Few would argue that 2012 changed the SEO industry. In April, we saw the release of Penguin and, for the first time, aggressive penalization of low-quality link building tactics at a huge scale by Google. As an industry, we needed this. We were on borrowed time with these tactics and, let’s be honest, they shouldn’t have worked in the first place.
I know a lot of SEOs who add huge amounts of value to the businesses they work with through quality, creative online marketing. This is what we should be recognised for rather than using low-quality tactics and tricks that have been labelled by others as a “dark art.” Link building certainly fits into this bucket because it is one of the areas where low-quality tactics worked for a long time (some still do) and were far from creative. The 5,000 article syndation links and 10,000 directory submissions you’ve done was hardly us at our best.
I want to share some thoughts on how we can transition link building from a numbers game into genuine online marketing that adds value to a business, beyond increasing their link counts.
Start with why
Last year, I read a book by Simon Sinek called Start with Why. If you haven’t read the book, here is a video of a talk he did at Ted:
The basic message is that successful companies know why they exist, and they use this to guide the decisions they make. They also focus on why they exist when marketing themselves and selling to customers. Rather than getting customers to buy into the what, they get them to buy into the why.
The reason I mention this in the context of link building is because I don’t think we ask this question enough. The temptation when a client asks for our help is to dive in and start building links as quickly as we can, but why are we doing it? Are they the right types of links? Are they going to make a difference to the business? Is an infographic really going to help bring more customers?
Instead of this approach, I believe we should be a bit smarter and far more strategic with our recommendations. Yes, links help rankings and infographics (as an example) help get links. But is that the best we can come up with? Can’t we build links that not only help with rankings, but also drive real customers to the website?
There is already talk of Google reducing the effectiveness of links built via infographics and guest blogging. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about whatever update Google comes out with next?
Why does this business exist?
Whether a client comes to you for link building or not, I think this should be the starting point for an online marketing campaign. To work with a client long-term, you need to really dive into their business and understand it as much as you can. I’m not saying that you necessarily need to become an expert on their products or their market, but getting a deep understanding of how they work and why they do what they do is important.
If you can do this, it will make your job much easier with the following:
- Understanding their industry and what makes this business different
- Knowing how to get things done internally by understanding what matters to the company
- Defining a strategy that is in line with their business goals
- You can talk the same language and they will trust you because of that – once you have trust, it’s a lot harder to fire you, too 🙂
There is another subtle benefit here, too – if you’re pitching to win their business, you’re far more likely to win if you show a genuine understanding of their business.
Why do they need SEO?
There are a few answers to this question that I would not be happy with, and would push for a further explanation:
- More links
- More traffic
- More content
These are all good things to have, don’t get me wrong. But in isolation, they don’t mean much. If you hear this as an answer, you need to ask – why?
- Why do you need more links?
- Why do you need more traffic?
- Why do you need more content?
These will get you closer to the answer you want to hear. Or you can rephrase to be something like this:
- What matters to your business?
- How do you make money?
- What drives your profits every year?
The answer you’re looking for is the one that makes the business survive, and the answer will be in line with why the company exists. This is the starting point that we need because from here, every decision we make is driven by it. This is why it is important to start with these questions. Once you’ve got this clear, you’re in a much better position to start defining a strategy that will not only deliver links, but links that will help the business hit its goals.
Top 20 Document Sharing Sites For Getting More Traffic And Exposure
In the 18 months, there has been an explosion in popularity of document sharing sites. In case you don’t know what a document sharing site is… It’s a website (most are free) where you can upload and share your documents with others.
The Current Top 20 Document Sharing Sites
These sites have become quite popular in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) circles for the purpose of getting high quality backlinks as well as traffic and exposure for a business or product offer.
Many of these document sharing sites have very good domain authority and large amounts of traffic. Because of this, the documents uploaded there, and set to “public viewing”, will get indexed quickly by the search engines and often rank well. This can bring you some nice extra free traffic in addition to the added exposure.
Although I recommend uploading your documents in Adobe PDF format, most of these sites will accept documents in MS Word or Adobe PDF formats, as well as several other popular formats. On some, you can even upload MS Powerpoint slides.
Watch this video tutorial to see how I use document sharing sites to get free traffic and valuable backlinks to my blog and other business pages…
How To Get FREE TRAFFIC From Document Sharing Sites
Don’t measure success by links built
Some may not agree, but this is what I feel about link building right now:
The deliverable of a project isn’t links; the deliverable is a clear improvement in what matters to the client – revenue.
I’m not keen on working on the basis of building x number of links per month, with little or no thought as to why. Why do you need 50 links each and every month? What type of links are they? If you build them every month, will you improve revenue for your client?
Let’s look at a quick example. You’re hired by the Head of SEO at a mid-level company and you agree a target of 50 links per month to be built and a three month contract. At the end of three months, you’ve built 150 links, so you go in for another meeting to discuss the project and declare it a success.
At this meeting is the CEO of the company who hears that you’ve hit your target. They ask how much extra revenue you’ve generated as a result of these links. The Head of SEO doesn’t know, and neither do you. The CEO then asks how your work has helped improve the brand image of their company. You look at the list of 150 guest posts on unrelated blogs and stay quiet.
See the problem?
If we want to be taken more seriously as an industry, we need to be able to confidently deliver results that the CEOs of large companies will relate to and understand.
The CEO doesn’t care if Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO shows an improvement in your backlink profile. They care about paying the salaries of their employees on time, paying the office rent, and making a profit. Links alone, with no thought or strategy behind them, will not do this. They used to work when link building was a commodity and less risky, but no longer can we think like this.
We’re hired to make more revenue for the company, if we can do this by building 50 links a month and it happens, that’s great. But we start with why we’re doing what we’re doing – not starting with links as the default answer.
It may not always be as straight forward as though and I know that it isn’t simple to get to this point. So here are a few ways to take steps towards it.
Focus on the metrics that matter to your client
If your client doesn’t make direct revenue from their website, you need to find an alternative. Imagine you’re working with a B2B website who doesn’t sell online. In this case, your work should be measured on leads/inquiries which lead to revenue.
The bottom line is that your deliverables should make a difference to the business you’re working for. Figure out the key metric, then figure out how to improve it.
Real example: I used to work with a SaaS client in the UK who were B2B. A single sale of their service could give them £100k+ revenue a year, but a conversion would take many months to complete. I could track enquiries from organic search, but I wouldn’t necessarily know if they converted into a customer, so I made a point of having face-to-face meetings with the Marketing Manager each month to see how good those leads were. She was able to tell me if they were on the way to converting into real customers or not. This communication let me see that we were adding huge amounts of value to their business through search.
Try not to sell short-term projects
To be able to focus on this as a metric that you’re measured by, you need to agree on being given enough time to make it happen. Doing a one-off piece of link bait that lasts four weeks is probably not going to help, whereas agreeing a contract for at least six months of activity is much more likely to lead to you having the chance to improve the bottom line.
The only time I think that a short-term project can work is when you’re working on a very specific problem, such as lifting a penalty or training an internal team. I don’t think it is a good idea to take on very short-term link building projects because it encourages short-term thinking.
Choose a strategy that helps you improve the bottom line
This is where it all comes together. By this point, you may decide that to improve revenue for your client, you need to come up with a good link building strategy. You then choose the tactics that fit into this strategy.
You should see the clear difference between this approach and just saying, “We need links,” within a few minutes of talking to your client.
When we pick the link building tactics in this way, we’re choosing ones that will help us improve revenue for the client – not ones that will just let us deliver 50 links per month. If we’re driven by pure number of links, our standards naturally drop, and we will be happy to get any types of links we can just to hit the target we’ve been set.
Examples of getting it right
Let me give you a direct example of a smarter approach: Turning Link Building into Audience Profiling by Richard Baxter. This is link building, but it is driven by a smart strategy that means the links built will mean much more to the company they point to. They will hit that sweet spot where the potential customers of a business hangout and absorb content online.
What about guest blogging? There has been lots of talk about this as a tactic, and it can be a great tactic. But it is also easy to scale, which naturally reduces the quality of the output. Instead of scaling guest blogging, what about doing something like this. This was a guest post that drove more sales of a book than TV and newspaper coverage.
Infographics that matter
No, they’re not dead, but they will become less effective if they’re not good quality and worth sharing. Rather than creating a regular tower graphic and visualizing things that should never be made into an image, why not create something relevant and helpful to your customers? Like this:
What about content marketing for consumers?
The new SEO buzzword that has actually been around for years and years. Instead of producing a piece of content where the goal is just to get links, what about producing a piece of content that is useful to your real customers? I have a great example here from Swissotel, hat tip to the guys at SEOgadget for showing me this one:
What about content marketing in B2B markets?
I have two great examples here, starting with American Express who work with a lot of small businesses. They have the Open Forum that publishes content that small businesses will find useful:
Simply Business have done the same with their guides for small business owners:
Both of these companies are creating content that fits with why they exist – to service small businesses. This is smarter than creating an infographic on a random topic just to get a few links that month.
The CEO test
Next time you build a piece of content, ask yourself, “What would the CEO think of this?”
This can be a good way to sense check what you’re doing and to make sure that it is in-line with the business and will help them hit their goals. Will the CEO be proud of seeing the content on their website? Will they be proud to see the external websites where they’re mentioned?
Yes, links matter – a lot. This isn’t changing anytime soon and our clients need links more than ever. But I’d love to see our industry step up and build links that stand the test of time, and not waste time being worried about Google updates.
This isn’t easy to do – I’m not 100% there yet myself. It involves quite a big change in thinking for a lot of people. But I firmly believe that if we can alter our approach so that we become focused on the goals of a business rather than purely looking at links, the following will happen:
- You will win more business because the clients will see that you focus on what matters to them
- You will be forced to use the tactics that really make a difference to the bottom line
- You will be able to demonstrate that you’ve increased a key metric for a business, not just number of links or rankings which most CEOs don’t worry about
Overall, SEOs will start to be taken seriously as we’re being measured on the right business metrics – not pure rankings or number of links we manage to build.
On a related note, I’ve just released an eBook focused 100% on building links. At 65,000 words, it covers the whole link building process (including a fair amount of information on this topic) and discusses kicking projects off on the right foot to establish business goals early.
For search engines that crawl the web, links are the streets between pages. Using sophisticated link analysis, the engines can discover how pages are related to each other and in what ways.
Since the late 1990’s search engines have used links as votes – representing the democracy of the web’s opinion about what pages are important and popular. The engines themselves have refined the use of link data to a fine art, and complex algorithms create nuance evaluations of sites and pages based on this information.
Links aren’t everything in SEO, but search professionals attribute a large portion of the engines’ algorithms to link-based factors (see Search Engine Ranking Factors). Through links, engines can not only analyze the popularity of a website & page based on the number and popularity of pages linking to them, but also metrics like trust, spam, and authority. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites, while spammy sites receive very few links from trusted sources (see mozTrust). Authority models, like those postulated in the Hilltop Algorithm, suggest that links are a very good way of identifying expert documents on a given subject.
used by search engines
Before embarking on a link building effort, it’s critical to understand the elements of a link used by the search engines as well as how those elements factor into the weighting of links in the algorithms. Search engines use links in many different ways. While we don’t know all the link attributes measured by the engines, through analysis of patent applications, years of experience and hands-on testing, we can draw some intelligent assumptions that hold up in the real world. Below is a list of notable factors worthy of consideration. These signals, and many more, are considered by professional SEOs when measuring link value and a site’s link profile.
The more popular and important a site is, the more links from that site matter. A site like Wikipedia has literally 1000’s of diverse sites linking to it, which means it’s probably a popular and important site. To earn trust and authority with the engines, you’ll need the help of other link partners. The more popular, the better.
The concept of “local” popularity, first pioneered by the Teoma search engine, suggests that links from sites within a topic-specific community matter more than links from general or off-topic sites. For example, if your website sells dog houses, earning links from the Society of Dog Breeders matters much more than earning links from an off-topic, roller skating site.
One of the strongest signals the engines use in rankings is anchor text. If dozens of links point to a page with the right keywords, that page has a very good probability of ranking well for the targeted phrase in that anchor text. You can see examples of this in action with searches like “click here“, where many results rank solely due to the anchor text of inbound links.
It’s no surprise that the Internet contains massive amounts of spam. Some estimate as much as 60% of the web’s pages are spam. In order to weed out this irrelevant content, search engines use systems for measuring trust, many of which are based on the link graph. Earning links from highly trusted domains can result in a significant boost to this scoring metric. Universities, government websites and non-profit organizations represent examples of high-trust domains.
Spam links often go both ways. A website that links to spam is likely spam itself, and in turn often has many spam sites linking back to it. By looking at the totality of these links in aggregate, search engines can understand the “link neighborhood” your website exists in. Thus, it’s wise to choose those sites you link to carefully and be equally selective with the sites you attempt to earn links from.
Link signals tend to decay over time. Sites that were once popular often go stale, and eventually fail to earn new links. Thus, it’s important not only to earn links to your website, but also to continue to earn additional links over time. Commonly referred to as “FreshRank,” search engines use the freshness signals of links to judge current popularity and relevance.
The last few years has seen an explosion in the amount of content shared through social services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Although search engines treat socially shared links differently than other types of links, they notice them nonetheless. There is much debate among search professionals as to how exactly search engines factor social link signals into their algorithm, but there is no denying the rising importance of social channels.
Link building is an art. It’s almost always the most challenging part of an SEO’s job, but also the one most critical to success. Link building requires creativity, hustle, and often, a budget. No two link building campaigns are the same, and the way you choose to build links depends as much upon your website as it does your personality. Below are three basic types of link acquisition.
- “Natural” Editorial LinksLinks that are given naturally by sites and pages that want to link to your content or company. These links require no specific action from the SEO, other than the creation of worthy material (great content) and the ability to create awareness about it.
- Manual “Outreach” Link BuildingThe SEO creates these links by emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind. The SEO often creates a value proposition by explaining to the link target why creating the link is in their best interest. Examples include filling out forms for submissions to a website award program or convincing a professor that your resource is worthy of inclusion on the public syllabus.
- Self-Created, Non-EditorialHundreds of thousands of websites offer any visitor the opportunity to create links through guest book signings, forum signatures, blog comments, or user profiles. These links offer the lowest value, but can, in aggregate, still have an impact for some sites. In general, search engines continue to devalue most of these types of links, and have been known to penalize sites that pursue these links aggressively. Today, these types of links are often considered spammy and should be pursued with caution.
Ranking for Relevant Search Terms
One of the best ways to determine how well a search engine values a given page is to search for some of the keywords and phrases that page targets (particularly those in the title tag and headline). For example, if you are trying to rank for the phrase “dog kennel”, earning links from pages that already rank for this phrase would help significantly.
mozRank (mR) shows how popular a given web page is on the web. Pages with high mozRank (popular) scores tend to rank better. The more links to a given page, the more popular it becomes. Links from important pages (like www.cnn.com or www.irs.gov) increase a page’s popularity, and subsequently its mozRank, more than unpopular websites.
A web page’s mozRank can be improved by getting lots of links from semi-popular pages or a few links from very popular pages.
SEOmoz Domain Authority (or DA) is a query independent measure of how likely a domain is to rank for any given query. It is calculated by analyzing the Internet’s domain graph and comparing it to tens of thousands of queries in Google.
By examining the backlinks of a website that already ranks well for your targeted keyword phrase, you gain valuable intelligence about the links that help them achieve this ranking. Using tools like Open Site Explorer, SEOs can discover these links and target these domains in their own link building campaigns.
Number of Links on a Page
According to the original PageRank formula, the value that a link passes is diluted by the presence of other links on a page. Thus, getting linked-to by a page with few links is better than being linked-to by the same page with many links on it (all other things being equal). The degree to which this is relevant is unknowable (and in our testing, it appears to be important, but not overwhelmingly so), but it’s certainly something to be aware of as you conduct link acquisition.
Potential Referral Traffic
Link building should never be solely about search engines. Links that send high amounts of direct click-through traffic not only tend to provide better search engine value for rankings, but also send targeted, valuable visitors to your site (the basic goal of all Internet marketing). This is something you can estimate based on the numbers of visits/page views according to site analytics. If you can’t get access to these, services like Google Trends for Websites can give you a rough idea of at least domain-wide traffic, although these estimates are known to be wildly inaccurate at times.
It takes time, practice, and experience to build comfort with these variables as they relate to search engine traffic. However, using your website’s analytics, you should be able to determine whether your campaign is successful.
Success comes when you see increases in search traffic, higher rankings, more frequent search engine crawling and increases in referring link traffic. If these metrics do not rise after a successful link building campaign, it’s possible you either need to seek better quality link targets, or improve your on-page optimization.
Get your customers to link to you.
- If you have partners you work with regularly or loyal customers that love your brand, you can use this to your advantage by sending out partnership badges – graphic icons that link back to your site (like Google often does with their Adwords certification program). Just as you’d get customers wearing your t-shirts or sporting your bumper stickers, links are the best way to accomplish the same feat on the web. Check out this post on E-commerce links for more.
Build a company blog. Make it a valuable, informative and entertaining resource.
- This content and link building strategy is so popular and valuable that it’s one of the few recommended personally by the engineers at Google (source: USA Today & Stone Temple). Blogs have the unique ability to contribute fresh material on a consistent basis, participate in conversations across the web, and earn listings and links from other blogs, including blogrolls and blog directories.
Create content that inspires viral sharing and natural linking
- In the SEO world, we often call this “linkbait.” Good examples might include David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors, Compare the Meerkat, or the funny How Not To Clean a Window. Each leverages aspects of usefulness, information dissemination, or humor to create a viral effect – users who see it once want to share it with friends, and bloggers/tech-savvy webmasters who see it will often do so through links. This high quality, editorially earned votes are invaluable to building trust, authority, and rankings potential
- Earning the attention of the press, bloggers and news media is an effective, time honored way to earn links. Sometimes this is as simple as giving away something for free, releasing a great new product, or stating something controversial.
Find directories or listings of relevant resources.
- You can find many of these on SEOmoz’s Directory List or use the search engines themselves to find lists of pages that offer outbound links in this fashion. For example, try searching for allintitle: resources directory at Google and notice the millions of results. Be careful: links that are easy to get often carry risks when pursued aggressively and in volume. A diverse, well rounded link profile is always best.
It’s amazing to realize that another year has passed since the 2011 edition of 79 Link Building Resources where we listed various blogs, their top link building posts, and some great link building tools to add to your toolkit. Those blogs, to this day, are still great resources to visit when looking for posts on link building.
Since that post was published, a lot of things have changed in the link building world. In the 2012 edition of link building resources, we will cover the big changes that have happened in the link building world as well as what works (and doesn’t) when it comes to link building strategy.
Major Happenings in the Link Building World
First off, here’s a rundown of what has happened in the last year or so that has had a major impact on the world of link building.
- Google Algorithm Change History – This timeline is a great way to keep up with the latest algorithm changes Google releases.
- Another Step to Reward High Quality Sites – Google’s official announcement for the Penguin update.
- The Google Penguin Update: Over-Optimization, Webspam, & High Quality Empty Content Pages – SEOBook’s coverage of the first Google Penguin update.
- Google Penguin for non-SEOs – If you are not a SEO and want to grasp what happened with Google Penguin, here is your guide.
Thought Pieces on Post-Penguin Link Building
These posts are a little less how-to and have more insightful content on the post-Penguin link building era.
- Rethinking Enterprise Link Building in a Post-Penguin Era – Bigger brands are more likely to be under a microscope, not only from the search engines but also from competition. For enterprises, it’s even more important to remember how crucial it is to build links naturally.
- Links Are The Web’s Building Blocks, And Fear Of Google Has Them Crumbling – Google has been sending out a whole lot of messages to webmasters about problematic links. People are in a frenzy trying to get rid of links that may or may not be hurting their search engine rankings, and this is a frenzy created by Google. It may not be exactly what Google intended, but it’s happening.
- The New Link Ecology In A Post Penguin World – In a post Penguin world, Google is making it more difficult to achieve long-term success using link ecology tactics.
- Link Building Means Earning Hard Links Not Easy Links – The core message is the same. You don’t want links. You want good links. And sadly, Danny Sullivan thinks many people have completely lost track of what a good link is.
Link Building Recovery After Penguin & Unnatural Link Warnings
Speaking of Google’s Penguin algorithm change, here are some things to do if you were hit by this update or an unnatural link warning in Webmaster Tools.
- Bad Link Building Recovery After Google Penguin – For those who were hit by Google’s Penguin update, the situation is dire. The big question is: Can you recover? Yes. But it won’t be easy. Here are some things you should plan on doing as you begin cleaning up a bad link profile.
- Why So Many Suffered from Google Penguin Update + How to Recover – A big reason why many blogs, businesses and websites have suffered from Google’s Penguin and Panda updates this year is due to inexperienced, Black Hat, or just plain bad SEOs. If you’ve paid for these inexperienced, Black Hat or bad SEOs, or are one yourself, you were waiting to be penalized. And now you may have a big mess to tidy up.
- Strategic Link Building Strategy in the Penguin Age – In this webcast two link building experts – Jon Ball of Page One Power and Erin Everhart of 352 Media – explain how they made key adjustments in their link building strategies to successfully recover and move forward with the Google updates. Click Watch Now and then register to see the previously recorded presentation.
- Unnatural Links: What They Are & What to Do About Them – Did you receive a warning that your site has unnatural links? Learn what unnatural links are and what to do in case you are affected by the Penguin update.
- How Pandas & Penguins Change Your Link Building Strategy – Their post-Panda lowest days (weekends) equal our pre-Panda peak days (Tuesdays – Thursdays). And Erin Everhart wants to tell you how they did it, all by just adjusting their link building strategy.
- How To Create an Excel Spreadsheet to Remove Link Spam Post Penguin – A comprehensive excel spreadsheet template that could be easily duplicated and handed off to an outsourcer for webmaster outreach in order to get the links removed.
- Strategies for Diagnosing Penguin and Recovering – Distilled discusses what Penguin is, how to diagnose a Penguin traffic drop, how to check the toolbar PageRank (TBPR) or Page Authority (PA) of links, how to check indexation of links quickly, and then gives some overview strategies about how to approach different Penguin scenarios.
- 4 Ways to Protect Your Website from Future Penguin Updates – In order to make sure your website isn’t hurt by future Penguin updates, here are four things you should do with your SEO starting now.
- Google Penguin Crashes Wedding Site’s Shady Link Building Strategy – For those who have been negatively impacted, what follows are details about one site that has been hit by the Google Penguin update. This site was guilty of doing some shady link building and had no idea what link building strategies were used due to outsourcing. You’ll also see what they are doing to recover.
- Google Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice – Struggling to know what to do in the wake of Google’s Penguin Update? Judging from all the comments and forum discussions Search Engine Land saw, plenty are. They’ve got a little initial advice from Google on the topic, mixed with their own.
- How to Clean Your Site after the Google Penguin Update – This post outlines the reasons why you might have been affected by the Penguin update and the next steps you should take if you were.
Post-Penguin Link Building Strategies
Next, let’s look at some posts with a wide variety of link building strategies, all written by experts post-Penguin.
- 8 Link Building Tips – For today’s Whiteboard Friday, Paddy Moogan covers eight tips to help you build more links in eight minutes. Read all 35 link building tips from Paddy at Mozcon here.
- Link-building Tips and Tools for Bloggers in a Post-Panda and Penguin World – While the title says for bloggers, these tips and tools can be used by anyone endeavoring in link building.
- 17 Experts Weigh in on How to Do Quality Link Building in Volume – 17 SEO experts have contributed their thoughts and experience on how to do quality link building in volume. Scaling link building is tough, read this post to find out how to do it.
- 131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies – A list and discussion of 131 (legitimate) link building tactics, some of which work today just as they did 10 years ago.
- Penguin Analysis: SEO Isn’t Dead, But You Need to Act Smarter (And 5 Ways to Do So) – Microsite Masters provides solutions on how to survive and thrive in SEO after the Google Penguin Update.
- Greg Boser at SEOpen House: Your Post-Penguin Questions Answered – BlueGlass put together 5 videos highlighting Greg Boser’s talk at our SEOpen House. See Greg speak about Penguin, link building, sustainable SEO business models, anchor text diversity, and more!
- The 6 Month Link Building Plan for an Established Website – This is not a six-month SEO plan, so it doesn’t cover site audits or keyword research, for example (although you should read this post if you are planning to conduct an SEO audit). James Agate focuses on the acquisition and optimization of links and content for links.
- The Four Keys To Post-Penguin Directory Submission Happiness – When it comes to directory submissions that are generally safe, a focus on quality, diversity, timing and relevance must play a central part in selecting which directories to submit to.
- The Definitive Guide to Qualifying a Link Prospect [with Video] – Link builders should look for cues that make a website a good potential partner. They should look at metrics like a SEO, but also at less tangible cues like engagement and trustworthiness.
- The Noob Guide to Link Building – Everything about link building including a six month link building plan.
- What Types of Links Should We Be Getting – Penguin has changed everything. Oh wait, no it hasn’t. All it did was penalize those who were doing what they knew was wrong, but the only difference is that Google actually followed through with some of their threats on bad links. So what SHOULD we be doing? We know what links we SHOULDN’T be pursuing, so it’s finally time to break down the links that you can get.
- Anti-Penguin Link Building Plan – The best way to protect your site from this uncharted territory is through your existing link profile. Especially if you already have obtained great and high value links pointing to your domain. Adding more of these types of links to your site make it more solid in the eyes of Google (given that they add to your site’s percentage of good vs. bad links based on their historic index).
- 12 Timeless Link Building Tips for Business Blogs – Here are a few timeless tips for building natural links that will attract (and engage) customers to your business blog.
- Link Building Strategies – The Complete List – This may have been done before Penguin struck, but it is still an awesome resource including tons of different ideas for links through content, customer service, design, development, and more.
Links to Avoid
Just as important as the links you should be building, here are some posts on links you shouldn’t be building.
- 17 Types of Link Spam to Avoid – Going forward, the wise SEO would want to take note of the types of link spam to make sure that what they’re doing doesn’t look like a type of link spam. Google’s response to, and attitude toward, each type of link spam varies, but every link building method becomes more and more risky as you begin moving toward the danger zone.
- 10 Types Of Unnatural Link Building Tactics and 10 Quality Alternatives – How can you compete when the competitors are building links that are low quality, paid, or otherwise spammy? Here’s a look at 10 types of link building strategies that are spammy, low quality, or unnatural, plus 10 quality alternatives.
- 7 Link Building Mistakes You Ought to Avoid – Some significant changes have been made through Google updates that can affect your link-building strategy, so let’s explore those changes and others to help you maintain, if not increase, your rankings.
Link Building with Content
Since content is becoming increasingly more important, here are some posts on link building with content:
- How to Create Content Partnerships that Build Ethical Links and Authority – This article will give content marketers tips on how to effectively (and safely) link build in today’s post-Penguin SEO landscape by using quality content and forming long-term content relationships.
- How to Survive the Google Penguin Update with Effective Content Writing – The days of cheap and low-cost SEO articles are rapidly going away — thankfully. With its successive updates, Google is trying to push forward content that really deserves its place in the ranking index. In turn, this means pushing down content that doesn’t carry much value: Content that just rambles on will not be ranked well no matter how brilliantly it has been “optimized.”
- Why Link Building Strategies Fail – Learn how to create a content strategy that includes link bait (isn’t all link bait) and figure out where you can leverage the content for link building.
- 10 Ways to Use Images for Link Building – The great thing about using images for marketing is that it’s one of the most efficient ways to build brand recognition and acquire natural mentions/links to a website, seeing that the images can easily stimulate interest in an audience (particularly if they are really compelling and/or visually appealing), and the images are very easy to disseminate.
- The Ethics of Link Building Through Content – A look at the ethical / moral side of link building through content.
- 7 Reasons Content Marketing is Better Than Link Building – Content marketing and link building both have their merits in the realm of search marketing. However, the tale of the tape reveals that content marketing has a distinct advantage over link building for marketers. Here are seven reasons why.
- Content Auditing for Link Builders – Why You Should Do It, Tips, and a Spreadsheet – Find out why link builders should consider a content audit spreadsheet to organize link worthy content details in one place.
- Building Links with Video Content – Learn about the SEO benefits of video, where to place video, video sitemaps, and places to pitch your new video for potential links.
- 10 Ideas for Link Bait and 5 Ways of Getting the Word Out – Link bait ideas and ways to make sure your link bait content gets links.
Link Building Locally
If you have a local business, these link building strategies are made just for you.
- 5 Local Linkbuilding Ideas For The Post-Penguin/Panda Era – Andrew Shotland offers up some tried and true local marketing tips that just so happen to also help generate links, hopefully without infuriating any Google algo-beasts.
- The Complete Guide to Link Building with Local Events – Whether you’re a small local business or an international company, hosting local events is a great way to build your brand, both offline and online.
- Link Building for Local Search – Let’s say that the worst case scenario happens and you lose your search visibility in Google. Wouldn’t it be great if that didn’t completely cripple your business because you had such great local visibility? That’s just one reason why local links are becoming more critical than ever.
- 5 Practical Link Building Strategies for Local Businesses – A list of link building angles for local and regional businesses looking to expand their presence online.
- Ethical Wikipedia Link Building – Inbound Marketers, SEO’s (whatever you want to call us) are looking to drive relevant traffic, and Wikipedia can be a great source (no-follow or not) of that but also link value.
Link Building with PR & Social Media
Think PR and social media have nothing to do with link building? Think again.
- SEO Mindshift: Link Building As Online PR & Social Promotion – Isn’t Google Penguin putting the hammer down on many SEO focused link building schemes? Do links even matter anymore, now that social shares are being debated as the new electricity of the web? To help answer those questions, Lee Odden shares some insights to provide some context for an effective approach that is risk free, relevant, and high impact for building links and attention to a new website or social destination.
- How to Construct and Use Personas for Link Building and Social Media – How to use created personas in doing actual link acquisition and social media marketing practices, by using them as ambassadors that will help scale the process of marketing a brand over the web.
- Using Social Media To Build Links & Impact Your SEO – In this post, SEO.com will discuss using social media to impact your SEO efforts and how the two can work together to grow your business.
- Better Than Link Building: Authority Building with HARO – Rather than link building, Matt McGee has been doing authority building with HARO and sees great results from it, including increased search traffic.
Link Building with Conversions in Mind
If your ultimate goal is website conversions, then keep that in mind when link building.
- E-Comm Websites: Step Up your Q4 Content Game – Learn how to create content that leads to conversions and links.
- How to Develop Conversion-Oriented Link Building Strategies using Google Analytics – Instead of pushing your way to obtain higher search rankings through link building, why not use your link building efforts to hit two birds with one stone – to improve both rankings and conversions – by building two strong channels where you can generate conversions (via search and referrals).
The Top Link Building Tools
Nothing makes link building more productive and effective than the right tools. Here are posts reviewing some favorite link building tools of 2012:
- 15 Helpful Link Building Tools – A list of some helpful link building tools you can use day in and day out for guest posting, BLB, and group interviews.
- 6 Link Building Tools to Boost Your Traffic – Matt Beswick tested six of the most popular link-building tools over the last few months to figure out the pros and cons of each. Here’s what you need to know.
- 8 Link Building Tools I Couldn’t Live Without – Included in this list are tools that Jon Quinton uses for a variety of things such as valuing a link prospect, right through to identifying poor quality links that he might want to consider removing.
- 6+ Best Link Building Tools That Help Your Organize and Track the Mess – Link building is one of the most exhausting, frustrating processes associated with online business. Whether you run a shop or a blog, you are constantly trying to use SEO tactics to promote. Which means cultivating positive relationships that will lead to viable backlinks. These tools can help you keep track of it all.
- Link Building Tools We Use at Distilled – Distilled gathered up a list of all the link building tools and resources they turn to daily across the company for data, analysis, research, customer relationship management, content promotion, and inspiration.
The Best Blogs Discussing Link Building
Want to keep up with link building news? Here are the top SEO blog’s link building categories.
- Link Building on Search Engine Land
- Link Building on Search Engine Watch
- Link Building on SEOmoz
- Link Building on Search Engine Roundtable
- Link Building on Search Engine Journal
- Link Building on KaisertheSage
- Link Building on WordTracker
- Link Building on Ontolo
- Link Building on BlueGlass
- Link Building on SEOgadget
- Link Building on Distilled
- Link Building on Point Blank SEO
- Link Building on Pole Position Marketing
- Link Building on Vertical Measures
Want to follow link buildling on Twitter? Don’t miss the 30 Link Building Experts You Need to Follow list.
Q&A on Link Building
Have questions about link building, or want to demonstrate your link building expertise? Here are some places where you will find lots of people asking about link building.
- Search Marketing on LinkedIn Answers (search for link building)
- Link Building Group on LinkedIn
- Link Building on Quora
- Link Building on Focus
There you have it! 79 great link building resources to chew on. Did I miss any of your favorite posts or link building blogs? If so, please share them in the comments, and happy linking!
About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.
As online marketers gear up for 2013, it’s clear that the methods we use to acquire backlinks to our and our clients websites have changed. It is also clear that Google will continue to roll countless updates that will have some impact (big and small) on sites that aren’t careful with their link building tactics.
Because of this, I decided to put together a compilation of all the amazing link building posts I have read this year (whether they were published this year or not) as a guide to future proof your link strategy and execution. It’s important to remember that although these strategies work amazingly well, you shouldn’t count on just one of them to help you secure search engine visibility, rather work to build a well-rounded portfolio of backlinks which will limit your risk if the almighty Google one day decides to discount the strategy.
To get started, I’ve grouped each resource into one of eight buckets: Guest Blogging, Social Media, Blogging / Link Bait, Broken Link Building, Online PR, Competitive Link Building, Giveaways, and Localized Link Building. So without further ado, the 47 resources to carry your link building through 2013!
Taking Another Look At Guest Blogging & Outreach – Search Engine Watch
4 Prospecting Approaches for Broken Link Builders – Citation Labs
Guest Blogging Done Right – WhiteFire
The One Element Most Linkbuilders Miss – JohnFDoherty.com
How Social Media Drives Killer Links – Stone Temple Consulting
Guide To Finding Linkbuilding Targets With Social Media – Search Engine Land
3 Ways To Build Links Through Social Media – WordTracker
5 Tips To Kick Start Your Link Building via Social Media Monitoring – Search Engine Watch
Blogging / Link Bait
Infographic Link Building: Reverse Image Search – PaddyMoogan.com
88 Content Creation Ideas for Better Business Blog Posts, Images, or Videos – Search Engine Watch
The Pinterest Effect – Avalaunch
How To Future Proof Your Infographic Strategy – RossHudgens.com
Appearance Matters: How To Format Your Blog Posts For Social & Linkbait Success – Search Engine Journal
Let’s Talk About Future Bait – LinkBuildr
How To Create A Top List That Goes Viral – Skyrocket SEO
Broken Link Building
Broken Link Building Tips: Interview With Melanie Nathan – Citation Labs
5 Creative Broken Link Building Strategies – Pointblank SEO
The Reciprocity Link Building Method – Search Engine People
Broken Link Building: Feast On Your Competitors This Thanksgiving – SEER Interactive
A Tactical Guide To Broken Link Building – Blue Fountain Media
Why PR Outreach & Dating Are One In The Same – iAcquire
What Bloggers Are Saying About Your PR Pitch – Distilled
Create Your Own Damn News – SEO.com
Better Than Link Building: Authority Building With HARO – Small Business Search Marketing
Summary: Online PR Strategies on #SEOchat – Search Marketing Weekly
Competitive Link Building
Competitor Backlink Analysis in Excel – SEER Interactive
A Stalker’s Guide To Competitive Link Building – BlueGlass
How Contests and Giveaways Drive Long Tail SEO Traffic – SEO Body Builder
Localized Link Building
Link Building For Local Search – Search Engine Watch
Local SEO Directories & Gyro Sandwiches – Portent
5 Local Linkbuilding Ideas For The Post-Penguin/Panda Era – Search Engine Land
5 Practical Link Building Strategies For Local Businesses – Search Engine People
Here is a huge list of link building resources that I’ve collected over the last couple of years. I’ve categorised them all and you can use the navigation on the left hand side to find your way to specific resources. If I’ve missed something, feel free to let me know using this form.
Selling a Link Building Project
How to sell link building to someone that doesn’t know what it is – By Hugo Guzman
Selling to Win Book – By Richard Denny
Planning & Project Management
62 steps to the definitive link building campaign – By Mark Nunney
The 6 Month Link Building Plan for an Established Website – By James Agate
Project Management for SEO (2012 Edition!) – By Tom Critchlow
Structuring an SEO Project: Moving Away from the Retainer Model – By Sam Crocker
Tips for Effective SEO Project Management – By Justin Briggs
Planning a Link Building Campaign – By Paddy Moogan
The SEO Project Management Jedi Challenge – By Aleyda Solis
Guide to Competitive Backlink Analysis – By Justin Briggs
Comparing Link Data Tools – By Richard Baxter
Competitive Link Analysis Tips – Whiteboard Friday – By Rand Fishkin
How to Visualize Competitor Link Profiles in Excel – By Nick Bernard
Link Profile Analysis for Link Building Strategies – By Robert Lloyd
7 Different Visualisations of Link Profiles – By Tom Critchlow
12 Google Link Analysis Methods – By Bill Slawski
Technical Hacks for Content Marketing – By Justin Briggs
Content Strategy Generator – By Dan Butler
The Content Marketer’s Guide to Web Content – By Amanda Milligan
How to Make Your Website More Interesting and Linkworthy – By Chris Gilchrist
What It Takes To Get Remarkable Content Done – By Mike King
Content Strategy Resources – By Jon Colman
Content Strategy and UX: A Modern Love Story – By Kristina Halvorson
The Time For Content Marketing Is Now – By Tom Critchlow
Beyond Link Building – Using Links and Content to Hit Business Goals – By Paddy Moogan
7 Types of Content to Get Traffic and Links – By Paddy Moogan
Content Creation: Elements of Successful Content – By Kristi Hines
Creating a Content Plan for your Business – By Kristi Hines
Finding Great Topics for your Target Audience – By Kristi Hines
Amazing Content Examples
Arms Globe Visualization – By Chrome Experiments
Content Forum for Small Businesses – By American Express
Eurozone debt web: Who owes what to whom? – By the BBC
Death by Caffeine – By Energy Fiend
Unlock the 007 in you. You have 70 seconds! – By Coke Zero
Who owns the most servers? – By Intac
The Single Malt Whisky Flavour Map – By Malts.com
A Visualisation of US Debt – By Kleptocracy
Film Strips – By Tom Evans
Film Statistics interactive – By Blimp Design
Hollywood Data Explorer – By James Fisher
Information is Beautiful Awards – By David McCandless
Form follow function – By Jongmin Kim
The Ultimate Guide to Worldwide Etiquette – By Swissotel
Evolution of Western Dance Music – By Thomson
Small Business Guide to Google Analytics – By Simply Business
Annual Review of Airbnb – By Airbnb
Link Building Tactics
The Ultimate Guide to Advanced Guest Blogging – By Pratik Dholakiya
The Ultimate Guest Blogger’s Guide for 2013 – By Mike Sobol
5 Jaw Dropping Tips for Guest Posting Success – By Matt Geer
How to Evaluate Guest Post Opportunities – By James Agate
Guide to Guest Blogging – By Kristi Hines
Broken Link Building
The Broken Link Building Bible – By Russ Jones
Creative Broken Link Building Tips – Jon Cooper
Broken Link Building using BuzzStream – By Paddy Moogan
Creative Broken Link Building – By Jon Cooper
Broken Link Building Guide: From Noob to Novice – By Anthony Nelson
How to Use the Broken Link Building Strategy to Get Links – By Kristi Hines
Infographic Link Building
How to Build Links with Infographics – By Justin Briggs
Infographic Link Building using BuzzStream – By Paddy Moogan
Linkbait Guide – By Ed Fry
How Building Links with Infographics is Changing – By Kristi Hines
What Makes A Great Infographic? 8 Experts Weigh In – By Arnie Kuenn
Getting the Maximum Number of Links From Your Infographic – By John Pring
Infographic Clean-up as Link Building Outreach – By Oli Mason
Link Building with Images
10 Ways to Use Images for Link Building – By Jason Acidre
3 Ways to Use Google’s New Search by Image for Link Building – By Jason Stinnett
Link Building for Image Rich Websites – By Wiep Knol
Link Building with Google’s Search by Image Feature – By Kieron Hughes
Collections of Techniques
92 Ways to Get (and Maximize) Press Coverage – By Chris Winfield
33 Links & How to Get Them – By Justin Briggs
Pointblank Link Building Tactics – By Jon Cooper
131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies – By Julie Joyce
3 Scalable Link Building Tactics That Won’tLeave a Footprint – By Matthew Green
7 Advanced Link Building Strategies for a Competitive Edge – By Pratik Dholakiya
101 Ways to Build Link Popularity – By Aaron Wall
The Most Creative Link Building Post Ever – By Jon Cooper
Vertical Specific Tactics
How to Make Your Ecommerce Site Link Worthy – By Julie Joyce
Guide to Link Building for Ecommerce – By Linda Bustos
Creative Link Building for Ecommerce Sites – By Stephanie Chang
Forum Participation Rubric for Ecommerce Link Building – By Donny Rhoades
40 SEO Strategies and Optimization Tips for Ecommerce Websites – By Jason Acidre
Ecommerce Link Building in 2013 – 6 Experts Weigh In – By Matt Gratt
Link Building for Ecommerce Sites – Targeting the Right Anchor Text – By Geoff Kenyon
Link Building & SEO strategies for e-commerce #SMX Munich – By Jackie Hole
Easy E-Commerce Link Building Strategies – By Stephanie Beadell
Link Building for Small Ecommerce Sites – By Rob Ousbey
Link Building for Ecommerce Presentation – By Richard Baxter
Link Building for Affiliates – By Julie Joyce
Link Building: How is it different for affiliates? – By Paddy Moogan
SEO Experts Discuss Link Building for Affiliates – By Jason Acidre
Local Link Building
Unmissable Local Link Building Opportunities – By James Agate
The Complete Guide to Link Building with Local Events – By Kane Jamison
5 Link Building Tactics to Improve Your Local Rankings – By Matt Green
35 Local Link Opportunities You Missed – By Adam Melson
Local Link Building Strategies – By Ryan Clark
Linkbait Ideas for Small Business Owners – By Patrick Hathaway
B2B Link Building
Six Degrees Of SEO Bacon & B2B Link Building Q&A – By Debra Mastaler
B2B SEO Link Building – By Eric-Jan Bulthuls
B2B Link Building – By Matt Gratt
B2C Linkbuilding for B2B Industries – By John Doherty
The Link Prospector’s Guide to the Tilde – By Garrett French
Beginner’s Guide to Link Prospecting using Google Search – By Garrett French
Quick Queries for Quick Wins – By Adam Melson
Improve Your Link Prospecting With Reductive Queries – By Ross Hudgens
Smart Link Building Queries for Any Industry – By Adam Melson
Creative Link Prospecting: Following a News Story – By Ken McGaffin
The Scouting Report for Link Building Rookies – By James Daugherty
Extreme Link Prospecting With SEOQuake – By Jason Acidre
Link Prospecting with Pivot Tables – By John-Henry Scherck
Using SEOmoz Tools for Link Prospecting – By Patrick Hathaway
Prospecting with Power – Using Link Prospector with Screaming Frog for Brands – By John-Henry Scherck
21 Link Builders Share Advanced Link Building Queries – By Garrett French
9 Actionable Tips for Link Prospecting – By Paul Rogers
Using Blogrolls to Expand your Link Prospecting Lists – By Paul May
3 Ways to Identify Link Prospects – By George Fischer
Link Prospecting with Twitter Tools and APIs – By John Doherty
Content-based Outreach for Link Building – By Justin Briggs
Outreach Specialists Bible – By Dave Snyder
The 7 Principles of Bulk Outreach for Link Building – By Garrett French
Scalable Outreach with Gmail and Boomerang – By Eric Covino
You Can get Links from Cold Outreach – By Chris Dyson
22 Tips for a Better Outreach Response – By Steph Grove
Get off the Schneid with Social Outreach Link Building – By Megan Brown
Using Boomerang for Link Building Outreach – By Paddy Moogan
The Link Builder’s Guide to Email Outreach – By Neil Patel
Outreach Letters for Link Building [Real Examples] – By Peter Attia
Measuring Your Link Building with Google Analytics – By Anna Lewis
How to Measure and Report on Link Building – By Michelle Lowery
How your reports make your link building suck – By Justin Briggs
Link Building Report Template – By Gab Goldenberg
3 Ways to Measure Link Building ROI – By Julie Joyce
Cleanup & Contact: Easily Gather Link Data With Our New Tool – By Richard Baxter
How to Get Rid of Unwanted Backlinks – By Jennifer Van Iderstyne
Boom! 1 Email, 60 Bad Links Gone, 4 Tools for Easy Link Cleanup – By Cyrus Shepherd
A How to Guide on Identifying Bad Links and Pruning Them Using Google’s Disavow Tool – By Navneet Kaushal
Easy step-by-step guide to finding low quality links – By Paddy Moogan
Adventures in Link Removal – Slides and Webinar Recording – By Jon Quinton
Another step to reward high-quality sites – By Matt Cutts
Google Launches “Penguin Update” Targeting Webspam In Search Results – By Danny Sullivan
Two Weeks In, Google Talks Penguin Update, Ways To Recover & Negative SEO – By Danny Sullivan
WordPress, Penguin, Google and Matt Cutts’ take on WPMU.org – By James Farmer
7 Achievable Steps For Great SEO After The Penguin Update – By Chris Warren
Link Building Tools
Broken Link Building – A Case Study – By Ben Jackson
Sweden Promote Innovative Safe Sex Through QR Codes & Love Making App – By Simply Zesty
What Happens When You Build 10,000 Dodgy Links to a New Domain in 24 Hours? – By Marcus Taylor
Penalty Lifted: How To Use Google’s Disavow Tool Case Study – By Cyrus Shepherd
Google’s Disavow Tool Works – Penalty Removal – By Duke Tanson
1st Power of External Links – By SEER Interactive
Offline is the New Online Link Building Strategy [Case Study] – By Matt Ridout
Post-Penguin Anchor Text Case Study – By Court Tuttle
35 Ways to get Links in 35 Minutes – By Paddy Moogan
23,787 Ways to Build Links in 30 Minutes – By Hannah Smith
The Future of Link Building – By Will Critchlow
Scaling Content Marketing – By Jon Quinton
Advanced Link Building Strategies for Affiliates – By Patrick Altoft
Link Building through Blogger Outreach – By Paddy Moogan
Link Building Strategies: 2013 Edition – By Ross Hudgens
How SEOgadget Builds Links – By Richard Baxter
Tools of the Trade for Link Building – By John Doherty
What is your Link Building Game Plan? – By Wil Reynolds
Link Building Reporting – By Justin Briggs
Advanced Link Building Strategies – By Patrick Altoft
Link Building Training
DistilledU – By Distilled
Link Building Course – By Jon Cooper
Linkmoses Email List – By Eric Ward
Ultimate Guide to Link Building – By Eric Ward and Garrett French
Clockwork Pirate Link Building eBook – By Kelvin Newman