Search engine optimization has come a long way from its beginnings in the 1990s. Over the years, we have seen our share of SEO techniques getting developed or falling by the wayside.
However, one SEO factor that has persisted after all these years is link-building. And it doesn’t look like it will be disappearing soon, despite declarations by SEO prophets of doom that link-building is dead or is at least close to dying.
This, of course, is just an annoying SEO myth that has been making the rounds for years now. Link-building will always be an essential part of any SEO marketing strategy. Backlinks, after all, are the best way for search engines to see a website as valuable and authoritative – and therefore worth recommending – to its users.
But, backlinks need to be of high quality to make an impression on Google et al. Search engines would be more likely to give you a boost up the SERPs if your links came from sites whose authority level and metrics are particularly impressive.
To put things in the proper perspective: one high-quality link from an authority site is infinitely better than a hundred backlinks from a hundred legitimate but poorly-performing sites. In short, it’s always quality over quantity, even when it comes to backlinks.
So how do you earn high-quality backlinks? Here are some tips:
1. Broken link prospecting
Scanning popular sites for broken links, telling their owners about them, and volunteering one of your relevant pages as a replacement has long been done to get high-quality backlinks. It may sound tedious (and it is), but broken link prospecting is a simple but highly-effective tactic that countless people continue to do.
If you’re going to take this tack when trying to earn high-quality links, then you should always remember to avoid doing any kind of hard sell when pushing for replacing a specific broken link. You might better your chances of getting a positive response if you just write an email that’s honest and straightforward. Some even go to the extent of recommending links from other websites to show they aren’t greedy for link juice, but just want to lend a helping hand.
As I mentioned earlier, broken link prospecting can be tedious. However, there are now tools called backlink explorers that should make your search for broken links easier. If you’re serious about getting quality links through broken links, you must have Ahrefs, Raven, Majestic, Cognitive SEO, Open Site, or other backlink explorers in your arsenal.
2. Guest posting
“Guest posting is dead” is yet another SEO myth that persists to this day. Contrary to what the naysayers say, there are still plenty of quality sites and blogs willing to give you space for your content.
Well-researched, superbly–written, and relevant articles make for good guest posts, which remain to be an effective way of getting linked to by authority blogs. However, avoid tooting your own horn too much in your guest posts because that is one surefire way to get rejected by webmasters and bloggers. While some of them may allow a little self-promotion for your site or business, always keep it down to a minimum.
Aside from sending well-written posts, you must also show the owners of the blog the right attitude by following the site’s guest post submission guidelines, if any.
In your email exchanges with the blogger you aim to do a guest post for, you must also avoid sounding desperate or demanding. Far too many bloggers have been turned off by prospective guest posters who keep on asking what they should do. Or worse – make statements that give the impression they’re giving the blogger an order to publish their article or something along those lines.
3. Local SEO
Optimizing for local search is a necessity particularly if the website is for a business that has either a brick-and-mortar store or one that provides services in a given area.
Aside from helping people find the best businesses at or near their location, local SEO can also help you get high-quality links. You can get lots of high-value links from local community websites, local news and content sites, and high domain authority sites, all of which can be targeted by local SEO strategies.
You might also want to get quality backlinks by becoming more active in your community, donating your time or money to local charitable causes, or sponsoring events in your neighborhood.
Don't forget to read Local SEO in 2018 – Success Beyond the Snack Pack for some extra tips.
4. Article directory submissions
Some say that submitting articles to article directories is risky. It is risky if you’re submitting to link farms disguised as article directories, of which the Internet has many. However, if you’re doing it for high-quality directories like Buzzle, GrowthHackers, and Slashdot you’re on the right track as these have always been an excellent source of high-value backlinks.
You also need to avoid the many legitimate but low-quality article directories online if you want to earn high-quality links to your site.
Of course, it goes without saying that the articles you submit should be well-written, engaging, relevant to your niche, and wholly original.
There’s a reason why the Internet lingo acronym “TL;DR” came about: Many people actually have an aversion to reading lengthy articles, even when they find the topic interesting and useful. Presenting all the salient points of your 5,000-word article in infographic form, however, would boost your chances of getting read by more people.
Infographics have become quite popular these days, as webmasters, bloggers, and people on social media tend to share these mostly engaging, quick and easy-to-digest snapshots of information. They're are much more likely than other content forms to be shared and liked, and that means more chances for high-quality backlinks. You can also expect tons of backlinks to your site if and when your infographic goes viral.
6. Go social
Social media platforms offer a lot of backlinking opportunities for your site. While not a ranking factor for your website, social media profiles provide you a space to place your site’s URL, for starters. You can also make social media posts that promote not only your content, but your products or services as well.
To maximize your presence on social media, you have to show off by creating engaging videos, slideshows, and other types of visual content and share them on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Just don’t forget to include in the description a link back to your site.
7. Flattering posts about influencers
Many people may not like the term “influencers,” but that’s exactly what many bloggers and social media personalities are today. One post or tweet from them about how a specific product made their day and their millions of followers will likely sample that product themselves.
Influencers, indeed, carry a lot of weight online these days, and if they get wind of a complimentary article you wrote about them, they will, in all likelihood, share the link to that post. Sure, you’re publishing an ego-bait post, but if it means getting high-quality backlinks, why not? It’s a win-win proposition anyway, with you getting that high-quality backlink, and the influencer getting exposed to a new audience – yours.
8. Keeping an eye on your competitors
It pays to know what the competition is doing, and what types of backlinks they're getting. By spying on their link-building efforts, you’ll get to see if they’re getting backlinks from high-quality websites, which, in turn, should encourage you to go after these sites yourself to get similar links. Always think that if your competitors can do it, so can you.
One way of never missing a post from your competitors (and finding out about their new backlinks) is to subscribe to their email newsletters, although following them on social media would also work. Being updated on their newest backlinks gives you an idea what they did to get that link. For example, if one backlink was attained through guest blogging, then you must contact the same website that gave your competitor the space and offer to make a guest post too. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll replicate your competitor’s success this way, it’s certainly worth a try.
There are many tools you can use to identify and analyze the backlinks that all your competitors share. You can also use these tools to figure out their techniques and sources.
9. Do original research
All your life, you may have been sharing research published by other bloggers. How about doing your own by publishing case studies, conducting surveys, or even using your business data?
Publishing content made up of original research also positions your site as a source, especially if it’s the type that either confirms standards within your given industry or debunks them. You can be sure that no one else on the Internet has your data, and the uniqueness and freshness of your research are bound to attract bloggers, journalists, and publishers of authority sites. They would be more than willing to share it and give you that high-quality backlink.
10. Always write high-quality content
So you know every trick in the SEO book like the back of your hand. Then, you apply all of them to get your website the best possible results. But, if your content leaves so much to be desired, you cannot expect people to read it, much less share and give you a backlink.
People aren’t likely to link to your site if your written content is atrocious, irrelevant, and entirely useless for readers. If your website content is that bad, then the only way you’ll get backlinks is if other people share your site as a joke. So make sure your writing is up to par, and if it isn’t, then hire writers who can do a better job.
You can read more about the consequences of bad copywriting here: Copywriting Mistakes that Affect Your Reputation.
11. List posts
For some reason, people love articles in list format. Maybe it’s the fact that lists break down the information into bite-sized chunks, and that they are so much easier to read on desktops and mobile devices. In any case, you can catch more attention – and link love, hopefully – by creating posts that are published as lists.
To create list posts that people will potentially link to, you have to make sure that they’re interesting, clever, consistent in their tone and structure, and of course, numbered. People hate having to count the number of items on your list only to find out that you only featured nine instead of 10. If your list post is a long one, splitting it up into sections would be a great idea.
Everyone knows that getting high-quality links is not the easiest thing to do in the world of SEO, but it’s something you have to do to help your business succeed. Backlinks have been a most effective way of achieving success with Google and other search engines, and things will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Author: Anthony Tisara is the Outreach Manager at My Biz Niche, the go-to Phoenix-based digital marketing agency specializing in effective SEO and stunning web design solutions built to capture your target audience and generate more leads. He enjoys traveling with his family and organizing weekly trivia events with his friends.