their niche. Trello could then thank the blogger for the mention and request a link back to their product page or blog. This is a simple-yet-effective way to start link building.
C) Link Replacement
Link replacement involves taking links from competing sites by providing a better alternative. Using the example above, perhaps there is a link to a short blurb on the Keto diet on a website with a link to a short article outlining the subject. By providing a link to higher quality content on the same subject, you can replace your ranking competition’s link with your own.
2. Strategize Your Anchor Text
The anchor text is the word or words that show up with a link attached in a piece of content. Anything from a direct mention of a business to a simple “go here” can be an effective anchor.
Anchor text plays a crucial role in ranking, from both a proactive and preventative standpoint. On the one hand, having the right anchor text in place can help boost SEO when crawled by Google. On the other hand, having “too perfect” of an anchor text selection can cause your page to be down-ranked, thanks to the Penguin.
During outreach, you may wish to request a slight change to the anchor text. When choosing which anchor text to use, it’s important to take a varied approach throughout the articles you are backlinking with. A combination of natural, naked, and partial keyword will provide the best coverage for the Google bot without setting off any alarms.
*Pro Tip from OutreachMama: Exact matches should occur 1% of the time, if not less.
3. Incorporate “Lower Value” Linking
While outreach link building strategies will yield the greatest results, it’s not the most natural, expansive approach. It’s important to dedicate some time to the link building strategies that are perceived as lower value.
A site with links coming from both high and low profile referral sites will create a natural portfolio that is more likely to rank high with Google, and less likely to be penalized.
Posting on public forums like Reddit and Quora often result in a nofollow link, which means that many brands choose not to “waste their time” with this task. The decision is misguided. Having links from these sites, even ‘nofollow’ links diversifies your content portfolio. Additionally, it builds brand awareness by directing readers who value your input to click your link and drive traffic to your site.
Commenting on blogs (or on Medium!), in particular, can help you build a rapport with the author, which will make them more willing to participate in your outreach efforts.
Final Thoughts On These Link Building Tips
- Focus on outreach
- Keyword link requests
- Direct mentions
- Link replacements
- Anchor text strategy does matter
- ‘Nofollow’ link building is still helpful
The link building tips outlined above, paired with tools like Ahrefs (a personal favorite that helps identify potential targets for outreach efforts) and MarketMuse (helps with keyword optimization and content creation), will set you on the path to SEO success.
Outsourcing to someone with experience in link building is also an option, however, be very cautious of most ‘link building agencies’. A safer bet may to try hiring someone with the title ‘SEO Outreach Manager’.