The most important off-page SEO task
The most important off-page SEO task
Link Building Matters
Links are still one of the most important factors for SEO. An external link or backlink is a URL that points from another website to your site. If a blogger links to your site from a post, that's a backlink. If a company that you do business with lists you on a page of partners with a link to your homepage, that's a backlink. Google and other search engines count these links as votes of popularity, like citations in scholarly papers. The more votes, the more valuable the website, and the higher it will rank in search results.
Even with all the updates to Google's ranking algorithm, building high-quality backlinks is still one of the most important signals to help your pages rank highly in competitive search results. Google has made many updates focused on identifying and penalizing spam links, so it's not only important to learn basic link building strategies, but to understand what makes a good link.
What Makes a Good Link?
The key to good links is context. A good link connects two sites in a way that provides value and is relevant to the content on both sites. If you sell socks and you get a link from a computer repair site it might not be the best link - unless the site was talking about their favorite socks to wear while repairing computers.
There are dozens of other ways to look at good links versus bad links. There are footer links or paid links and many others. However, if you just focus on a good link - one that provides context and value - you won't have to waste time worrying about bad links.
6 Outreach Tactics to Build General Links
So how do you acquire good links? There are several natural outreach tactics that you can use. Think of these not just a link building, but normal marketing you would want to do to promote your website anyway. You're just using SEO strategies to make sure you get a link out of these activities.
1. Monitor Your Niche: The first step to link building outreach is finding the right people to link to you. To do this, you want to find bloggers, small business owners and people with personal sites who would have a reason to talk about you. Normally these are people who are actively writing or working in your industry or niche. To find these people you can use monitoring tools to keep updated on chatter in your business area. Use Google alerts, Moz, or Buzzsumo to track mentions of your brand or relevant topics. You can also use search operators in Google to find people talking about your business. Make a list of this these outreach prospects and update it as you monitor your niche. Pay special attention to unlinked mentions, basically sites that have mentioned your business but not linked to you, that's an easy win for a link!
2. Leverage Relationships: Reach out to anyone you already have a relationship with, including top customers, suppliers or just friends who happen to have a great presence. Add them to your list as soft outreach targets that you know you can rely on for a link.
3. Think Partnership: After you build an initial outreach list from of both current relationships and new sites, approach them like a partnership, not a someone you're trying to gain a link off. The best link building program is long term, so contact link targets with a personal, custom email. Introduce yourself and your proposal. Don't just ask for a link. Some people might need to link to your site because you offer something that adds value to their business, or you have a unique perspective for their blog post, or you want to offer a guest post strategy, it will all be unique to the site. Take a look at the website you want to target to find an angle for a link.
4. Get Social: Social Media is great place to reach out. Tag a business or influencer on Twitter or Facebook and you're bound to get a response. People are more likely to take action versus email since it's public. Use social media to find link targets and to develop relationships.
5. Understand Anchor Text: Anchor text is the set of words used to describe your link. Google uses this text as a clue for context when attaching an idea of link relevance to your content and applying links to different keyword rankings. Unfortunately, anchor text was on one of the most abused aspects of link building, so it's important to understand that anchor text should be used only to explain the link and why someone should click on it. When doing outreach there's no need to force anchor text, you can suggest anchor text, but the most important piece is still the link. Often, a good link building outreach partner will put the correct anchor text without your guidance.
6. Keep Going: It's important to have at least a lightweight approach to link building and interaction with your pages over time. Share your content on social or reach out to bloggers or other website owners in your space to keep some link momentum so search engines can see off page factors that signal your pages as maintaining or even gaining relevance. Link building is a cycle, you will return to your list and your partners over and over again.
Wherever your home, office or storefront may be, your physical location gives you an angle to get unique local links. A local link is any link from a site based on physical location. An example would be links from your hometown's chamber of commerce to small businesses that operate downtown. Even if your business doesn't have a physical presence you are are still local just by being a small business.
Local links are a nice trust signal that help's Google attach real world locations to your website. It's also harder for your competitors get these links because they have to be in your same location to reach them, so they add nice backlink diversity signals to your site.
To get the local links, do a search for a local business (not yours) in your region and see where they are mentioned online. You'll find local business associations, event pages and personal sites. Add these to your outreach campaign that you built using the tips above. You can use the natural connection of being local as your lead in the email or social mention.
Lost and Broken Links
Finding broken and lost links can be a quick way to win links back to your site. To do this, you can checkfor pages on your site that have links but are down (returning a 404). Use Google Search Console to check 404 pages on your site and see if they are getting links. Any links to 404 pages will not be counted for SEO.
To find these in Google Search Console go to Crawl > Crawl Errors > Not Found and then click on the URL returning a 404 and click the linked from tab. Ahref also offers a broken link report that you can use and the reclaim links, along with the Open Site Explorer from Moz.
Once you find the 404 publish the page (make sure it's the same URL) and resubmit your sitemap or the page itself through Google Search Console to get those links back.