Link building is a labor of love, but it can pay off big for your website. Any solid SEO strategy will have some kind of link acquisition plan in place because links are vital in helping search engines find your site and crawl your content. However, there are good ways and bad ways to build links. The way you choose to get links to your site can determine how much value the search engines apply to those links and whether or not you’ll get penalized for black hat tactics.
With some fairly straightforward tactics and a little legwork, you can begin to earn high-value links for your website. Before we jump into those, though, let’s do a quick review of the two main types of links.
The Good: Editorial Links
These are the toughest links to get, but they offer the most bang for your SEO buck. Search engines assign editorial, or “natural,” links the highest amount of value because they are viewed as votes of confidence in your business and/or your website. The best thing about these links is that you’ll never be penalized for them, and they’ll never lose their value.
The Bad: Self-created and Paid Links
When it comes to search engine optimization, the easier something is, the less likely it is to be of value and the more likely it is to be risky. Links are no exception (Penguin, anyone?). For starters, never, EVER buy links. This is against Google’s guidelines, and it’s a surefire way to get yourself set up for a penalty, algorithmic or manual. Google regularly looks for this, and they will catch you. Secondly, don’t go around throwing links to your site in blog comments, embeddable widgets, or forums. When you create links to your own site, they carry very little value and may even result in a penalty.
Three Safe Ways to Build Links
Okay, so now we know what we’re after: editorial links. And we know they’re going to take time and effort to get. Try these three tactics to earn links to earn links and build your site’s authority:
Create Some Content
Investing in content is a winning gameplan for acquiring links. Remember, too, that content isn’t just blog posts. Content can also be videos and images. When you create content that encourages sharing, you increase the odds that you’ll earn an editorial link. Content can encourage sharing by being useful, different/unusual, interactive, or funny. It’s important to note, though, that as content marketing is becoming an increasingly popular tactic, it’s getting more difficult to stand out from the pack. Rand Fishkin at Moz promotes the concept of 10x content. This is content that stands head and shoulders above the rest because it’s high quality, solves a problem, elicits emotion and has a killer user experience. Yes, this is tough to achieve, but it’s what you need to aim for if you want links.
Focus on Your Brand and Community
Put some time into marketing your business and creating a community. Get active on social media, start an email newsletter, and reach out to your customers. When you do, you’ll have an active pool of folks who are listening to what you have to say and who are ready to tell others about you. Hopefully, they’ll do this through a link to your website.
Industry and community partnerships can be valuable sources of editorial links. Building links through these relationships can be as simple as getting a link on a list of partner businesses or as involved as being interviewed by a local publication. Other effective ways to leverage partnerships include sponsoring local events, getting a regular blog column on a partner site, and gaining news coverage.
Don’t Sit Still!
If you get one thing from this post, it should be this: getting the right kind of links takes a lot of work, but it’s work that will be worth it. So, don’t sit around and expect the link building fairy to drop a couple of high-quality links your way. It’s not going to happen. Remember, if you do link building the right way, you can’t lose!