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Six months ago I wrote a post featuring eight Creative Link Building Techniques for a Sustainable Link Building Strategy, with the promise to write a follow-up later in 2013.
With new announcements from Google in the last six months intensifying the spotlight on unnatural links, now seemed like a good time to tackle Part 2.
In this post I’m going to suggest a few more tips and techniques you should consider to build quality inbound links to your site, designed to stand the tests of both time and Google crack-downs.
The key to a strong link profile is that it should look natural and progressive. If your site gets 10 new links one month and 1,000 the next, alarm bells may start to ring at Google and you may be under scrutiny for bad practice or link schemes.
Although the arrival of new natural links to your site is outside your control, any link building you partake in should be structured and regular to avoid unnatural spikes in new links.
Take the time to set out a 6-12 month plan for your link building activities. Know what you intend to do each month, week or day (depending on your time availability) and make sure you’re keeping things varied and balanced over time. Steadily build up your link profile over time to ensure the increase in links and references to your brand across the web remain natural.
While it’s good to have a plan to cover a long period of time, don’t plan more than 12 months ahead when it comes to link building. If the goalposts get moved again, you might find some of your ideas are no longer viable so stick to a 6 or 12 month strategy to make sure you don’t waste too much time on things that might not work months down the line. That said, you should only be looking to use sound link building techniques and if you think something could breach best practice guidelines, you should not be adding it into your strategy.
It’s just as easy to carry out some top-level analysis on your competitors’ link profiles as it is on your own, and in doing so you can identify some fantastic new opportunities.
By running your competitors’ sites through a backlink analysis tool such as Majestic SEO’s Site Explorer, you can see the pages across the web linking to them. With a little time invested to carry out a manual review on their link profiles, you can uncover some fantastic link opportunities directly relevant to your industry.
Use this research to see what sort of tactics your competitors are up to and get a step ahead. So a competitor has a link from that big industry news site you read every day? Check out the link on the page: could you provide content or news that the site would be prepared to post? Could you offer something better?
By creating a useful resource for your industry or niche such as a glossary of terms, you can gain valuable natural backlinks by other sites linking to your page and referencing your brand. These sorts of resources are also fantastic for those good old social signals and can be magnets for social shares and engagement.
Content that provides real value to users can also rank really well in organic search, if it’s well-written and comprehensive. Google loves content that meets the needs of the users and if your glossary answers specific questions about an industry term you could find that a growing stream of organic traffic may arrive at your site.
Similar to the aforementioned glossary of terms, there are other types of “evergreen content” that are worth the time investment to create.
One of the best types of evergreen content is a good “How-To” guide relevant to your industry. For example, if you sell car radios, why not write a good guide on “How To Install Car Radios” and one on “How To Choose The Right Sound System For Your Car” and maybe “How To Get DAB Radio In Your Car”. You get the picture. People love guides like these and sites will often link off to a good guide if it’s easier than writing one themselves.
There has never been a better time to think about this sort of content, with the recent release of Google’s “In-Depth Articles” update. Using Schema Article markup with a strong how-to guide could get your content ranking organically for some really relevant search queries; which is all the better for attracting links from authority sites in your niche.
Consider creating a “Top 10” list of businesses, people or products relevant to your industry but not directly competing with your own. For example, if you sell digital cameras, you could create a post on “Top 10 Camera Cases” or “Top 5 Gadget Insurance Providers”.
The clever thing about this tactic is that the people or sites you reference will often be more than happy to shout about it and are likely to link to your site from their own. Let them know you have included them in your chart with a polite email and a quick tweet and watch them share and promote your page for you!
Another little tip here; reciprocal links are not a great thing (i.e. you link to them and they link to you). To avoid this, when you’re talking about people or brands don’t link to their website in your post but link to one of their social media profiles instead. If you do link to their sites or their product pages because they are more useful to your readers, consider adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the outbound link so Google knows that your links are for the benefit of the user only.
If you’ve built up a good following on a social site, such as Twitter, through posting engaging tweets and sharing great content, leverage the opportunity for quality links by holding a Twitter Chat.
The best thing about these chats is that they provide you with great content for a summarising blog post, like this one following our “Future of SEO” koozchat. This post can include a nice interactive stream of the tweets using a free tool such as Storify to summarise the conversation and highlight some of the best ideas to come out of the chat. This gives readers some nice takeaways and reasons to share the post.
You can also give a hat tip to anyone who took part, increasing the chances of those people checking out and sharing the post. The more people that see your content, the more chance there is of other websites referencing and linking to it, creating natural backlinks and even a new stream of referral traffic.
This will only work if you have a strong Twitter profile and followers who engage with you on the platform. If you don’t have this, consider similar opportunities on other platforms you might be more successful on such as Facebook or Google+.
No-one likes hard work and readers are no exception. If they can get a load of information in one place without having to carrying out their own research and digging then that’s what they’ll do.
Carry out your own research project on an aspect relevant to your industry and then create a free report with your findings, either as a post on your blog or a free PDF download. This doesn’t have to involve any major investment into market research; it can in fact be something really simple. You might already have all the data you need from your own company records.
Consider things like changes in pricing trends over the last x years – you can simply look back at your prices and see what’s changed and why. Gather data, create some nice little graphs and charts and combine into a well-written and presented report.
If you’re working on a big project for link building such as a new infographic or resource, create a buzz ahead of its release. Let your followers or blog readers know that something big is coming that might interest them and give them some idea of when they can expect it.
Be sure to get the word out across your social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and then share the link to your resource on those same channels when it’s live. Those that saw your earlier post promoting the resource will often be intrigued enough to take a look.
I hope some of the ideas above get your creative link juices flowing. The key to strong links these days (in case you had not sussed the pattern) is that everyone likes a good shareable resource. Time for a bit of blue sky thinking, thinking outside of the box and other such inspirational tat.
How do you go about building quality links to your site? Do you have other examples of creative link building techniques that really work? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.