When Google first launched in the late ‘90s, it was immediately successful thanks to its use of backlinks in identifying webpages with valuable information. At the time, the formula was relatively rudimentary: More links equals higher ranking. It didn’t take long for websites to start abusing Google’s algorithm, shoving their links anywhere and everywhere to improve their ranking, even if their content isn’t relevant or useful to web users.
Fortunately, Google has since gotten wise to such reprehensible link building and now viciously punishes any website that participates in any black-hat SEO practices. Unfortunately, that means businesses need to be much, much more careful with how they build links, or else they risk penalties that could sink webpage rankings, or worse, take a website off Google’s results pages entirely.
Link building these days isn’t easy, but it is important. Here are a few modern approaches to building high-quality links that last:
Instead of Begging for Link Placements…
You can beg high-quality sites for links; you can even pay them to place your links. However, when you send an email requesting or offering payment for a link, you are unlikely to get a response from websites that have much authority. The best websites have gained an audience and a high search ranking by prioritizing quality content, and if they gave a link to anyone who asked, their value would rapidly plummet. As a result, begging for backlinks is only a good way to get placements on lower quality sites, and those don’t contribute much to your SEO.
A much, much better strategy is the give-and-take. To start, you should look for relevant content on an authoritative site that would suit your link. Instead of begging the website for a link, you should coordinate with individual authors. Reach out to them — through their personal website, blog or social media — and offer to provide a link to their resources on your company blog if they place a certain link to your site in their published content. This way, you can develop relationships with content creators, who might help you with other marketing efforts going forward.
Instead of Hunting for Broken Links…
Broken link hunting is one of the oldest tricks for getting link placements, but it is also one of the hardest and most time-consuming. Hunting for broken links requires you to scour authoritative websites for links that lead nowhere. The problem is that these days, broken links are few and far between. Google punishes websites for broken links with lower search rankings, so authoritative websites are diligent and finding and removing broken links fast.
Because broken link hunting requires massive effort for little payoff, you should replace that tactic with the topic takeover. This requires you to generate a stellar piece of content for a niche topic related to your business and to spread awareness of that content amongst related blogs and websites. You should reach out to those sites and pitch your content as the next step for readers interested in learning more. If you word your email appropriately, authors and website owners will gladly add a link to your resource within their content.
Instead of Building Homepage Links…
Here’s an SEO problem that too many businesses face: You have plenty of backlinks, but they all lead to your website homepage. This often happens when your products are gaining notoriety and organic mentions in content around the web: Authors describing your products and services will toss in a link to your homepage to help readers learn more should they want to.
Unfortunately, your homepage isn’t always the best landing page for those sorts of referrals. You should make it even easier for readers to find the services mentioned in the content by requesting websites to alter the link to a specific landing page, which showcases the exact business feature described. This will lower your bounce rate from frustrated users who don’t want to navigate through your site, and it could increase conversions from users who appreciate the convenience of the link.
Instead of Getting Link-related Headaches…
In truth, you shouldn’t be stressing about building backlinks to your website. You should outsource link building services to a trustworthy SEO agency, which automatically knows the best tactics for gaining high-quality links. Even as SEO strategies shift, you can be assured that your business is getting the best links possible and benefiting from properly practiced SEO.
Gaining backlinks is part art, part science — part luck, part skill. By constantly improving your link building strategies, you can build a legion of backlinks that bring true benefits to your business.