Link building is one of the key elements of any Search Engine Optimisation campaign. Without employing an effective off-page optimisation strategy on-page that includes link building, optimisation has an insufficient impact.
Link building has always been a cornerstone of Google search results for the obvious authority provided by links to a site. We’re all familiar with referencing authoritative sources in our school essays for validation, and in the same way, websites that accumulate more links have higher Google rankings.
Back in the early 2000’s links were an even more substantial element of how we experienced browsing. Sites like Yahoo and AOL essentially acted as hubs by providing links to navigate to content more quickly. Google changed up the scene by approximating the relative popularity of web pages with an evaluation of the links leading to them.
Inbound links continue to play an integral rule in Google’s rankings algorithms. However, Google has continued to move steadily away from measuring the sheer number of inbound links in their rankings algorithms and towards estimating the quality of links. Therefore, accumulating these high-quality backlinks has become increasingly important. Google’s algorithms continue to grow better at identifying the quality of links a website has acquired – it is imperative that you know what types of links are valuable before beginning any link building campaign. Otherwise, all your link building efforts may not increase your site’s rankings, or could even result in it losing valuable traffic.
Link building is a difficult beast to master, and you may even hear some agencies saying that it isn’t a useful strategy to utilise. This is an exaggerated claim, as while it is true that some strategies that used to have high returns no longer work, specific approaches can still result in a fantastic improvement to rankings.
In this article, we will cover the strategies we have used to produce fantastic results for our clients towards the end of 2017 and the tactics that we will be devoting more focus towards in the year to come.
Our link building strategies don’t just look at what works today – we look ahead to devise tactics that will continue to benefit you well into the future.
Follow Links Vs. No Follow Links.
When regular hyperlinks point towards your web page, the page gets a small but meaningful SEO boost. You can think of inbound links as points: the more links you have, the higher your score. This means that the more links you accumulate, the more successful your site will be in search rankings. However, only do-follow links contribute towards these points – no follow links still lead to your website, but do not provide an SEO boost.
It’s worth noting that not all follow links are created equal. Google uses a metric called PageRank to assign value to links. SEO professionals tend to use the term Link Juice to describe the flow of value to new sites through hyperlinks. The more established and reputable a website, the more link juice it has. Getting a link from highly reputable established websites like The Guardian, Forbes, The BBC, The New York Times is therefore far more valuable than a mate’s blog.
No follow links appear in the following format:
<a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
Before Google introduced this no follow feature, Internet forums, blog comments and websites were riddled with spammy links. In SEO’s infancy, people would artificially inflate search rankings by placing their own links (via comments) on as many sites as possible. Luckily these links no longer contribute to SEO in any way, meaning there’s less spam comments like these online.
Hidden links are when web developers or black hat SEO adopters try to stuff extra keywords into content by hiding the text using font colours etc. so that it is not visible to the website visitor.
This tactic is not worth it, as you will be found to be in violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines because of your attempt to manipulate the Ranking Algorithms. Google is cracking down on such black hat techniques, meaning the penalties are unforgiving. If caught, you can expect to see a devastating loss in traffic and a crash down the search rankings.
It is possible to recover from a Google Penalty, but it’s difficult and requires diligent identification and removal of all content that doesn’t meet Google’s guidelines. Digital Squad can help your businesses overcome a Google Penalty.
Content is King
“If you build it, they will come.”
If you produce content that is valuable, unique, informative, highly engaging and efficiently answers search queries, you will draw eager website visitors towards you. The more you tick the boxes for visitors, the more likely they are to share your content.
However, this doesn’t mean that just publishing an article or two is enough. Promotion is an integral part of the process in the modern-day digital media landscape. Promote the article on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to gain extra exposure. If your article reaches someone with a large following who chooses to share the content, this can have a tremendous domino effect.
Accumulating links from guest posts is a highly effective strategy to raise domain authority over time. As long as you make sure to keep the following factors in mind:
- The guest post is written for a blog or website that is relevant to the website you’re trying to build rankings for.
- You focus on quality, producing well-written, presented and informative articles
- The focus of the guest post shouldn’t be to promote yourself – it should be to provide information on a topic that relates to your company’s goods or services and is likely to be of interest to users.
- The sites you are trying to guest post on should be engaging to the end user and have high domain authority. Writing high quality unique content for a blog that doesn’t provide value to the user is pointless.
Contributing to forums or blog discussions:
If you make regular insightful contributions to forums or blogs then it’s a perfectly legitimate practice to provide useful links to materials relevant to the discussion. However, you have to make sure that the anchor text relates to the link destination, and it is generally discouraged to always used branded anchor text.
Most blogs links are set to No Follow by default, meaning you won’t gain any valuable link juice from such outlets. Despite this, it can still be a worthwhile effort. If a Webmaster sees you are regularly making valuable contributions, they may set your links to do follow. Even if your link remains as a no follow, you can still gain valuable referral traffic. Even if the links don’t help your rankings the active users visiting your site may still convert to purchasing customers.
Influencer outreach is an extremely effective link building strategy and is an important component of many marketing campaigns. The process involves contacting bloggers or websites with a large following, with a focus on influencers that are relevant within your niche. For instance, if you owned a vegan café you could write a recipe to attract people to your business. You could then start compiling a list of vegan food and health blogs, identifying the key influencers who are part of these blogs. Show appreciation of their work and genuine interest in what they do. Also be clear on why they should care about your particular contact, and the actions you would like them to take.
Don’t be tempted to use mass emailing software, as these bloggers haven’t given you express permission to contact them and you’ll seem like you’re going for a spammy catch-all approach rather than targeting those who truly matter. While valuable in some areas of marketing, mass emailing software doesn’t allow for the level of specificity that influencer outreach demands. It’s also advisable that you use your company email address with a personal email signature to send outreach emails to add both professionalism and personalisation.
Turning mentions into links:
Turning brand mentions into links is one of the most effective link building strategies, particularly for more established companies. You can simply use a tool like the SEMRush brand monitoring tool to scour the internet for sites that mention your brand, product or services, then reach out to the webmaster suggesting they add a link to your website. This is a more effective strategy as the mention is already out there, with a link being all that’s needed to connect the dots.
HARO (help a reporter out)
Subscribing to a HARO service is an extremely valuable tool for link building, particularly when you have certifiable expertise in a field. HARO services are set up in such a way as to be mutually beneficial to reporters/journalists and content producers. If a reporter has a question they want answered they post it to the service and an email is sent out to all those signed up to the service. You can answer questions within your areas of expertise and secure a link to your site for your trouble. As a long-term approach, this can be effective for gaining links from highly reputable publications. If you happen to contribute to an article that gains popularity, these links can be high traffic drivers.
This also provides an opportunity to develop relationships with journalists or publications if the information you provide is of interest to them, leading to them approaching you next time they need to write on a particular topic.
Does whether a link is a new tab or same tab by default matter?
The settings of a hyperlink can have tangible effects on the links value for SEO. However, there is no consensus on the effects of whether a particular link is set to open in a new tab or open in the same tab.
Of course, the default link type doesn’t matter for those with a basic level of tech savvy and are using the keyboard cuts to determine how they want to open a given link, but it’s useful to bear in mind the UX of the least tech savvy members of any given audience.
Advantages of links opening in a new tab:
If a link setting is to automatically open in a new tab then a user won’t loose their place on the page they’re on and therefore they are more likely to continue reading the rest of the content. If the link provides additional information relating to the resource by opening it in a new tab then they can save it as a resource to read after they have finished with the previous article.
Advantages of the same tab:
Makes users browsing slightly cleaner, when you aren’t navigating between multiple tabs. It also enables the web designer to have a slightly greater level of influence over the path a user takes through their content.
Why is this important to backlinks!? When negotiating links from an external company your preference should be for links that automatically open in the same tab. Whereas when linking to external companies for which user engagement isn’t to your benefit you should more frequently create links to new tab, increasing the likelihood a user will continue to engage with your hosted content.
The time frame in which links are gained actually affects their value
When fresh content is posted to your site, this is the most important time to try to accumulate backlinks for this content. Research by SEO Guru Neil Patel suggested that links accumulated within the first 1.8 months of the content’s conception have by far the largest effects on the contents rankings position. While links gained after this period continue to affect the pages ranking the effects are no longer as dramatic.
Identifying broken links
Broken links are extremely detrimental to SEO efforts; it’s especially valuable to fix broken links from high-quality pages. It’s important to note that broken links don’t have to be only links that are broken to your own website. You can use out reach marketing to turn broken links to competitor’s pages to your advantage.
Contacting a Webmaster with a personalized email that identifies a broken link on their site and offers them high quality updated content, as an alternative fix is a fantastic way to generate extremely valuable backlinks.
Providing your content is well done, this is a highly effective way to get backlinks from quality websites. This is because you’re not only begging for a link but you’re actively adding value to their website. Of course people will be far more likely to help you out once you’ve already helped them.
Directory links are some of the most effortless backlinks to accumulate you merely register your website, enter details about your product and services and viola! However, many directories are judged as spam links by Google’s algorithms. The best Directories that you should exclusively focus on are directories that have relevance to your particular industry. Or Directories that provide sufficient additional information to provide value to the user.
Reciprocal linking is where you contact a high domain site owner directly to ask them for a link from their site in exchange for a link to your site.
There are right and a wrong way to engage in reciprocal linking. Excessive linking between two sites is ineffective and likely to incur a punishment. It’s essential that the links are natural and link to relevant content.
Once your site develops a certain amount of domain authority, other agencies or companies with similar scope will often reach out to you. You should always evaluate the value of their website before agreeing to exchange links.
Any link to your site on theirs or any link you put on your site on their website should always be to provide a link to content that is valuable to the user. It should also have anchor text that is descriptive of where the link is going. This way the user won’t be surprised by the content they’re landing on. The best strategy provides useful information for the users of both websites.
Make sure your business stays ahead of the game this year by focusing on SEO. If you need help with your SEO strategy get in touch with a digital marketing agency Hong Kong. The team at Digital Squad can help you with Remarketing, Facebook Marketing Hong Kong, AdWords Marketing Hong Kong and SEO Hong Kong.
We aren’t your typical digital marketing agency. We make sure our clients’ digital strategy is fully looked after. Leveraging the power of all other digital avenues is key. With proven results, talk to us how we can help you with YouTube advertising, Instagram marketing or any other social media marketing Hong Kong. Additionally, we’re here to show you scalable growth with programmatic advertising Hong Kong, Bing ads Hong Kong and marketing automation.
Moz, “Guide to using unlinked brand mentions for link acquisition”, https://moz.com/ugc/guide-to-using-unlinked-brand-mentions-for-link-acquisition-20981
Online Marketing, “Guide to Link Building”, https://online.marketing/guide/linkbuilding/
Wordstream, “follow vs no follow links”,
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