Mention link building to some people and they’ll shudder before telling you to wash your mouth out, but why?
To put it simply, people started exploiting link building and the web became littered with spammy, rotten links.
Riding into town, though, to clean up this mess is Google with their consumer friendly algorithms. Dodgy links have been weeded out and SERP rankings recalculated.
What more could a consumer want than an awesome set of search results serving their every need?
Therefore it’s time to look at how site owners can embrace this new age of link building.
Is Search Still a Mighty Source of Online Traffic?
When done right, link building helps to score higher ranking points for SERP, but are people still using search engines?
Isn’t it all about social and referral traffic these days?
Let’s take a quick look at huge UK women’s clothes retailer Topshop using the online analysis tool SimilarWeb.
They received a huge 4.6 million views in January 2015, so I think it’s fair to say they know how to win web traffic.
Topshop viewing figures in January 2015 as per SimilarWeb
And what percentage of their traffic is via search? 10%? 20%? Over 30%?!
Yes, that’s right, a whopping 34% of their traffic comes via search channels. It’s second only to direct traffic created by their strong brand.
Topshop traffic channel share between Nov ’14 – Jan ’15 by SimilarWeb
Search, then, remains a lucrative channel that you can’t afford to ignore.
And link building is a very useful tool in optimizing this.
Which Link Building Tricks Do Google’s Algorithms Hate?
Google’s Penguin updates have been trickling out since 2012 and making a huge impact on the SERP.
In Penguin’s targets were spammy link builders, so what is it that really grinds Penguin’s gears?
Link Exchanging – This is a case of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” where one site links to another which then links back to them.
It might be great for you and your buddy, but what value does it add for the consumer? None, because it’s too contrived.
Paid Links – It sounds like a great idea: I’ll give you $20 and you plug my site with a few well placed links. The links may well lead people to great content, but is it right for them?
No, it’s just right for you to scheme your way up the SERP! Google does not look kindly upon this!
Spam / Malware Sites – Is there anything more irritating than getting spammed with dozens of annoying popup adverts? Oh yes, there is! Getting infected with malware!
Consumers do not want to go through this. I repeat: Consumers DO NOT want to go through this!
Make sure that any sites offering to link to you are not infested with nasty software or your SERP ranking will suffer!
If you see something like this popup, then you don’t want to get involved in their link building!
Bot Comments – Commenting on people’s blogs can be really helpful in connecting with affiliates, but barging in and announcing yourself with bots is a big no no!
Take a look at the bot generated comment below from The Independent’s website. It featured on a news report about British football, but does it mention football once?! Does it hell!
Links built by machines are virtually worthless, so keep things real.
Bot comments are nice and easy, but add no value for the consumer.
Irrelevant Directory Links – Article directory links have gradually become less effective as link building tactics. Just stuffing every single directory you can find with your link isn’t going to help anyone.
You’ll waste your time signing up to them and consumers will have to wade through crummy links to find what they want.
For example, if you’re running a site about sportswear, don’t go overloading directories for holiday providers! Google will sniff you out and penalize you!
How Do You Build Amazing Links and Keep Google Happy?
Google does like some links, right?
Sure, and in fact, it’s a great way to boost your SERP ranking if you go about it with a bit of class.
But how do you do this?
Linking Domain Relevancy (LDR) – Google loves relevancy and it gets really excited when it can see that your link profile is full of natural links.
Don’t go chasing links outside of your niche as it gives Google a real headache!
Instead, to really show off your LDR skills, aim to build links with sites in the same sector. Their visitors will love your links and your SERP ranking will only be going up.
Great Content – Say you’ve got the chance to expand your blog audience by taking part in a spot of guest posting. It’s a great opportunity to drop a few links in, but it’s not quite as simple as that.
The quality of your content is perhaps never more liable to scrutiny than in a new arena.
Make sure, then, that your content is absolutely killer. We’re talking great research, original and engaging content and all aimed at the right audience.
And don’t forget to proofread until it hurts. Nothing says amateur more than bad spelling.
Pull all this off and your links will carry some serious weight behind them.
Embrace Social Networks – The signals generated by social networks are becoming more and more influential as consumers spend increasing amounts of time plugged into Twitter, Facebook etc.
Social networks are a great platform to not only share your content, but also engage consumers. Impress them enough and they’ll share your links.
The beauty of these platforms is that they allow content to spread like wildfire across the web, so perfecting social techniques is vital in the modern age.
Adidas let the world give them a hand in link building across Twitter.
Spring Clean Your Links Regularly – Just like that delicious pack of donuts in your kitchen, links soon go out of date and repel people.
You need to regularly find any bad donuts in your link profile and make sure they’re removed. Sometimes this is a simple case of deleting them yourself, but other times you’ll need to approach site owners and ask them to remove them.
Asking site owners to remove links isn’t a nice task. You’re pretty much saying their site is useless, so I suggest treading carefully here.
Try making the blow less heavy by saying you’re trying to change your niche, but don’t DEMAND they remove them. It only causes more trouble for your online profile if things turn nasty.
Build Awareness with Authority – Maybe you’re a new site and you’re not yet seen as an authority, so your links aren’t creating the traffic you want.
What do you do in this situation? You reach out to those with authority!
Try writing some content which mentions authority figures. If your content is truly phenomenal and paints them in a good light then they’re going to want to share your link.
Your authority will grow and Google will reward you with higher SERP rankings.
If search traffic is still important for a multimillion dollar brand such as Topshop, then it’s still important for you!
Therefore, you need to optimize your link building methods to make you maintain a healthy SERP ranking.