Despite what you may have heard, link building is not some technical SEO-type of under-the-hood tactic. It is the new networking, and no matter what Google does to try to devalue backlinks, they remain an important factor in terms of your site showing up when people search for the things that you want them to find you for online.
The Game Has Changed
Certainly, the game has changed. There are a lot of SEO folks that charge a lot of money and do a lot of “evil things” in the eyes of Google to generate links because they’re so important.
Here’s what you need to remember: People link to things worth sharing. It really is that simple. It’s not some black hat SEO practice or way to trick people into linking to you. You’ve got to work at this.
You’ve got to create something that people want to link to. That’s why I say it’s the new networking because people want to share great content. They want to share it with their audiences, networks, and visitors.
If you give them something to share and target the right people for links, you’re going to acquire the links that you’re going to need to rank, or at least outrank, your competition.
Keep an eye on your competition
The first tactic that I want to talk about in terms of link building is to keep your competitors close. To find the best resources for where you might find great links or people that might want to link back to your content, search and review your competitors, and find out who’s out-ranking you.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be the person in your town that you go head-to-head with as a competitor. This is anybody who is out-ranking you for the search terms that you want to rank for whether that’s locally or nationally.
Find those people. Do some searches on some of the things that are important terms to you and you’re going to find a handful of competitors or other high authority sites that rank already and that have links.
How do you find those links? I use tools like SpyFu and Ahrefs. What these tools do is allow you to go to any website or any URL and see who is linked to this site, who is sending traffic to this site, and who is linking to their content.
I like to look at the last 30 days because you want to look at recent activity. It might not be that relevant if somebody linked four or five years ago. Look at the recent activity and start finding the content they link to and then start thinking about how you could make a pitch to this website or influencer in a way that would make them want to link to you.
For example, if you see that a particular site links to a lot of guest posts or writes guest posts, think about pitching them on a similar idea. Take an article from a competitor that has written something and really expand on it and make it better. Introduce them to somebody in your network that might be a good contact.
There are tremendous relationship-building tactics that you can do once you start identifying some of these sites that link to competitors. In many cases, they’ll be very motivated to link to you if you’re producing good, relevant content.
Get added to roundups
I don’t see a lot of people doing this, but this is one that I think can be quite easy and quite effective as a way to both get links and also get people sending traffic to your content. About once a week, I get a request from a content marketer who is working on something called a roundup-style blog post.
What they do is they’ll go out and they’ll try to round up a bunch of experts, tools or resources and create a post, because as it turns out, people love roundup posts. They’re like list posts but with more detail and a little more depth. The search engines like them better as well.
They can also draw a lot of shares and links which are two of the main reasons that I think people produce these roundup posts. Let’s say a post features 20 or 30 experts. The hope is that each of these experts is going to spread the word.
It’s a great link building strategy to find sites that routinely assemble these roundup posts, particularly if it’s in your niche or industry. Network to have them quote you, link to a post that you have or include you in their next roundup article.
To find these roundup posts, just turn to Google. If you were trying to find people that do roundup posts, say for link-building, you would just type in Title, Column, Roundup+link building, and you would find a bunch of roundup-type of posts or a list of sites that run roundup posts.
Once you find a suitable list, you’ll want to spend time networking. Don’t just simply reach out and say: “Hey, include me in your next post.” Follow them for a couple of weeks. Read up on them, comment on them and share them.
Do all the things that equate to networking as it’s an effective way for you to start getting noticed and start building strategies. I’m much more likely to link back to a person, pay attention to what it is they’re doing, or in some cases, think about including them in something that I’m doing or sharing a link to some of the content that they’ve written if they’ve shown prior engagement.
Network with local businesses
This is one of my favorites because it’s just solid business content relationship-building and referral building, and it covers so many areas. It’s particularly effective for local businesses and new business owners that are trying to find people in their community.
One of the things you’ll want to do as a business development and business-building strategy is to start networking with local businesses, particularly those that could be potential strategic partners.
Think about also building an online platform with them. If there’s somebody you work with, buy from, or network with that’s local, think about ways that you could link to and from each other.
Let’s say you’ve produced a great ebook. Think about all the strategic partners that you might be able to share that with and let them co-brand it and send it out to their entire network. Think about writing testimonials for each other.
Think about that business that you love and do business with, and write an unsolicited testimonial which becomes great content. They’ll want to put that on their website and in many cases, they’ll give you a link back. If you expand that whole tactic, there’s no reason you couldn’t be doing eight, ten, or twelve of those a month to start drawing links back to your site.
Don’t forget the organizations you belong to either, including:
- The Chamber of Commerce
- Your local chapter of your business organization.
- BNI groups
- Charitable foundations
- Alumni chapters
All of these are great ways for you to get links back to your site. One of the benefits of being able to support charities in your community is that in many cases they will create sponsor pages. Those will automatically generate high-quality links back to your site.
Don’t Forget Local Print and Offline Options
Many print publications have online press release portals for local news. Find these sites and learn how to submit press releases to them. Do this every month and you’ll soon start to see some nice links coming from highly relevant, local sites.
There’s no question that link-building has become a hand-to-hand combat of sorts. But again, it is very much like effective networking, if you think a little bit outside the box with some of these tactics. People aren’t just going to shower you with links because you buy them or because you sign up and list your article in a directory. Those days are over.
Today, Google wants to see what feel and look to them like handcrafted, organic links between businesses that support each other through content producers that are writing and producing great content.
Use these three strategies to really ‘up’ your backlink quotient.