Advanced link building tactics from Search and Social Spring Summit

Advanced link-building tactics

This panel featured some great SEO techniques and I was most impressed with Brian Chappell from Ignite Social Media.

Link building has had a bad name but is one of those necessary evils. The best way to build incoming links is to publish really useful content. People will link to your content because it's worth sharing. Those are what Google is really looking for when they give greater value to inbound links - people really utilizing your content.  So write well, write often, and make it relevant. You can't go wrong with good content.

But what if your site doesn't have really strong content?  Or it's brand new? Or it's tiny and doesn't get any decent traffic yet? How do you get those inbound links? It used to be that you could just buy them. Then, in 2007 or so, Google decided that was just a little too easy. I mean, buying yourself to the top of the search engine rankings really negates the reliability of search results, right? So how do you get those inbound links then?

Here are four ways, in order of preference and strength of effectiveness from the search engine's perspective:

  • Natural links via content marketing:  Make friends with your industry's bloggers. Get them to write articles about you or your products -- pay them or provide free product if you have to. Exploit social media, that's what it's for. Consider each blogger's design and remember: you want your links in the main content area.

  • Widgets & plugins:  Pay a developer to build a simple  Wordpress plug-in or HTML widget that is relevant to your industry. Embed a link back to your site where others can find that widget/plug-in (don't stuff it with keywords though, that's not necessary).

  • Advertorials: Provide an article or great content to other websites with a link back to your site in the footer or at the end of the article. It's best if your link is nested among other highly valued links in the article.

  • Keyword-rich link buys: You can still buy links, but don't spend money on anchor text manipulation (consider anchor text manipulation a shiny bright target for Google).  Keywords can be near or around the link itself;  they don't need to be in the link itself.

Where do you buy the links?  Here are things to consider when planning a link buy on a website:

  • Age of site (older is better)

  • Crawl rate of page

  • Ranking ability of page (run a search on the title tag of the site in Google - does it rank?)

  • Has the page been indexed by Google (duh)

  • Will your link be in the main content area of the site?  (Sidebars and footers are easy to devalue or identify.  Google knows if a link is in sidebar or footer and gives them less value.)

  • Stay away from your competitors.  Get links on pages none of your competitors are on.

In general, if you can afford to buy links, you can afford blogger outreach and content creation and you can afford decent tracking tools. Start there. You'll see a far bigger return on investment than buying hundreds of random directory links on irrelevant websites.

The Search and Social Annual Spring Summit hit Tampa this past week and brought a bevy of big name SEOs to the area to learn about latest techniques in search engine optimization and social media.  I attended the second day of the conference which was focused primarily on SEO, not social media (boo).  I really appreciated that the speakers assumed knowledge on behalf of the audience — we understood the terminology and the content wasn't dumbed down.

I met some great people, made great connections, learned a few new tips and tricks and most importantly, was reinforced in my business principles. For my purposes, the advanced link building tactics were the most helpful. These tips should give you a few ideas on how to build those inbound links that Google measures in giving your website search value.

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