Links back to your site from other sites give Google a potentially important signal – “Hey, I’m a human being and I think this is good stuff.” – that’s something Google can’t do with a spider and even better if the site in question is already known to Google as a trusted source.
Links have always been important, but in the past it was just about getting lots of them. The “more is more” approach led to gaming and buying and other unnatural types of acts.
There was a time when SEO folks and site owners seemed more concerned about getting links than producing anything worth actually linking to and visiting.
Recent changes in the Google algorithm addressed this aspect of their ranking system in dramatic fashion.
Links still matter, but the emphasis has been placed squarely on the quality and authority of links and not on numbers of links. You could see this coming with every new tweak and pronouncement from Google folks like Matt Cutts.
Link building in the age of authority has more in common with effective networking than some sort of magic SEO art.
Below are eight tactics I’ve employed to effectively build and continue to build high quality, relevant links.
One word of caution – none of these tactics supplant the need to be link worthy and none involve tricks of any kind. You draw high quality, relevant links the same way you develop networking relationships – by focusing on the needs of your link partners and your readers.
1) Snack size influence
One of the best ways to get some very high authority links (and this includes RT’s +1s and Likes from high authority folks as deemed by Google) is to publish quotes, advice and answers from influencers in your industry.
The above statement is pretty obvious of course, but the key to getting said content from influencers is to make it as easy as possible for them to provide it. Ask one question, for example, of a dozen people, publish the answers in a thought-provoking and link to each participant’s site.
Many times this approach can produce a very high quality, or at least interesting, piece of content that others, including your influential guests, may think worthy of linking to and socializing.
— Brian Solis (@briansolis) May 21, 2013
Here’s an example of this approach that produced multiple high quality links – How I Write and How I Decide What To Write
2) Guest content
I know you’ve heard lots of people talking about guest blogging and with reason – one of the highest quality links you can get is a link back to some page on your site from the body of a blog post on an influential blog. So, get over to Topsy and do a search on your key terms + guest and find yourself some great opportunities to draw links from your guest content
But, don’t forget two other potent variations on this theme – a) Ask others to write a post on your site. You can get some tremendous content and likely as not they will link to that content once it’s published. Here’s a guest post written by my friend Chris Brogan. He linked to this post from his various profiles.
— Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) April 11, 2013
b) Interview guests for a podcast – Authors love to do this around new book launches and many influential folks in your industry may want to do the same. Not always, but more often than not, your guest will link to this content. Last week my friend Lee Odden linked to the podcast interview he recently gave for the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.
3) Promote an event
Events are another great way to draw links. If you host an in person workshop or even online seminar you can likely attract links by listing your event on local event pages, MeetUp and Eventful.
In some cases you can get some pretty terrific links from the event space – I hosted a free talk at the public library in my community and got some terrific high domain authority links from local media calendars and the library .org link
4) Repackage across mediums
I write lots of blog posts and speak frequently for organizations. Just about every word I write or speak is fair game to be repackaged into eBooks, turned into videos and pitched to media outlets in one form or another.
The net effect is that one piece of content might be a source of link generation in many ways. For example, here’s my library talk from above posted to YouTube.
Organizations love to share free eBooks. Here’s a very high influence link from PRWeb.com to one of my free eBooks.
5) Your partners
Yet another reason to work hard at establishing a formal strategic partner network. Last week I wrote about ways to use content for referrals and many of these ways involved linking opportunities.
In a way this is the updated version of the linking networks that were in vogue before Google slapped them down. The big difference is these should be, by virtue of how you build them, far more natural.
Over the years I’ve acquired links from HP, Dell, Microsoft and Sage Software through partnering efforts.
6) Build something useful
Want to know the easiest, fastest, more productive way to draw tons of links? Create a highly useful free tool and tell people about it. People love to find and share stuff that’s useful and, of course, even better if it’s free.
One of the most linked to pages on my site is for a free press release generator called Instant Press Release that I created years ago. The tool also generates hundreds of newsletter sign up each month even though I never do anything to promote it and you can’t even find it without searching for it.
And I wonder how many millions of people have shared tools like Hubspot’s Marketing Grader?
I know this one might be easier said than done, but this is so powerful it is worth investing in having something built.
7) Real world networks
What organizations do you belong to? What alumni directories publish links? What business groups? What non-profit committees?
These may not seem like great places to get high traffic links, but they can often be terribly industry relevant and carry high authority signals for Google. They still like .org and .edu domains.
Most of the options above require real work, I realize that, but Google has said loud and clear that the days of buying links in farms are over. Keep creating great content, sharing great content, working on building your own authority and networking and links, the kind that won’t ever go out of fashion, will come.