Link building is one of the most important
elements in SEO.
It is a strategic process that involves a number of different elements.
A successful SEO strategy requires knowledge of Google ranking factors, page authority and metrics as well as understanding the importance of links.
If you want more valuable search engine traffic link building is essential. But any old links won’t do the trick. They have to be links from high quality, relevant websites and blogs.
In this guide we will show you everything you need to know about link building in 2019 and beyond.
SEO is complex. In fact, there are over 200 ranking factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking your website. But there are three main ranking factors that can give your website a real boost.
The first is content. As one of the most important ranking factors, exceptional content is the key to successful rankings. But great content is all about relevance and authority rather than keywords. Authority is gained by conveying expertise in your niche and through writing useful content that people want to read. People are more likely to link to a comprehensive guide which is highly relevant or an article that encourages readers to challenge commonly held beliefs and consider a topic from a different perspective.
The second most important ranking factor is backlinks. Although this remains an essential ranking factor, more links don't necessarily result in a higher ranking. Links have to be from an authoritative source. The key to link building is to create content that is worth linking to before promoting it strategically to the right people. There are multiple misconceptions about what this means, and how it is achieved, but hopefully through our guide we can show you how to build links the right way. When content attracts a lot of high quality back links you achieve three important factors; link authority, link diversity and increased number of backlinks.
The third is user experience. In 2016 there was a major shift towards mobile users in terms of Google rankings. More people are accessing content on mobile devices and tablets. Therefore, good practice would encourage you to pay attention to what Google likes. Google recommends responsive websites. Responsive design is the easiest way to target mobile users and Google favours optimised sites when it presents searches made on a tablet or Smartphone. If visitors are accessing a website on a mobile or tablet device they should be able to access the content as easily as they would on a desktop computer. User friendly websites make it much easier for web visitors to read, absorb and share content.
It is also worth mentioning that while there are Google specific ranking factors, websites such as Moz, Majestic and Ahrefs all place emphasis on their own specific ranking factors. For Majestic, they look at Trust Flow while Ahrefs use UR (URL rating) which measures the strength of the URL backlink profile and the chances of the URL ranking in the top positions on Google. Ahrefs also use DR ranking factors which refer to Domain Rating. This shows the overall strength of an entire website's backlink profile. When trying to rank a website and using the various SEO tools you should bear in mind what ranking factors your chosen SEO tool focuses on.
Developed by Moz, Page Authority is a score that determines how well a page will rank in the search engine results pages. Page Authority will give authority to web pages on a scale of between 1 and 100. The higher the score, the more the page is likely to rank. This is one of the main ranking factors identified by Moz.
Domain Authority was also developed by Moz and measures the strength of an entire website. It is used to predict how well a website will rank in the search engine results pages (SERP). Domain authority is calculated by combining total links and linking root domains into a single score. A domain authority score will range from 1 through to 100. The higher the score, the more likely the website is to rank. Links are really important for SEO.
But what exactly are links and how do you build them? The next chapters will explain…
There is no doubt about it. Links are important for SEO. But with so many different types of links how do you know which ones are the best? In this section I will teach you the main types of links and how to find them.
#1 Earned Media
Links through earned media are simply links from other websites. The best way to get more earned links is to create content that people want to share and link to. Ideally, the content should be hosted on your website or as a guest post. Here's how you can build links through earned media:
All blogs need content. But average content won't get you very far. You need to create exceptional content. Bloggers will only share your content if it is relevant, valuable and interesting. Be strategic when it comes to identifying bloggers to reach out to.
Step 1 – Research
Good outreach begins with effective research. Whatever niche you are in, a little research is needed. Start off by searching for non-commercial keywords that relate to your business. Let's say for example you offer content marketing services. Head over to a search engine and type in search strings such as “Content Marketing" + in depth resource or “Content Marketing" + “comprehensive guide" + “guest post".
This will bring up a list of relevant websites that could be potential targets for your outreach.
Set up a spreadsheet and make a list of potential targets that you could reach out to.
Aim to create a list of 40-50 suitable sites. The next step may eliminate some of these sites.
Step 2 Qualification
In your spreadsheet you should have a list of relevant blogs in your industry. The next step involves going through your list and qualifying each site to make sure that they are suitable for blogger outreach. The best way to do this is to collect key metrics on each of the websites. This data should include: posts per week, page rank, trustworthiness of the blog, shares and comments, the number of followers and domain authority.
But how do you find these metrics? Read on to find out the step by step process.
A website analysis will determine whether the site is worth linking to. Firstly, choose a suitable analysis tool such as Moz, Majestic or Ahrefs, but be selective about the tools that you use. Ahrefs is one of the best and most comprehensive resources that you can use for this task. So head on over to Ahrefs (or a tool of your choice) and find the Site Explorer. Take one of the sites from your spreadsheet created in Step 1.
Once you have entered the link into Ahrefs look for the following:
Domain Rating – The higher the value the better the site is to reach out to. For Moz users this will be referred to as Domain Authority
Relevance – Check that the site is closely related to your website, looking specifically at posts and pages. If your website is based around marketing for example, a site that promotes lifestyle won't be a suitable outreach prospect, no matter how good the domain rating is.
Links Position on the page – Where do the links in the website appear? Links within the content are much more beneficial than those which are hidden away in the footer content.
Authority and Trust – This can be checked using both Moz and Majestic. For Moz you want to pay particular attention to domain authority and page authority. For Majestic citation flow and trust flow are the main metrics to assess for your link.
Ultimately the qualification process involves assessing a website in terms of relevance, human value and authority. If the site is strong in each of these three areas, it is probably a good prospect for outreach. It is worth noting that authority is one of the most important factors to consider when considering whether a site is worth reaching out to.
Now that you have a curated list of quality sites for outreach the next step is to build relationships with the owners of these blogs and websites.
Step 3 – Relationship Building
In the previous steps you identified and qualified your link prospects and you should now have a list of great sites and blogs to target. But you can’t just start sending out emails to gain links. You have to be strategic.
Establish a connection with the blog or website owner. Connect with them on social media, comment on and share their content, read their content, subscribe to their newsletter, complement what they have written or even give them a call to discuss, you would be surprised how many relationships can be built with real human interaction
When it comes to actually reaching out to them, develop a strong pitch. Make it personal and keep it short. Think about what you want to achieve and how can you bridge the gap – the goal here is to provide something of value, rather than simply asking them to link to your content. Contribute first, secure the link second.
Above all, show your expertise and build strong relationships with industry influencers.
#2 Editorial Links
Editorial links are links which are not strictly speaking, paid for or traded. Editorial links and earned links are very similar. Gain these links through the creation of high quality, valuable content. The Skyscraper Technique and Expanded List post are both successful content creation methods used to secure editorial links. This type of link is highly valued because it is associated with authority and legitimacy. When website content is of a very high standard, other websites naturally provide links. Securing an editorial link will boost both website traffic and authority. Find out in the next sections how you can attract editorial links:
Link Bait is a method of viral marketing and is a great way to secure editorial links if your content matches the headline. This is important. There are so many examples where content does not reflect the headline or introduction.
Content promoted through this technique is well received and appeals to a wide audience. It should be written in a way that encourages social shares. Popular themes for this type of content would include controversy, humour, history, celebrity, politics, current affairs or discovery, something that is disruptive or helpful is often the key.
The focus is always on providing something of value to your audience.
How-to content is a great way to build your credibility. It also increases the chance of your content being perceived as authoritative.
The Skyscraper Technique from Brian Dean focuses on finding link worthy content, creating something much better and then promoting your content through outreach.
Step 1 Find a problem– For this content strategy to work you need a problem and a good one which hasn't been covered thousands of times before.
Step 2 Source link worthy content– Now that you have identified a problem you need to find a suitable piece of content that is relevant in your niche and most importantly, something that will attract links
Step 3 Make it 1000 times better– Using the content you have found, make something even better. Increase the length, improve relevance and include more detail. Check that the strategies and techniques that you write about are current and not what people were talking about five years ago. You can find some great articles but if it was published several years ago, it's not going to receive the interest that you need.
Step 4 Outreach– Once you have a polished piece of content ready for publication, it's time to identify suitable sites to target for outreach. Outreach strategies were covered in detail in the ‘Relationship Building' section in Chapter 1 of this guide.
#3 Guest Posting
Guest posting still works for SEO. But finding high quality sites for guest posting takes time and research.
The best websites need to be both relevant and authoritative. They also need to publish exceptional content and have a strong following.
Guest blogging is valuable provided that it is approached correctly. It can help you identify new audiences, engage your industry, build relationships, establish authority, increase awareness and build links.
In 2014 Matt Cutts made a bold statement stating that guest blogging was finished. Guest posting is still relevant but you should be aware that interactions drive visitors to your content.
This type of strategy should only be used to raise awareness or as a platform for you to teach others something new. Focus on high quality posts rather than low quality content just to secure a link.
So how exactly do you start with guest blogging?
Here's the ultimate guest blogging strategy:
1. Find suitable blogs to write for. There are several strategies that you can use to find these blogs including;
Google Search using search strings such as –
Keyword “submit an article"
Keyword “contribute to our site"
Keyword “become a contributor"
Keyword “guest post"
Keyword “articles wanted"
Keyword “submit content"
Keyword “guest author"
And many more – Also try using variants of your keyword
Twitter Search – Using the Twitter search facility, enter a search string such as “keyword" + guest post
Alltop.com – Visit AllTop, type in your keyword and you will be presented with a list of the best websites in your industry. Although not all of the sites in AllTop will accept guest posts, with a little research you can find a few great sites that do accept guest bloggers.
2. Once you have your list of potential blogs for guest posting you need to refine and qualify your prospects. Using the techniques learned in the previous chapter of this guide, check that the sites you have chosen are authoritative, relevant, high quality and they have plenty of social followers.
3. If you are looking for a link from a particular site you need to establish contact before you ask for a link. The best way to do this is to engage with them on Twitter, comment on their blog or email them directly and comment on a piece of content.
4. Next, you will need to identify the ideal topic. It is really important that you understand who you are writing for. If you are writing for experts in your industry then you can include all the technical jargon in the world. If not, be careful about how you write. Check to make sure the information you are writing about is up to date.
5. The final stage is to review the guest blogging guidelines to make sure that your content meets the criteria including word counts.
6. Once you are ready to pitch your idea or post to the owner of the blog. Emails must be unique and personalised. Begin the email with something about their website. The email should be no more than 150 words and give them a set of topics to choose from. Draw on your experience and published work in the email to convey your expertise.
#4 Broken Link Building
Broken link building aims to find resources in your industry which are no longer active. This may sound
odd – finding something that’s no longer active but bare with me.
Once an old resource is found you can recreate an updated better version.
The last step is to contact webmasters to link to your new content. The broken resource link is then replaced with your newly created content.
Broken link building is not new. But with the expansion of the internet in recent years, the number of broken links is continuing to increase, and with your newly found insight on how to create better content, you can make it work.
Identify your Targets
The first step in broken link building is to identify broken links. One way to do this is to find pages with a lot of outbound links. Resource pages are perfect for this task.
In addition, the chances are there will be a few authority sites in your niche that you want to receive a link from but you can't find a suitable opportunity.
This is an ideal opportunity through broken link building.
Another strategy to find broken links in your industry is to simply enter the following search strings into Google to find pages with lots of links. Many of these pages will be resource pages. Good search strings include:
Keyword + “resources"
Keyword + “blogroll"
The search results page will provide a list of websites containing link rich pages. Add these to a spreadsheet.
Now you will need to check these link rich pages to identify any broken outbound links. For this step you will need to use a broken link tool. There are lots of paid tools but for this guide we will be using Dead Link Checker, which is free to use.
An alternative is 'Check my Links' a free extension for chrome to identify outbound links from a certain page.
Take one of the links from your spreadsheet and enter it into your broken backlink tool.
Select “Check single webpage"
The search tool will identify all of the broken links from a given URL. Some of these links will be suitable for broken link building while others won’t.
You can also run this process on the whole website and find broken outbound links on multiple pages.
However you don’t just want to be creating content for any old broken link. The link must be high quality and have multiple referring domains.
Check the referring domains in a site like Ahrefs. The more sites that are linking to the broken page the better the link is to target and the higher the chances of securing some valuable links.
In Ahrefs you can check referring domains for the link that you have entered:
As a general rule, if a piece of content is linked to a lot (but not in a spammy way) there is usually a very good reason. Often, this is because the content was both valuable and useful.
Qualifying broken links is really important before you start creating replacement content.
When you try to improve a page, website owners will look at your new content and make comparisons.
They will evaluate whether your content is better than the original piece and relevant as a replacement, before they consider replacing the broken link with your content.
Remember the rule, provide value first that's your goal here – if you're certain your creating a resource that's valuable to the website owners – the outreach will be easier.
After you have identified suitable link opportunities, the next step is to actually create the content.
Remember, no one wants to link to a poor piece of content. This is where the building a resource that's valuable asset to the site owners comes into play.
The new page that you create must be relevant to the website that you are targeting. It should also add value and be significantly better than the old piece of content.
Don't be lazy here. There is no room to create a resource that hasn't been pushed to its full potential.
Once your content has been created, you should also have a list of websites with a broken link. This is where you need to reach out to the owner of the site and notify them about your content. Contact the webmasters or site owners using the right contact information.
You can often find out who owns a website by using a site such as BuzzStream or Whois searches, or follow them on twitter.
When you have obtained the right contact details, you can inform them about the broken link and let them know about your newly created content.
This is a strategic process and involves sending a personalised email to the webmaster, blog or website owner. Keep the email short and straight to the point and pitch your new piece of content effectively.
There are two techniques that you can use. Firstly you can state that you are an outsider who found the resource while browsing. Secondly you could simply contact the site owner as yourself. Test the response rates for both of these strategies and find which works the best.
Here are a couple of examples
If you approach content creation properly you should see a good response rate when you reach out to blog and website owners. You want to make it a no brainer that they will link to you.
Hey(site owners first name)
I was recently browsing your web page on (insert subject) I found it really helpful but I noticed you had some broken links on there.
Once of them was (insert broken link)
If you want to update this I found a better resource that you could link out to at (insert new content URL)
Hope that helps
Have a great day
Hi (site owner)
I have recently built an outstanding resource on (insert subject) here (insert link)
I did extensive research during the development of this content and noticed that on your page about (insert subject) here (insert link to page that has broken link)
You share information of a similar type and have created a great resource.
You also have a couple of broken outbound links.
Hope you have a great day
So there you have it. The main ways of building great backlinks to your site. In the next chapter we will explore the main link building tools that are essential for SEO.
If your SEO efforts are to prove successful, there are literally hundreds of tools available to facilitate research and explore competitor activity. This section will provide an overview of the main tools and how you use them for optimum results.
Best For: Backlink Research
The Ahrefs website claims to deliver the world’s largest index of live backlinks and the most up to date content, updating every 15 minutes.
Within Ahrefs you can make use of the six valuable SEO tools including: Site Explorer, Positions Explorer, Content Explorer, Position Tracker, Crawl Report and Alerts. Each one of these tools is extremely beneficial when researching backlinks. The Site Explorer is particularly useful for researching backlink profiles of competitors.
Simply enter a competitor website into the Site Explorer tool and find the following information:
What websites are linking to your competitor’s site
What anchor text they are using
The strength of backlinks that the competitor is using
This tool works with any website (but doesn’t always show everything) and it can be used to gain a comprehensive understanding of a backlink profile, providing you with valuable data which can improve your search results, helping you to build a strong backlink campaign.
While there are multiple ways you can make use of all the above data I will teach you one of the most useful methods in this guide.
Step 1– Enter one of your competitor’s domains into the site explorer
Step 2– Click on ‘Top Pages' in the left hand menu – what you will get is a list of results showing the following.
The amount of keywords each page ranks for
The traffic each page gets (this is not always so accurate)
The top keyword that a page ranks for and its search volume
Now what can you do with this data? Here are some options
Step 3– Find a page in the list of URLs that is relevant to a service you offer or product you sell (keyword wise). You do this by looking at the URL, or the keywords that the page ranks for.
Step 4– Copy the URL. Open that page in your browser and evaluate the content. Is it a guide or valuable resource? Can you improve on it in some way in terms of the layout, the content, the tone or the structure? have a look at it is it a guide, or a great resource – can you
Step 5– Enter the page URL into Ahrefs site explorer, looking specifically at the referring domains. Does the page have a sufficient number of links? If so these can be added to an outreach list that we talked about earlier.
Step 6– The last step is to create an outstanding resource page better than the one you found. Once complete, use outreach to get people to link to your page. If you create something that is better and often that’s not that hard, then your target audience will love to link to your page.
Next put your outreach to work.
Best For: Competitor Research
here are several valuable features of Majestic for SEO including their Site Explorer. This tool allows you to research a domain or URL in an amazing amount of detail. As one of the most well known SEO tools, Majestic provides the most detailed analysis of links that you can find. It also allows you to compare link profiles of up to five domains, assess anchor text and identify links to specific pages.
Start your search in the Site Explorer section and enter any URL relating to your niche.
It is recommended that you aim for top competitors in your industry so you have several strong link profiles to work with. This will also help your own back link research because you can aim to obtain the same or better links. Once you hit the search button on Site Explorer you will be able to find the following information:
External Backlinks | Referring Domains | Referring IPs | Backlink Information | Backlink History | Anchor Text Details
Pay particular attention to the backlinks section at the end of the results. This will provide important information on each link while also being able to obtain more valuable data. Majestic breaks down complex information into easy to digest sections which helps you plan your link building strategy more effectively.
Topical Trust Flow
This is a really important factor in deciding the relevance of your link building efforts. When it was first introduced it was modelled on the old dmoz directory which had been around since Noah and his arc.
You will see in the below graphic that moz.com is massively defined by the tech sector incorporating sub categories relating to the internet, programming, news and search. This along with a lesser value around business and marketing makes it a highly relevant resource if your site falls within any of these niches.
When you’re looking for links, if your site is about pets, you don’t want to be chasing links in the computers section for example, try to stay as relevant as possible.
To see how topical trust flow is built, try the following:
Step 1– Click on the ref domains tab
Step 2– Order by trust flow descending
You will see how a lot of the links to this domain have a high relevance in the same niche. This explains why it scores so highly – because the links are both authoritative and relevant.
Best For: Content Marketing Ideas and expert quote link building.
In link building it is the authoritative links that count. HARO or Help a Reporter Out is a great place to find journalists who are looking for experts to write or contribute towards content.
It allows you to create or contribute towards content for publication in leading magazines and newspapers, by giving interviews or offering expert knowledge on a certain subject
In return you receive a quality backlink to your website.
You can also use HARO to generate ideas for content marketing.
Here are the simple steps for this process
Step 1– Head over to the HARO website and click on ‘Sign up as a source.’
Step 2– Fill in your details
Step 3– Monitor your HARO emails regularly and take immediate action when there is a request for someone with your skillset. I have gained many great links through this method.
Best For: Prospecting & Broken Link Building
The Link Prospector from Citation Labs is a useful tool for SEO. Using the Link Prospector you create a new campaign, and find prospects for gaining relevant links to your site through different types of reports and methods that are available.
The search results will list an endless stream of links depending on the type of report you select for things like resource pages, guest posts, reviews, and links pages. It’s quick, simple and an essential tool for a thorough link building campaign.
Link Prospector from Citation Labs aims to increase accuracy when building quality backlinks. This tool helps to structure outreach opportunities, ensuring maximum reach and amplification which are crucial in earning links, likes and social shares.
There are 16 reports that can be generated using Link Prospector which fall into one of four categories; PR, Conversation, Outreach or Content Development and Outreach.
The Outreach category in particular includes valuable information for back linking including reviews, link pages, directories and professional organisations. You can also locate suitable resource pages which provide valuable linking opportunities.
Using the Link Prospector is easy and involves three simple steps:
The Link Prospector is effective, fast and helps you build high quality backlinks to your website.
Although you shouldn't rely on social media to build links it can be used to build authority. Content promotion can encourage likes and social shares, gradually increasing awareness of your business. With greater brand visibility you can boost your domain authority. As you do so you can increase your page rank without building a vast link profile.
Broken Link Builder
The broken link builder is another resource also offered by Citation Labs. Enter a keyword and the broken link building facility will search relevant websites. Search results will identify countless broken links from pages around the web, but there is a little more to it than that.
Some takeaway tips
1. Use broad keywords when doing searches – If your niche is keto diet for example, then look at topics such as weight loss. Aim to target a wide range of topics. In doing so, the likelihood of finding relevant resources will increase significantly. There is always a creative way to make content fit. It just depends on your approach.
2. Always look at the web archive version of the site/page that is now dead, see if it’s something you can rebuild bigger, better or stronger than before.
3. Export your data and see where the best opportunities are. This will help you clearly focus your resource to obtain the right links, gain traffic and increase rankings. You can also export your list to Buzzstream to help with outreach and finding contact details.
Best For: Outreach
BuzzStream can streamline the outreach process. It works by selecting suitable websites which would be a good fit for requesting links. It is also used as a tool to identify contact information for website owners.
The best way to build a first class link profile is to deploy a strategic content marketing plan with informative, engaging and lengthy articles, infographics and list posts which add real value for your readers.
When you combine high quality content with personalised and targeted outreach, you will benefit from some impressive results. That’s where BuzzStream can come in useful.
Outreach can be one of the most time consuming tasks in SEO. Without using a tool such as BuzzStream, these tasks will be long, incredibly boring and not to mention daunting.
As you discover potential prospects for outreach you have to manually enter them onto a spreadsheet. While this is fine in the beginning, it means that you have to undertake lots of manual research, managing all communication through notes and memory and copying and pasting email templates, tracking response rates and the list goes on.
That’s where BuzzStream Outreach comes in so useful. Simply enter in a web address and it will tell you everything you need to know including the email address that you are looking for. As you enter suitable blogs and websites into the BuzzStream tool, it will automatically find contact names. This allows you to personalise each email to the recipient with little effort. Email personalisation significantly increases response rates.
BuzzStream can also be used to find popular topics that are liked and shared around the web.
There are so many valuable SEO tools that you can use for link building. Each tool will give you an enormous amount of information to build a strong and successful link campaign.
Outreach is a fundamental part of link building and it is one of the most powerful tools that you can leverage. Building links is more than just posting great content. You must reach out to your online community, establish relationships with influencers and develop your authority.
As one of the more challenging sides to SEO, outreach requires persistence and time to perfect.
The ultimate goal from outreach is to develop lasting relationships with leading blog and website owners in your niche to gain more exposure for your content.
There are many types of outreach. Although email is by far the most popular, you can still undertake outreach through commenting on blogs, social media or traditional mail. For the purposes of this guide, we will look at email outreach.
Link building is all about establishing relationships with industry leaders. But finding the right people that you want links from is one of the most difficult aspects of link building. But wait. There are some great tools that help make the process much easier.
Let's say that you are searching for influencers and bloggers in the content marketing niche. Visit the BuzzStream Website and navigate to their Discovery Tool: Type in a relevant keyword that relates to your industry and click search
The search page will bring up a list of results like this:
Scroll through the list and note down any high quality individuals or websites that you could reach out to. This is a great tool because it also brings up email addresses which significantly reduces your research time.
Not only can you get a list of influencers here, you can see who influences them and their network, as well as who they are influenced by and so on. It's a never ending chain of relevant people from your niche.
#2 Ninja Outreach
Another tool that you can use is Ninja Outreach. It streamlines the outreach process allowing you to create custom templates to send influencer emails which substantially boosts your response rate.
Try out different email templates and use the built in analytics from Ninja Outreach to see which ones are the most successful.
Before you can start sending out your emails to prospects, you have to find the right email address. In the next section we will show you how to find suitable link prospects and their email address.
Email outreach is an essential component of link building. But how can you attain quality links through reaching out to blog and website owners?
The goal here is to not only identify high quality links. You should target websites and blog owners who are likely to link to your site.
This process is referred to as 'Reverse Engineering'
Head over to a search engine such as Google or Bing and type in your target keyword.
Take the first website from the list. Using Ahrefs or a link tool of your choice enter the URL and select 'backlinks'. All of the websites in this list are likely to be your targets.
Once you have identified a good prospect it's time to find their email address:
Finding Email Addresses
Hunter.io is a great tool for this because you can use it to find email addresses for owners of any small blog or websites. Simply enter in any URL into the search box and it will bring up a list of email addresses associated with that website:
Although you can reach out to website owners with a website contact form it is not recommended. A website contact form should only be used once all other avenues to find the email address have been exhausted.
Now that you have the email addresses, it's time to start your outreach.
Personalisation is key here.
If you want to succeed in outreach, scripts prove extremely successful. But only if they don't look like an auto generated email that you send out to tonnes of people.
Hi (First Name),
I have been searching for information on (topic) and came across your article (title).
Great post! I especially enjoyed (a feature/benefit of the article that they provided to readers)
I have just published a new guide on (topic) which can be found at (URL)
As you also write about the (topic) I thought it might be of interest.
What's more, my guide may also be a great addition to your blog.
Top Tips to Succeed with Outreach
#1 When it comes to outreach good etiquette is essential. Be polite and professional, avoid being condescending and keep your emails short. Most of all, tailor each outreach email to the person you are writing to. Never burn bridges with your initial contact. You just don't know when you're going to cross paths with these people again if they are in your niche.
#2 Before you ask for a link the best strategy is to provide help. Find a legitimate way of helping a blog or website owner and do it before you ask for a link. It might take extra time but the effort is worth it. There are countless ways in which you can offer help to webmasters.
#3 Broken links and site issues are great. No one likes having a website that is not offering the best experience for their readers. Finding broken links is one of the best ways in which you can help a website owner.
#4 Maybe the logo or the banner of the website is not the best. This can be a great way of earning a link by offering to redesign the logo or website banner.
#5 Questions – Some blogs provide questions which encourage comments. Answer a question through a comment, tweet or even an email. If you answer the question through an email, this can open up a channel of communication with the blog owner.
#6 Educational Guides – If the website runs a number of How To Guides on their website, perhaps they have left off an important item. If they have, pitch your idea to the author of the guide and offer to write the addition for them to include in the post.
Link outreach requires you to provide something of value. If you don't provide anything of value, email outreach will turn out to be very difficult. The more valuable your resource, the more chance you have of securing a link.
So think about creating something great that would be helpful for the website you're contacting. There are so many ways to approach this, keep a look out for our full essential guide to outreach coming soon.
Over the years link building has changed so much, with the introduction of Google Penguin, the saturation of online businesses and rapid growth of many industries.
Building high quality backlinks that have authority is a must. Linking sites with positive metrics will help your SEO efforts.
As well as authority, relevancy to your site also matters. The links that you choose must be relevant to your niche.
Let's say you run a blog on car detailing. If you secure lots of links from blogs and websites in the lifestyle niche this won’t really count. This applies even if the links are from top websites in the industry. To prove valuable, the links that you obtain must be relevant.
There are lots of opinions on relevancy. Some websites are not particularly focused in a specific industry, but include multiple areas of interest. News websites can have articles on tech news, lifestyle and finance. For these sites we recommend that you use TTF (Topical Trust Flow) from Majestic to assess their suitability.
As we have already discussed, amazing content has the potential to unlock thousands of backlinks. But creating content alone won't build the links you need.
There are certain types of content that work well for link building. The first is visual assets such as infographics, charts, diagrams or images.
List posts are also a great way to build content to promote likes, shares and most importantly, links.
The following content is most likely to prove popular for link building.
- Top tips
- How to
- The best of
- Strategies to
Each of the above will increase interest and encourage backlinks. Resource guides which go into detail about a topic are also perfect for link building.
Ultimate guides include an enormous amount of information condensed into a small space. If the content is well written it provides the reader with everything they need for a given topic in one place which would prove extremely valuable.
But how can you use this content in today’s world of SEO?
Google’s Penguin algorithm update had a significant impact on search. So much so, that it shaped today’s world of SEO and link building in many ways.
At the time of its introduction in 2012, many sites were hit with the update. As a result millions of websites went into freefall with their rankings, with some being completely removed from the search engine results pages (SERP).
When it was rolled out, the update aimed to reduce and penalise poor quality linking techniques. Google algorithms rely heavily on website link profiles to determine whether the site is relevant enough to list for a users search query.
Websites that suffered from this update were those with low quality, manipulative links which didn’t offer a positive contribution to website visitors.
Sites that suffered the most from this update were those who:
- Received links from poor quality websites such as directory websites or blog commenting
- Over optimised anchor text targeting specific keywords
- Paid links
- Had excessive links from sites with poor metrics
Using these techniques also breached Google Webmaster Guidelines. (as does most link building strategies). From this day, the entire landscape of link building changed completely.
The Penguin update proved very successful in eliminating spam websites. However at the same time some legitimate sites were also hit with the penalty as well as some huge PBN’s.
Since the initial 2012 update, there have been further developments in the Penguin algorithms. The most recent one is Google Penguin 4.0 in 2016. All of the updates since 2012 have aimed to eliminate unethical practices when it comes to link building.
With the 4.0 update, there have been two key changes. Penguin now operates in real time. Secondly it isn’t a site-wide negative ranking factor. You can now recover from a penalty with a disavow in as little as a few days if it is done correctly.
Before Penguin 4.0, Google would run the algorithm periodically throughout the year and if your site was hit with a penalty, you had to wait until the next time the algorithm was deployed before you could recover.
Even if your site immediately removed the bad links you may have to wait months before the penalty was lifted. In addition, Penguin didn’t just penalise a single page, your entire website could be hit. Commonly, as people discovered, there was a lack of clarity on what was really going on. Pages dropped out of the SERPS completely, there were significant fluctuations in traffic and many site owners struggled with the strategies they had been using prior to the Penguin update.
Furthermore, entire domains would often plummet in the search pages even if the majority of your website was free from spammy links.
This caused serious problems for businesses who faced months of uncertainty until their site was ranking again.
With the 4.0 update, Penguin is now in real time. Unlike before, penalties can be incurred or lifted whenever Google re-indexes or crawls a page. What’s more, Google will penalise pages rather than entire websites. Still though there is no clarity. Website owners don’t receive notifications in the Google Search Console and more often than not they are left to find an expert who can help find out what’s gone wrong and repair the damage.
Ultimately your site will remain unaffected provided that you avoid spammy practices in terms of link building. Adopting best practice when securing links can actually improve the ranking of your site.
If your website does have any bad links you can remove these using the Google disavow tool. Only after bad links are removed can a website start to recover from a penalty.
The best way to ensure a consistently high ranking in the results pages is to implement Google Penguin best practices:
Avoid poor quality links such as blog comments, article marketing, directory links, PBN networks and low quality press releases.
Obtain links from real websites. You should also build natural domain authority and create popular, authoritative content.
Improve your content and post high quality blog posts focusing on relevant topics that will gain attention
Complying with Penguin is vital if you want your website to succeed. Securing high quality links is all about publishing great content that attracts likes, links and social shares.
Learn how to create outstanding content and supercharge your SEO efforts in the next chapter.
There are always SEO black hat techniques that will work with link building, I see them every day, but for your main brand website and for something that is built for the long term I would avoid these processes, as quick fixes are often just that. Black hat or grey hat techniques will do more harm than good to your website over the long term.
Content can make or break a brand. The words and phrases that you choose on product pages and in your blog has a significant impact on how others perceive your business. To increase search engine rankings, attract traffic and generate likes, social shares and links your content needs to be valuable.
But what is the magic formula to creating great content? Here's how…
Developing content for link building is not just about creating any content and hoping for the best. It is about being strategic and using proven content frameworks such as The Skyscraper Technique and deploying effective Copywriting techniques such as bucket brigades.
Successful content marketing relies on understanding your audience. Blog content should be developed for two main audiences. The first is for people who have the power to link to your website. The second is to create useful content for your customers.
Create popular content that people want to read. Make use of tools such as BuzzSumo. Find highly shared topics in your niche and create something better on the same subject.
The better your content the higher your potential authority can be for SEO.
When building content for links, the article or guide should be based around a proven topic that is liked and shared… a lot.
Once you have identified the influencers in your niche and popular blogs and websites that would be beneficial for your link building strategy, the next step is to find out what these people like to share and link to.
There are a couple of techniques that you can use for this. The first is to simply search their website to find popular posts that they frequently share and link to. Secondly you can use a dedicated tool such as BuzzSumo to find out what influencers in your niche share over and over again. These are the topics that you need to be targeting.
When you land on the BuzzSumo site you will see a page like this:
You can either enter in a URL or a topic. Let’s say you wanted to find out about the popular topics relating to SEO tips.
The results page will show you the topics that have been shared the most. As you can see from the page above, the most shared article is a post by Search Engine Land called ‘Link Prospecting Tips and Tricks’ with a total of 1,700 shares.
BuzzSumo also allows you to find out how many backlinks this post has which can prove beneficial.
Once you find the actual article URL, you can then take it over to Ahrefs and put it in the explorer, and find out exactly who links to that article.
Check through each of the results on the page and find a suitable resource that you could create and improve vastly. Your resource HAS TO be better than the one already published.
Add additional sections, expand the content and go into much more detail. You may find that some content was published a long time ago and could do with a refresh. This is an ideal opportunity to create an up to date guide with new strategies and the latest techniques.
At this point, it’s useful to get creative with ideas. How can you really make it better, what do people sharing this really want, why are they sharing it, what help does it give to their audiences? Really think about these questions and brainstorm your ideas.
It needs to be made clear, simply publishing good content is not enough to secure links. The content has to be of a very high standard. Additionally, you MUST add value.
While it’s great to have lots of social shares, ultimately content needs to generate links. Therefore, careful targeting is important so you reach out to the people who are likely to link to your content, provided of course these links are from high quality websites.
We have briefly discussed one method of creating linkable content above, but what other types of content can you create to attract valuable links for SEO?
#1 Research with Statistics
Although it’s not for everyone, original research can provide a unique insight into a specific topic. When people want to reference the information presented in your article, they can link to it with a backlink.
This research should aim to answer important industry questions and provide real value to your audience.
Before attempting an article such as this you should have a good understanding of your research idea and how the data will help your target audience. It can also prove quite complex and time consuming to create but it can result in some high quality back links.
#2 Ebooks and Guides
By far the most popular method of content creation, ebooks and guides can be a great way to provide your audience with comprehensive information on a proven topic.
With an effectively planned piece of content that is well researched and in depth, your post will be a go to resource in the industry.
Once you have created the content you will need to think about a strategy to promote your content to industry influencers to ensure that you gain the backlinks that it was created for.
#3 Visual Content
Variety is key when it comes to link building. Depending on your niche, some people would prefer visual content so keep this in mind when selecting a suitable method of content creation. Visual information is not as boring; it is more engaging and can be easier to link to.
Infographics are great for visual content, but they must contain relevant, helpful information. If the infographic is used on other blogs and websites, make sure you get a backlink from the person who is posting the content.
As well as infographics video content can be beneficial. Short, succinct well-structured videos engage with your audience and get your message across quickly and effectively.
Furthermore, videos are much more difficult to copy than written content but they are often more time consuming to create. If you can build a great video then influencers will often share it and provide a link to your site.
#4 Guest Posts
High authority blogs can be perfect to secure links. Guest posting also helps you to build relationships and increase awareness of your business. Choose your websites very carefully, and make sure that the sites you guest post to are high quality so they help rather than hinder your backlink strategy.
Content is a significant part of any SEO strategy. If you want to build high quality backlinks you can achieve this through the publication and distribution of high quality content that will attract social shares and links.
The best content is something that will help your readers solve a problem or answer their questions. Building a strong foundation for link building is about creating outstanding content based on a proven topic and then sharing it with the right people.
If you want to establish a reputable business you have to gain trust. As you build trust you also gain authority. The best way to build authority is to contribute rather than advertise. Creating content solely for marketing purposes won't have as much impact when compared with content created to genuinely help your community or solve a problem.
When creating your posts increase the reliability of your content by including facts, figures and data to reinforce your points. Data driven content attracts lots of shares and it proves that you know the industry well. It also shows that you have done your research.
Another way that you can build authority alongside your long form content pages is to develop White papers and case studies. Case studies are particularly valuable because they combine large amounts of information into a concise 'story'. This is then targeted toward a specific segment of the market.
Building authority takes time and patience. As long as you create first class content and promote it to the right people you are well on the way to developing a strong link profile.