A few years ago before the Penguins & Pandas of the online marketing world it was possible to do what you want with your website content and build large volumes of low quality, easy-to-get links and still rank on Google. Unfortunately, those days are gone and it is now harder to rank a site organically for your chosen keywords. These days it is all about quality and once you’ve nailed the content which is in your control, it becomes all about links. Generally the harder the link is to obtain the better quality it will be and the bigger impact it will have on your rankings. Link diversity is also important with Google comparing the proportion of each type of link in each niche as well as nofollow vs dofollow link ratios (which is why I am now happy with either type of link).
To boost my own websites rankings I built a huge range of links last year and tested many different strategies. I learnt a lot of my link building tactics from articles like this one so thought I would give back and share 11 types of link I had success with last year and what my focus is going to be in 2015.
1. Guest Posting
Last year was the year the online marketing community declared guest blogs or posts dead but in my view they are far from it. As long as the blog you are targeting is high quality, they only accept the best authors and if there is a chance to generate actual traffic from the post then its well worth it from an SEO and PR perspective.
2. Local Directories
With a huge number of low quality, poorly designed directories that charged ridiculous amounts for inclusion; utilising directories was also declared dead during the year. That’s not to say that all directories are bad for your SEO efforts however. Last year I found and created unique listings on a huge range of New Zealand based directories and whilst easy to obtain I am confident these links from high quality local directories are still valuable.
3. Niche Directories
Along with local directories I also tracked down a number of niche directories for my website. I reviewed each of these to ensure they were actually valuable (using Majestic SEOs Trust & Citation flow) and made sure I didn’t overdo the number of links I generated in this category. I continue to generate actual traffic from my target market from these directory links which is a good sign that it is a worthwhile link.
4. Content Sharing
One of the most frustrating things about starting out running a blog and creating content is how hard it is to get initial traction and have people actually reading, sharing and linking to your content. Luckily their are a lot of niche content aggregators out there which take submissions. If your content is actually high quality this can generate you a link and much needed publicity from your target market.
5. Expired Domains
One of the most questionable tactics I adopted last year but which has (so far) proved valuable was monitoring the expiring domains list daily and looking for old businesses that stopped using a very closely related domain to my website. These domains were used by other marketing companies or publications and I ensured that I only purchased the very best on offer after analysing hundreds (if not thousands). Once purchased I redirected these to my site passing some of the value of the links pointing at these domains to my own site. Whilst these domains currently have some SEO benefit (I saw immediate ranking increases) I think this will be short lived. What will be valuable long term however is the significant volume of relevant traffic generated through these domains.
6. Tool Creation
I mentioned that SEO in the past year has been all about quality but it is also about value: the more value in the content that you offer the easier it will be to build a link. For that reason I thought I would spend some time creating a tool or plugin that webmasters in New Zealand specifically (my main target market) would find valuable. I settled on a Kiwiana themed plugin for a bit of fun and whilst not the greatest plugin ever created it was fast for me to make and worthwhile from a “time per link” perspective even if the value I provided was just ‘novelty value’.
During the year I ran a competition for the sole reason of generating links from New Zealand based competition sites (and to give my readers something free!). Whilst this type of link is not relevant or in my niche I did find some high quality websites that accepted submissions and helped give my link profile some diversity. To get the full value of the competition I also utilised ‘gating’ where to enter the competition the person had to like, tweet or +1 my site, adding to the virality. As well as links I also generated a significant number of email subscribers all for the cost of a $20 book.
8. Ego Baiting
One of my favourite parts of content marketing is Ego Baiting and its not for a reason you would expect – I genuinely love rewarding excellent online marketing companies who create tools I use everyday. The practice of ego baiting essentially means mentioning a company in an article with the sole purpose of appealing to their ego and generating links and social shares. This strategy yielded me more social shares than links but is a strategy I will continue to use when I find awesome tools and companies in my niche.
9. Content Repackaging
In recent years many sites have cropped up to host, organise and share a huge range of different types of content. Slideshows, videos, PDFs, infographics – you name it there’s a site for it. Whilst not a high quality link it’s one I took advantage of using unique content to help diversify my link profile.
10. Link Outreach
One of the reasons that people build so many easy to get directory links to their website is they hate the thought of outreach. Outreach, like telemarketing involves actually contacting a human being, and giving them a reason to link to you. Its hard and it takes time to research, find the opportunities and work out why they would want to link to you and even after all that you may not get a reply. I persisted, fine tuned my messaging and built some high quality links this year.
11. Actual Organic Links
By spending a significant amount of time and putting out high quality articles regularly on relevant topics I hoped to get traffic, convert it into email subscribers and build the occasional link – and I was right. Last year I managed to get some of the easiest links possible – actual organic links. Whilst there is no strategy I applied to get these having some SEO rankings in the first place from the above tactics ensured that my content actually got seen.
Along with the type of links outlined I experimented with job listings, sponsorships, donations, high quality blog commenting and many other strategies with the result being a significant increase in monthly traffic and fluctuating (but better) rankings for my top keywords:
In 2015 I am aiming to build higher quality and more creative links (with adaptions of ideas like this one) and to grow my traffic, ranking and subscribers further. I particularly want to spend time on the following activities which I think offer the best mix of value and cost/time to get the link:
- Data/Research Based Blog Posting (to be used as a reference)
- High Quality Guest Posting
- Broken Backlink Building
- Link Outreach
- Ego Baiting
If you got some value out of this article and have some new ideas for your own link building campaigns I would love if you could help shortcut my link building strategy and link to this article or my site. I would also love to hear in the comments some innovative link building tactics you used last year or plan to use going forward.