Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Link Building: Best Practices and Ethical Methods

Link-building remains one of the most important aspects of SEO, and something that all SEOs, SEMs and marketers focus most of their efforts on. Here are some rock-solid – and ethical – ways of building links in the post-Penguin era:

1. Guest Blogging

Easily one of the best, safest ways of link-building, post-Penguin. A lot of authority and high-PR blogs encourage guest blogging and ask for guest posts, which presents every blogger out there with an excellent opportunity to build backlinks, get exposure, get the word out and get traffic and visitors from a high-PR source.

A few things to consider when it comes to guest blogging:

(a) Make sure that you choose a blog that is established, has a high PR, and generally has a high level activity on the blog; high traffic and a rather large amount of feedback and comments. Make sure that the blog you choose is related to your niche, as well as your own blog.
(b) Get in touch with the blog owner via email, or via the contact form on their website. Be polite, courteous, and professional when writing the email. Here are some general tips to follow when doing this.
(c) Make sure that you include all your credentials and your portfolio in the email, as this helps establish your credibility in the eyes of the blog owner.
(d) Remember that the post needs to be top-notch, the absolute best that you do! Choose an excellent topic, and run it by the blog owner as well. Write the post like you would write for your own blog, of the best quality. Don’t forget to include a backlink to your own blog – either within the write-up, or in the signature/author profile part.
(e) Getting the headline right is crucial, as it will help drive more traffic to the post.

Nail this part and you’ll get tons of traffic to your post, traffic to your own blog as well as help establish you as a guest blogger, paving the way for more guest-blogging opportunities!

I recommend reading up on this KISSMetrics article to read about guest blogging and it’s various do’s and don’ts in great detail.

2. Producing Great Content

Yes, this works, every single time!

Write an amazing post on your blog; spend your Sunday writing a long, detailed and a well-written quality post. Spend your time to market and spread that post as much as you can. Trust me, a well-written post is the best way of building backlinks, because a well-written post will automatically encourage people to share it (especially on social mediums), as well as link back to it (earning you valuable backlinks).

Write quality, and be consistent about it. Don’t however expect to get tons of backlinks immediately, it usually takes time.

3. Trackbacks

Rather surprisingly, a very small number of people speak about this.

Trackbacks are backlinks that you get one someone’s blog, when you link to them. For instance if you link to someone’s blog, a link (trackback) will also appear on their blog, pointing to your post. This enables the author to know and keep a track of the websites which are linking back to their blog and posts.

Trackbacks are pretty useful for you for a number of reasons. It puts a permanent link to your blog (or one of its posts) on another blog, which could potentially get you traffic from that blog. Secondly, linking to other blogs is good for your SEO health; search engines in particular will like the fact that you’re doing this and it will help build a certain amount of credibility and trustworthiness for your blog.

It could also allow you to build a relationship with other bloggers in your niche, and they may even end up linking back to one of your posts, or maybe even get in touch with you for a guest blogging opportunity.

4. Videos

Pretty self-explanatory. Make a video, any kind of a video that you think would be appropriate to your niche, such as a video-review. Search engines tend to give priority to videos in search results, and videos are hence usually ranked higher than other text-based resources for the same keywords.

Videos will therefore be great for SERPs, and if yours ends up on the first page, even a single link in the description of the video has the potential to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

Besides, people will also tend to link to videos more often, meaning even more exposure!

Videos can also be uploaded to several streaming websites (Youtube of course being the biggest, but also includes the likes of Metacafe, DailyMotion, Vimeo, etc.), which means that you can virtually have an unlimited number of backlinks from the same amount of sources.

5. Press Release

Press releases and PR submissions allow you to get backlinks from high-PR sources that get a ton of traffic on a daily basis! Write a Press Release and submit it to any of the various press release distributors/distribution websites out there. 

Bear in mind that a press release has to be well-written, and focused on what you’re trying to promote (whatever that may be). Also take a moment to go over and follow the guidelines of any PR submission services that you might be using.

Do this right, and you will be able to build high-PR backlinks to your blog, and of course, drive traffic in from these sources.

6. Infographics

Pretty similar to videos; make infographics (plenty of services such as Infogr.am out there that allow you to do this) in order to drive traffic into your blog. Infographics have the power to be shared and go viral very quickly, allowing you to reach out to thousands of people within a short span of time. Add a link to your infographic and you’ll be able to build a massive amount of backlinks and get a large number of inbound traffic, especially if your infographic goes viral!

Here are 9 Powerful Free Infographic Tools, courtesy InfographicsArchive.com.


Pretty similar in nature to guest blogging, except for the fact that posting comments is much simpler in the sense that there are a lot less number of steps involved!

Simply find a good, active (and preferably a high-PR) blog in your niche – one that is relevant to the content and theme of your own blog – and post a comment or two on it on a regular basis.

Some ground rules to follow: make sure it’s a relevant blog, make sure that you fill out all the fields in the comments section (especially the website URL field), and of course, refrain from spamming the blog or the comments section. Only post relevant comments, that add something to the conversation and are constructive and thought-provoking.

Pro-tip: I personally suggest finding blogs that offer a do-follow link to your blog, such as the ones using the infamous CommentLuv plugin.

8. Social Media

Social mediums such as Twitter, G+ and of course Facebook remain an excellent way of getting valuable backlinks for yourself. These social websites will get you a large amount of traffic, provided the size of your reach, and also make it easy for your followers and fans to share the links with their contacts, circles and people in their networks. 

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