FAQs: How Link Building Works in 2018

This week’s FAQ contains all the juicy questions about link building, as well as what I’ve been listening to recently.

What’s in the Boombox

Van Halen by Van Halen

I’ve never been a huge fan of Eddie Van Halen as a guitarist.

I know, I know.

It’s taboo to say that in the metal community. Especially if you’re a guitar player! I’ve just never “understood” the hype that came along with Eddie. I’ve been a Van Halen fan, but never thought of him as “the greatest ever.” This year, I decided I would learn all of the songs on the “Van Halen 1” album on guitar.

Regardless of my personal feelings, it’s difficult to argue that this album didn’t change how rock guitar was played. The tone, the guitar parts, the mix of traditional with new, and the “space style” influenced the guitar and guitarists, still having an impact today.

Eruption, You Really Got Me, and the “hits” like Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love steal a lot of the spotlight. I’m enjoying rediscovering some of the lesser-known tracks. From “I’m the One” to “Little Dreamer,” I’d forgotten about how fun some of these songs are to jam out to. It’s been cool to slow down, really listen to his style, and learn these songs.

It’s worth checking out if you’ve NEVER heard it before (especially if you’re into the guitar) and a fun album to revisit.

FAQ: How Do We Do Link Building in 2018?

I’ve received a lot of questions in the last week along the lines of:

“How do we get more quality links?”

“How do we get people to link back to us?”

“How do we rank #1 in Google?”

Top-ranking content on any given search engine result will have more quality links than the content ranking below it. Websites with #1 rankings always have more quality links.

The more quality website links you have going back to your website (people who link to you from their website) the better you’ll do in search engine results.

What is a “quality link?”

A link from the largest trade publication in your industry is a quality link. The local chamber of commerce putting the URL of your website on their page is a quality link.

10,000 links on a forum is not a quality source. The guy who emailed you and said he would put a link to your website if you put one on his website is not a quality source.

Social media isn’t really a quality source. While social media does have some weight in SEO, linking to content via social media won’t give you the #1 ranking you desire.

For the sake of simplicity:

A “quality” link is a link back to your website or content that was earned by having great content.

Good links live on websites with high-quality information. Review websites, popular bloggers, partners, trade publications. A website that people go to for content like yours.

A “bad” link is an unnatural link that you have created or commissioned someone else to create that links to your website in the hopes of influencing search engines.

Bad links usually live on “low quality” websites like forums, spam websites, websites with poor user experience, and new or unknown websites.

How Can I Influence People with High-Quality Websites to Link to Me?

Here are a set of ways that we use Link Building techniques for our clients over at Jay Nine, Incorporated:

Guest Blogging/Being Featured

Writing articles for your own website is fantastic.

Writing articles on guest sites with a new audience that hasn’t seen your content before is even better.

Guest posting on websites with a lot of traffic and readers (think Forbes, Huffington Post, or whatever the largest trade publication is in your industry) should be the ultimate goal of most businesses.

A lot of companies burn themselves out trying to only receive press from organizations they’ve heard of, like Forbes. This is a mistake! You have to start out with links from smaller websites and local companies, before moving up. The top 50 websites or blogs in your industry is a stepping stone. Once you have more content on different places in the web, it’s easier to be featured on larger websites.

Larger websites look for stories on smaller websites too. When you look at smaller trade organizations, magazines, and websites, you’ll have an easier time getting featured.

I know, your idea is earth shattering and everyone needs to hear it. The problem is, companies like Forbers ands Huffington Post are hearing thousands of other people just like you telling them the same things.

Start with simple guest posts. A great way to find Guest Posts or similar prospects is by putting large trade publications into Google, like:

((target site)) + guest post

((target site)) + guest blog

((target site)) + blogging guidelines

A lot of local or smaller companies likely won’t have that. So, be sure to gather how to do so on each specific contract.

Broken Link Checks

This one is pretty easy.

Use a tool like Check My Links and find industry blogs or local websites that have broken links. A broken link is a link that was, at one time, linking to an article or supporting content, but now doesn’t work anymore.

Broken links are embarrassing, and most websites suffer from them. When you come across a broken link, send an email to that blogger to let them know the post has a broken link.

Let the author know the link is broken, and that you just happen to have an article that would fit as a solid replacement for the broken link. Send them a link to the article or piece of content.

Supply them with a relevant article in order. Your article on the greatest technological advancements of all time isn’t going to be well received if the broken link was referencing the need for people to unplug and “get back to nature.”

This is a semi-cheesy but powerful way to get easy links back to your website, and to build new relationships.

Software 

From SEO PowerSuite to Link Prospector from Citation Labs, there are several tools that are great for finding “prospects” in link building. These depend on the niche, and we use a variety of them to find new sources.

The best software is enough for a solo article, but paying for and using quality software (or hiring a firm that does this) is a great way to get a lot of prospects put together.

Good software will also tell you/help you find who is linking to your competitors. I’ve always felt this is kind of a “low hanging fruit” section, as you want to have MORE links than your competitors.

However, you can find good directories and other websites you may not have found otherwise by seeing what your competitors are doing.

HARO

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) does one thing: puts journalist together with people looking to have their expertise or content featured. I’ve been featured on articles like “29 Web Design Professionals Share their Top Tips” and others.

This is a great resource to be featured and build relationships with reporters and other content writers. This is not a “set up and forget it” type platform. Each day you receive an email with new “pitches” in your industry. You sift through those and respond to the journalist.

I usually have to write a dozen or so responses before being picked up by one.

An Offline Contract or Agreement

Quality links come from other agreements, too. This way to build links is often lost in an online-focused mentality.

Example:

An ecommerce client of ours sends products to bloggers to review for free. When a blogger or up-and-coming company reaches out to them, they are sure to include something along the lines of “you will include a link to our website on the footer of this article.”

Other clients are featured in local newspaper articles, and simply ask that a link to their website or landing page is included in the bottom of the article. This helps drive traffic from the article, and builds more quality links to your website.

The limits to this are endless. We include a clause in some of our contracts that a link to our website is featured in the client’s “About” page. Photographers I know ask that their link is featured when someone uses one of her pictures.

This step is much simpler in explanation, but more complex in nature. You are required to remember/weigh the importance of getting a “link back” to your website. You also need to make sure to ask for it.

Final Thoughts

This is important:

Google’s goal is not to make your website popular. Google’s goal is to rank the most popular websites.

Said another way, Google doesn’t care where your website ranks. They care if your website provides a good experience for their readers and users.

As such, Google doesn’t want to see you trying to influence that ranking by doing things to try and trick their algorithm that you belong on the #1 spot. Google clips websites, SEO tricks, and anything they can to prevent people from gaming the system.

It is far better to earn one quality link per month than to try and “game” the system by adding 10,000 links back to your website a month.

There is a difference between having a news website link back to your website at the bottom of an article they already wrote about you. Doing that is not gaming the system, it’s helping Google realize your company is featured in the news.

 

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