Are you seeing less than desirable results from your link building efforts? If so, you’re probably using outdated link building strategies. And it’s not your fault. Outdated link building advice is everywhere, and unless you’re a professional SEO expert, it’s hard to discern proper link building advice. A large portion of link building advice is archaic, and no longer effective. In fact, some outdated link building strategies can harm your website’s reputation in search engines.
If you approach link building simply as a way to rank in Google, you’ll miss a broad range of benefits. Link building is primarily misunderstood due to its past reputation as a method for gaming the system. However, search engines today, including Google, measure the value of each link. These days, search engine algorithms can no longer be manipulated by the quantity of links pointing to a website.
To avoid outdated link building advice, and zero in on what’s working in today’s digital landscape, try these six strategies and measure your results for at least 90 days. When done correctly, these strategies will produce measurable results.
1. Take time to understand what link building achieves
Link building is one of the most important components of a powerful search engine optimization strategy. It’s also considered one of the most difficult elements of SEO, according to a survey conducted by Seattle marketing firm SEO.co.
To help marketers better understand this vital aspect of SEO, SEO.co published a thorough guide for link building that includes some helpful wisdom:
- Five unique benefits to link building: The art of link building is about more than simply getting traffic. The benefits outlined in the guide are brand visibility, reputation by affiliation, referral traffic, SEO, and ongoing return. These five benefits work together to generate measurable results in terms of traffic, lead acquisition, and sales.
- Why you should produce guest content: Producing guest content for external publishers is beneficial for all involved. Guest posting is when you produce content tailored to a publisher’s audience, and in exchange, they allow you to insert your link naturally into the article. Starting with small publishers is a great way to earn the authority necessary to supply guest content to higher-authority publishers.
- There is a difference between domain authority and page authority: Domain authority is important because it influences how your webpages will rank in the search engines. You can increase your overall domain authority by increasing page authority through link building. The more page authority you generate, the more domain authority you’ll accrue. Google takes both factors into account when determining search results rankings.
The biggest takeaway from SEO.co’s link building guide is that link building is a multi-faceted strategy, and is rooted in producing high-quality content. In this regard, link building is inextricably combined with content marketing.
2. Consider that link building and content marketing aren’t separate strategies
Part of the reason marketers misunderstand link building is because of the idea that it’s a separate, stand-alone strategy. This idea is based on the impressive results people used to get by simply gaining a large number of links.
Some marketers see content marketing as something bloggers and amateur writers do to get more fans, rather than part of a link building strategy. However, using both strategies together amplifies results regarding website traffic, expert status, page authority, domain authority, and more.
Moz.com explains the content marketing vs. link building dilemma exceptionally well in an episode of Whiteboard Friday. Rand Fishkin from Moz reminds marketers that classic link building is about researching keywords to target and finding ways to get links using those keywords as anchor text. This stand-alone link building method is beneficial, but it’s not powerful enough on its own.
Content marketing, the episode explains, begins with a different approach. “Who is the audience that I want to reach? Who are all the people in that audience group? What channels do they use to discover content, to share things, to influence one another and to be influenced, and to discover new stuff, like the products, services, or a mission that I’m trying to fulfill or that I’m trying to sell them?”
The idea, then, is to pinpoint where your audience is, and what they’re doing. Then, create content that appeals to them in the form of articles, webinars, videos, free downloads, etc. From there, you promote your content on social media to reach your target market directly. People who are interested will visit your website, and you’ll grow your community. In the process, you’ll gain page authority, domain authority, leads, traffic, and sales.
Since content marketing enhances and amplifies the results you’d get from a basic backlink strategy, it’s difficult to consider them separate strategies.
3. Sign up for a Google Scholar account if you own an academic domain name
Google launched a system called Google Scholar to help people keep track of citations to their articles. For websites signed up with the system, Google displays the number of citations a webpage has received alongside that page’s listing in the search results pages. It’s a relatively new system, so it makes sense if you have yet to see search results with Google Scholar citation counts.
Although it’s not perfect, this tool is helpful for monitoring your link building efforts, but you can only qualify if you have an academic domain.
4. Conduct research in your field and produce whitepapers
If you don’t own an academic domain name and want to increase your authority in the search engines, start writing whitepapers and conducting research studies related to your products and services.
People love citing statistics and research studies. Having this type of content available on your website is a great way to earn a large volume of high-quality backlinks.
5. Generate long-form guides
Long-form guides can quickly become the go-to source for information on your topic. When you can generate a page that becomes the go-to source, it’s going to be linked as a reference on numerous websites.
The best long-form guides have a clickable table of contents for easy navigation, and clearly titled sections. From the table of contents alone, a reader should be able to understand exactly what they’re going to learn if they read the entire guide. Clickable links make it easy for readers to jump ahead to the sections they’re most interested in.
Aside from the structure, a long-form guide should be an authoritative source on your topic. The best way to make sure your guide is authoritative is to scour the internet for similar content and take note of what is missing and make sure you cover those missing points.
By covering the points missed by similar websites, you’re creating a more comprehensive, complete guide, which makes your site more likely to be chosen as a linked resource.
6. Create an interactive asset
An interactive asset is generally some kind of web application your visitors can interact with. For example, the income tax estimator from H&R Block is an interactive asset that generates a significant amount of traffic. According to the backlinks calculator on ahrefs.com, H&R Block’s tax estimator page has 8,436 backlinks, 75% of which are “dofollow” links. That’s impressive.
Consider that an interactive asset is sometimes more valuable as a linkable resource than a plain text set of instructions. What kind of interactive tool can you create for your audience? What would make their life easier? Find out, and build it.
Is your content worth linking?
Getting backlinks is only half of the equation in the pursuit of successful SEO. The other half is producing content worth linking. After implementing these strategies, track your progress for at least 90 days. Remember, link building produces results that amplify over time. You won’t see drastic results immediately, but if you’re patient, you’ll see an upward trend that will gain momentum.