If you’ve spent time trying to gain exposure on the internet, you probably know how important link building is. Links are how we share great content with others. We all love to share the things we love, and search engines, being the creation of humans, strongly utilize these signals. In order to provide relevant and authoritative content to their users, search engines measure the quantity and quality of inbound links pointing to a piece of content. This has made the simple gesture of sharing content into a powerful tool in online marketing.
You see, somewhere along the way, SEOs figured out that if a particular website had enough inbound links with exact keyword match anchor texts like the below example, its search engine ranking for that term could significantly improve.
Hey, Bob! Check out these cool pants I found! I think they’re perfect for you.
A mutant spam variation of legitimate linking/content sharing then began to pollute blogs and forums all across the internet, clearly serving no purpose other than to manipulate search engine rankings via exact match anchor text links.
Venerable mister, I have found upon your article. It seems good.
No one likes to deal with spam. This is especially true if you own a blog or forum. This blog alone would receive tens of thousands of spam comments if there weren’t a filter in place. However, until fairly recently, this spam could only benefit a website’s search engine growth, so there was no reason to stop this sort of practice… until Google stepped in.
The world’s biggest search engine wasn’t fond of having its results manipulated. Therefore, they unleashed the Penguin algorithm in April, 2012. It was a forceful crackdown on black hat SEO, and many websites that utilized spammy techniques to game search engine results experienced a sharp decline in rankings and traffic. Now, love it or hate it, Google has released the fourth iteration of its algorithm, “Penguin 2.0” and the noose has further tightening around traditional link building techniques.
It’s not that link building is dead. It’s still the primary way to get you on page one of Google. Now you just have to embrace the methods that are more in accordance with Google’s quality guidelines and focus more on creating future proof links.
However, before you go about getting links in this post Penguin 2.0 world, make sure that you have the best website possible. You’ll hear this over and over again from Google, so you may as well give it your best shot. Start by measuring your website alongside your competitors’ and keep improving yours until you are completely confident that your website is THE website to go to for information/products/services in your field/location. Fill its pages with quality content. Write informative, insightful content about your field and share your knowledge and passion about what you do with your visitors. Now that you’ve built it, it’s only a matter of getting them to come. Here’s where the link building comes into play.
Are you aware of any reputable or authoritative blogs in your niche? If not, dig around a little and see what you find. Look for ones that appear to have an active, engaged audience. Stay away from anything that seems spammy or deserted. Once you’ve located a few of value, write some unique and insightful articles that you believe would be of value to their audience.
Reach out to these blogs and ask if they would be willing to publish your articles in exchange for a link to your website. They get nice content and you get a link. Just be sure that you’re providing them with content that is unique! Don’t send the same article to multiple blogs at once. Also, don’t go stealing someone else’s content and posing it as your own. Duplicate web content is penalized by Google, so you may inadvertently burn a few bridges and harm your efforts regardless of your intentions. Provide unique, quality content, and you may get a few links in return.
Ask for a Share or Link
Not much of a writer or can’t come up with a valuable topic? You can always cut that part out and simply ask for a share or link. Just make sure you’re soliciting RELEVANT and QUALITY blogs and websites. When asking for a link, try not to sweat the anchor text. An abundance of exact match anchor text inbound links can get you in hot water with Penguin. That’s fine, because a natural inbound link from a high quality website will pay off regardless of the anchor text. Here are some tips for writing outreach emails courtesy of Moz:
Let’s say you have your own blog (and if not, you should!). You’re regularly updating it with new and interesting content. Why not share that content on Twitter, Facebook and Google+? Twitter, in particular, allows you to locate users based on key words, phrases and questions they’ve included in past tweets. It’s a great way to track down potentially interested parties. Social media is great for link building, because the more you can get people to share your content, the more quality, natural links you receive. It’s also very worth noting that social signals influence a website’s performance in search, so there’s no excuse to slack off here.
You can even mix your social media in with your link acquisition efforts. Why not try to engage a web owner or author on Twitter prior to sending them a solicitation email? This is likely to be more effective than asking for a link out of the blue without any prior interaction. Here’s some good advice on that.
All in all, just keep pumping out great content and generate interest in it via social media and the blogosphere. That’s the cycle you need to follow to produce Google/Penguin friendly links. Avoid “bad neighborhoods” and keep link anchor text diverse (again, we suggest leaving that up to the site linking to you). Try not to get frustrated when the links don’t come so easily at first. Like riding a bicycle, you’ll find that once you get a few, they get easier and easier as you’ve built relationships and a rock solid reputation on the web.