Link builders often get a bad rap. They are always looking for the next big tactic, and in typical fashion, it’s a little black hat and soon found out by search engine authorities. However, there are some still viable tactics in link building that marketers need to use in order to improve SEO. Google’s algorithms are always getting smarter, but what link building really comes down to is how you use the strategy. If you use it in malicious manner, the tactic might be condemned as spam, but if you apply tactics without spamming, perhaps you can still use some of these strategies for good linking opportunities. These are just a few examples.
1. Blog Comments
Any blogger who keeps up with their blog hates spam comments. It’s the quickest way to get sent to Google jail. Low-quality link building with spam comments is the worst thing that you can do for your SEO. However, the tactic is innocent enough. If you leave a comment on a relative post, your name will be linked to your site and show off a bit about what you know.
However, marketers abused the tactic to make everything easier and maximized linking efficiency while forgetting about originality. Using an automated script to post multiple blog comments isn’t going to win you any visitors or higher results ranking in Google.
You can still build visibility with blog comments, but it’s important to engage with the writer and comment on blogs with high visibility. If you have a niche website design or a small business site just starting up, it’s beneficial to start looking at other blogs and show genuine interest in their content. The links on blogs are meant to be organic if you are engaging with people and reading other comments.
There are some things to remember. You should never build comment links on a massive scale. However, blog comments do help with the following:
- More interest from new audiences
- Engagement and attention from relevant readers
- Better, diverse and nature linking opportunities
When making blog comments, just remember to read and listen to other writers on the site before writing a reply and hoping for clicks.
2. Press Releases
In 2013, Google changed their Link Schemes somewhat to include press releases. It stated that “Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites” were now examples of unnatural links that were a violation of the guidelines.
For many years, press releases were used by online marketers to create links, and again, things went a little too far. Press releases were going out for the most mundane topics just to build links. However, everyone can tell when something is clearly spam. Press releases that aren’t spam are still viable for linking opportunities. There’s still a question of how much SEO value this tactic can add, but it has worked continuously even after the update last year.
Here’s some points to remember:
- Sites that only publish press releases are most likely going to be ignored by Google
- Press releases clearly displaying spam strategies or manipulative content will result in punishment.
- Press releases must be written for a publicity purpose and can still gain traffic.
If you want to use press releases for link building, then you’re out of luck. They should be well-written, informative pieces that have high quality anchor text and links that will matter to the reader. Press releases can be used to publicize events, create attention from the media and show off products or developments that your company is proud of.
Before there were search engines, how did you find information? These sites are actually older than Google and Yahoo. Originally, they were informative sites with a list of addresses, phone numbers and links to help people get around the web or find businesses. However, when Google gained some ground, directories became even more common because they provided links.
Directories then started popping up as spam link farms. They set prices for paid inclusions without any theme or relevance. Any company could posted a link as long as they paid their tolls. This tactic quickly became abused, and business value went down the tubes. Traffic soon followed once search engines figured out the spam tactic being used. Google will never award those who are using low quality techniques to try and alter results pages.
To build links within directories, you have to look for highly specific niche directories and local directories. There are still a lot of opportunities beyond just the link to take advantage of with a directory. You have to engage outside of your site in order to gain more visibility.
When finding the right directory, look for one with a high relevance to your content and focus on the users. You should be giving a purpose to those who are looking for links in a directory. Reviews, comments, pictures, menus, contact information, product lists and other information is very important to building your directory links with places like Yahoo Local.
These are some amazing local directories to start with:
- Yahoo Local
- Google Places
- Bing Local
- Angie’s List
If you are involved in these directories, you will likely have a lot of linking power over time as these are important linking opportunities for mobile local SEO as well.
4. Reciprocal Linking
The original idea behind reciprocal linking was that a business formed a partnership with another business online, and the two sites worked to link to one another. They sent traffic back and forth. Google considered the links to be a vote of confidence if one popular site was linking to another site not quite as popular.
However, marketers took the next step and went ham on an otherwise innocent way to build links. Suddenly there were pages with hundreds of links to “trusted” partners. It artificially inflated SERPs. Google punished those using reciprocal linking tactics in 2005 with an older algorithm update named Jagger.
Now it’s called “excessive link exchanges,” and you should take care to never get involved with spam link exchanges. However, if you aren’t excessively linking or just using a partnership for the sake of linking, cross-linking between partners is a great way to build links.
Every small business has some online and offline partnerships. It’s important to link between these two and inform as well. Readers will be able to tell when you just have a page of links. However, articles on your site or pages that have some more information that will be used by the reader will work for link building tactics.
Businesses must remember to establish significant business relationships, promote your authority and create trust with readers all around the web as you begin new link building strategies.
5. Guest Blogging
SEOs didn’t know what to think when Matt Cutts went back to his old tactic of stating “[insert SEO tactic] is dead” when he did so with guest blogging. There’s always some backstory to this tactic by Cutts to deter SEOs from using spam strategies with legitimate opportunities to build traffic. Another example is the guest blog. Is it still viable? Like other strategies we have talked about here, there is still a way to write a guest blog and benefit your home page.
Guest blogging didn’t start out as an SEO tactic. It was just a way to get more readership and visibility without building links. Popular blogs with a history and relevance to what you are starting out with were great resources for traffic. There’s a big difference between writing a great guest blog and publishing a spam blog somewhere. Google also isn’t going to ignore content because it’s from a guest author either.
So can you use guest blogging to build links? Yes, if you avoid spam and bad grammar. These are some major no-nos if writing a guest blog.
- Lack of information, bland writing, copied content
- No authority, no substance
- The bio of the author doesn’t have any information.
- The post is clearly all about the links.
- Poor word choices, bad sentence structure and terrible grammar.
Good guest posts will provide information that readers will want to read. The links will be naturally formatted with the right anchor text. The post will be engaging and also have some original content like a video or interesting photo. In addition, authors need to have specific information in their biographies. Articles shouldn’t be designed around selling a business but to help the user.