INside Performance Marketing
Link Building - Where Do I Start?

Link Building - Where Do I Start?

When he first came in to the limelight, lots of people started to write about him, and link to his website. Then these links would be shared through social bookmarking sites, along with Twitter and Facebook around the web, which created further links to the sites that were linking to them.

When a news story breaks about a new song Justin has released is likely to result in spikes in lots of links appearing, referencing either videos or previews of the new song. The activity of this type of sharing and linking was also from lots of different sources over time. Think about linking this way: if you create a piece of content such as a blog post, and no one shares it then its unlikely that many people are interested in what you have to say. Perhaps your content isn’t of interest to your users, in which case leveraging existing interest of other highly searched for people or subjects may be a good way of creating sticky content that your users would find valuable and likely share to their friends.

Introduction to link building

How does a link become a link worthy? Despite popular belief of the golden type of high page rank link will solve all your linking problems, I don’t believe that having one type of link will help you long-term ranking in the search engines. As confirmed by SEOmoz.org in their search engine ranking factors, search engines like a wide variety of link types as it contributes to a natural link building profile. There are several checks you need to go through before deciding what types of links are going to be effective for boosting your site to the top of Google!

Link Profile Anchor Text Variation

When building links from different sources, it is often a good idea to consider what a natural profile would look like. For example, if someone liked your clothing guide on your website they might link to it with your brand name or URL in the anchor text of their link. They might link to your site with “mens clothing guide” which is even better, however if you have a large number of links with the exact search term “mens clothing guide” this is going to appear unnatural to the search engines.

When gaining anchor text links, a natural profile contains branded links. links with your URL contained in them, along with keyword rich links. It is a good idea to have a mix between all of these and not to spam the search engines with too many exact matches of your keywords you're trying to rank for.

Anchor Text Keyword Variation

If you do want to rank for a particular search term such as “designer menswear” then add what are called modifiers, such as “designer menswear uk”, “cheap designer menswear”, and “designer menswear sale”. Building links with these related keywords helps build up authority so you can mix the anchor text that you use in the links you build each month.

To measure which of the keywords you include in your anchor text that have search volume, it’s a good idea to type them in to Google to see what the suggested searches are. Once you’ve done this check the Google Adwords keyword tool on exact match setting to ensure the search volume is there. Another underrated part of anchor text diversity is having your brand name in a portion of your back links. The reason for having these and your URL is to appear more natural.

Don’t mix up relevancy with authority

Although getting a link on the relevant page for a men’s fashion website such as the style section of The Times would be great in an ideal world, why not think more niche and try and find a potential list of blogs that would be relevant to your industry. It’s also important to realise that although theme relevant websites are great, as long as the page’s content is relevant to what it is linking to it can still be a valuable. Authority links tend to be websites that have history through lots of other websites linking to them over time.

The pattern of how links are built for authority sites is very hard to predict, with spikes in linking patterns changing each month in line with content generation. For example, if you were to release a white paper and your gained a link from a university this would be useful and other students may share it on their .edu blog links that hold authority and are valuable links to have.

Link Velocity

Sounds complicated right? Its really pretty simple, Link Velocity is the speed in which your site gains backlinks. If you compare the rate in which you build links over time to your google analytics you may notice a spike in link building correlates to a spike in traffic. A good tool to measure this is www.majesticseo.com (insert link) One problem might gaining lots of links very quickly which could appear unnatural and then very few links in the coming weeks and months.

If a news story broke and you wrote a blog post that happened to attracted lots of link attention then this could more than likely result in a higher ranking for a short period of time. It would make sense for your ranking to drop as the search engines are trying to provide the most relevant content, and if its old news the likely hood is few people are going to carry on consistently linking to you. Build consistently and not all at once to gain increases in rankings.

Link building tips

Now you have an idea of how to measure link authority and what diversity is its time to talk practical tips of what types of links you can acquire in the next week!

Link baiting

In an ideal world all our content would be so compelling that we would attract hundreds of links from a diversity of sources. However, many keywords worth ranking for are competitive, and so we need an on-site SEO link building strategy as well as an off-site strategy. Content is evolving on the web towards more visual media based link bait such as info graphics.

Not feeling that creative? Every industry has statistics and a quick search could allow you to create some diagrams of visually simplified statistics. Depending on your industry a news update to your blog will help in a few ways, it will increase the size of your site that will mean the search engines visit your site more regularly. Plus old blog posts will be read later and linked to and that means you’ll get more entry points to your site via referral traffic too!

Updating Social profiles

Creating a Facebook page and building up your following through regular updates of articles, relevant links (other peoples as well as yours) will help build up a following. This isn’t an overnight strategy but search engines look at links from profiles with lots of “likes” or Twitter users with lots of followers. The emphasis is on adding value through great content on your website or blog and not just updates of voucher offers (although this if this is relevant to your site then this is good to update users of too).

Try to think if you compared a similar competing website and took away your affiliate adverts how would your social profile give value to your users. If you can’t think of why, then you need to revisit your content strategy for your social media presence.

Social sharing

There’s been much talk about the influence of social media websites on search engine rankings. An independent study from SEOmoz from SEO’s across the industry has predicted that the top future ranking factors are "social signals at a page level" and "social signals at a domain level". What this means for your site is people are viewing your content, and it is getting shared by other users through tweets, and also if people are “liking” your content on facebook then this is going to influence your rankings positively.

The most important part of generating back links through social media is to make your content easily accessible through social sharing. Many affiliates will be using wordpress and there are various plug in’s available to share your content virally. Ensure that your plug-ins are relevant to what your users are doing instead of having every social media sharing icon available.

The web is becoming more social with more content being shared; you need to start shifting towards how users share content. As social bookmark websites not only share content with other users, they also encourage links back to your site from other sources. Find existing links through Open Site Explorer and social bookmark existing back links of those who have linked to your site as this can help boost the authority of those links.

Guest blog posts

Many websites will be looking for new content and be part of a community. Sign up to forums where people will be looking for content on their website. Again, this is a great way to get in-content links. To find relevant websites for guest blog posts search Google for your keywords and select the “more” tab and then select blogs. This will bring up a whole list of websites that blog about your topic and provide you with a hit list of websites to content for guest blogging. Further to this search if you find you still don’t have enough websites to contact, you can use google’s suggested search and see what comes up when you type in “guest blog” + keyword or “guest blogger”. When I did it there was add a few modifiers I found such as:

  • "opportunities"
  • "sites"
  • "wanted"
  • "needed"

Relevant blog commenting

It can be good to build comments if you leave useful and relevant points and engage in a discussion and identify guest blog post opportunities. The blog post writer wants opinions on their blog and there may be a whole community you’re missing out on who might like to look at your website on a regular basis.

There are debates about whether do-follow or many blogs that don’t pass link value through no-follow attribute are still useful for back linking. In our experience blog commenting from a no-follow blog still passes relevance and has an effect on search engine rankings.

Check your Analytics

Whose already linking to you or visiting your website. If you look in to your Google analytics account, it may be that someone regularly visits your site for new content. You can learn more from your existing website users by contacting them and asking what other content they’d like to read about, further to this ask if they’d like to link to you. You can also check your Google Webmaster Tools and see what existing links are broken and contact the site owners to request they fix them if they’re linking from an old URL that no longer exists.

Measurement

Measurement is no easy task, although trust can be gained over time can be done through you can use the following checklist to:

  1. Who is linking to you?
  2. Which pages are they linking to?
  3. Why are they linking to some pages more than others?
  4. What pages can you change?
  5. Are they a trusted source with a high page rank?
  6. Have you had your domain authority increased as a result of your link building efforts?

If you’re measuring rankings of multiple websites then it makes sense to have this process automated instead of manual checks. Search engine rankings fluctuate and measuring daily or weekly may not produce the most conclusive results. From our experience from managing client websites in different industries, once a website hits a certain position it may fluctuate for a few days. A tool such as rank tracker can help you monitor your SERP results.

Developing back links doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need good initial planning, an idea of why people would want to link to you and a strong focus on content instead of simply a list of links to acquire. Make sure you’re going after the right type of links and that you realise that all you’re trying to do is acquire links from a variety of sources both link types and link sources. Please leave a comment below and let us know what you are finding works for you when link building, we’d love to hear from you.

by Mark Cann, Online Marketing Director for Climb Digital. If you want to find out more about ecommerce seo, head over to our website www.climbdigital.co.uk.

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Mark Cann

Mark Cann

Founder of www.climbdigital.co.uk and www.climbdigitalseo.com an international search marketing c

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