Top Link Strategies for SEO
What gets your website noticed and ranked highly? In a word, backlinks. Simply put, it’s your website links found on an outside site (website, social media link, directory listing). The more quality backlinks you have, the higher your page ranks in searches.
The common thread is that to get backlinks from an authority site, your own website must also become an authority.
There are many things you can do to get there, some are more fundamental than others, and some may make you realize when it’s smart to call an expert. Lucky for you if you’re reading this, you’re already in the right place.
It all comes back to good ol’ relationships
It’s often overlooked to apply digital marketing strategies using old school tactics, but… They. Still. Work. Yep, we’re talking about relationships, those you currently have, and those you want to build.
- Ask friends, colleagues, associates, vendors you do business with – anyone with a website – to provide you with back-links. However, choose carefully as relevancy counts. If they aren’t going to make sense to Google, it may end up hurting you in the long run.
- Start the conversation with people you don’t know as well by providing insightful commentary in forum groups, blogs and (gasp) even in social circles. Even if you have to ther are plenty of great companies out there that have link building services where you can get backlinks from an authority site. If you can find an opportunity like that take it.
- For those sites you’d love to get a backlink from, it’s as simple as the old school handshake. Extend your offer to put a backlink of theirs on your site, and the favor will likely be returned. Even better, offer a testimonial that they will be happy to place on their website and you get a backlink in return.
- Location, location, location: where these backlinks appear is also important to ranking. Ideally, you want to be within the content and not on a sidebar or in a footer.
What do your competitors have in common that you don’t?
It’s worthy to investigate your competition and see what backlinks they have in common, and particularly which of those backlinks that you don’t have. The information can direct you to sites that you should gain backlinks from, identify specific industries that have these backlinks, and spot opportunities that research might not otherwise give you. Link Research Tools has a Common Backlinks Tool that does the search for you if you wish to invest in a plan. However, if you’re a small business you might experience a little sticker shock.
Not all directories are created equal
As we mentioned, backlinks on the wrong sites could be as harmful as not being listed on any sites. Pick directories that have relevancy to your niche market, and will, therefore, help get you indexed with the search engine.
DMOZ has created “the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web,” in their humble opinion. It can be a great place to start listing your business, but it can also help you become a valuable by volunteering to edit or suggest a site for a specific category.
When DMOZ needs an editor, and you are knowledgeable about the topic, an icon will appear, and you can apply for the position. Acceptance can be very beneficial, as you will gain access to a more tools that allow you to add, delete, and update links. After gaining experience, you can also apply for additional, and possibly broader, categories.
The blog is still a big deal
Provide killer content on your market, consistently, and you’re irresistible. However, your brilliance can be wasted if you don’t apply smart SEO strategies to your content. Remember the goal is ultimately to become an authority in your niche, so you can in turn end up on authority sites, which provide backlink gold.
- Be authentic – use your words, not others. Link to sites if you are aggregating on a topic.
- Use your keywords – research what words will rank high for you, get your blog found and ultimately used by others searching for your niche.
- Be authoritative – this means you should have a LOT to say on a topic, so go long. Ideally a blog post is somewhere between 650 and 1,000 words. Less than this also hurts your search rankings.
- Remember the handshake: invite someone who is relevant to your market to guest blog; this will usually lead to an invite for you to guest blog on their website as well, backlinks and all.
Social media counts
It should go without saying that having a presence on a variety of social media sites is like having backlinks in the bank. Share your blogs, highlight services or products, share your news, all with links to your website.
However, it sometimes is a facet of your overall marketing package that isn’t taken as seriously. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and many others can be far more effective and impactful if you approach your social media posts with an SEO-driving mindset. Google does pay attention to social signals and if you aren’t using social media to its greatest potential, you are simply wasting your time.
Putting your backlinks on the map, literally
What generally appears when you search for something on the internet? The highest ranking results usually come with a map, and the savvier you become with how to become a trusted Google maps listing, the more likely your business will take such a coveted spot. The result of Google’s map optimization is a more authoritative site, and again it’s all about looking irresistible to other sites that will want to include your backlinks.
However, be warned…the process to becoming “trusted” with Google is intense, requiring a lot of your time, particularly as Street View is concerned. Chances are, you didn’t go into business to spend your hours becoming map-optimized. Save your time and invest the money instead by hiring someone to (pardon the pun) navigate the Google Maps jungle.