Like anything in the world, search engines are continuing to evolve and become more advanced year after year. Every single website that exists would benefit from ranking on page one of search results, however there unfortunately are only 10 results on page one and millions upon millions of websites competing to get there. This has caused website owners to do anything they can to get to page one, including building links any way possible in an effort to manipulate their search rankings.
In 2013, search engines are smart to the various types of manipulation that exist, and while a select few types of manipulated links still work, the safer long term bet is to build links that aren’t going to potentially hurt your site with the next algorithm updates. Here’s our list of 10 link building tactics that work in 2013 and beyond.
1) Paid Press Releases:
Press releases are a great way to earn links and get attention at the same time. These releases reside on high quality, high PageRank websites, so often times the releases themselves will rank high in search results. We personally utilize PRNewswire for our clients’ releases because of their flexibility in release content, strong distribution network, and strong list of press contacts who view the releases.
One of the advantages of a paid press release link is the strong syndication network that exists within these services. For example, last week we posted a release for a client and that release or a variation of it was picked up by over 200 other sites, all of which now link back to our client’s site. While this “mass” form of link building may seem questionable for some, it works when used in conjunction with other link building techniques and with the right anchor text variations. We’ve even been able to dominate the entire first page of search results for less competitive terms by using press releases for our clients.
2) Free Press Releases:
Not every form of link building has to break the bank. While there’s numerous advantages to using a paid release service, for some of our client’s on a tighter budget we opt for high quality free press release services. While these services won’t get the same media attention or syndication, if you use the right sites you can still get a great link out of it and some strong referral traffic.
Similarly to the paid releases, we’ve also used free press release sites to rank our clients on page 1 of search results just with a few releases for less competitive terms.
3) Guest Blog Posting:
This is a topic that is starting to fall into the gray area because so many people are abusing guest blog posting, however if done properly it can still earn you a strong link. For example, taking the same content and trying to publish it on multiple small blogs isn’t a good guest blogging strategy. However, if there’s a select few incredibly large, strong blogs in your industry and you can write a very strong, well written article to be published there, then it would be a fantastic link building and referral traffic opportunity.
The bottom line with guest blog posting is to evaluate the site you’re posting to, make sure you write high quality content, and don’t abuse the link or link anchor text. It’s also important to do guest blogging on a smaller scale; we’ve seen large scale guest blogging actually hurt sites in the past.
4) Business Partner Links:
Do you have a supplier who you do a large amount of business with? If so, ask them for a link! Do you have an attorney or accountant who does a great job? If so write them a testimonial and ask for a link!
There’s hundreds of opportunities to build links through your everyday business partners, and some of these links could be high quality, industry relevant links that will help enhance your site’s strength.
5) Industry Directories:
Mass submitting to thousands of “SEO Directories” is a thing of the past. Today, the only directories that we think are worth while are industry relevant directories. For example, if you’re an attorney, get yourself listed on a site like AVVO, FindLaw, or other relevant sites that will provide you with a link plus drive some referral traffic your way.
Don’t waste time on irrelevant, junk directory submissions, but rather focus on finding high quality, highly relevant directories that will both give you a link as well as help get your name out there in front of real website visitors.
6) Blog Comments:
Much like directories, you don’t want to submit junk comments to thousands of blogs hoping for an approval or two. What you want to do is form a relationship with several bloggers in your industry, and when applicable contribute to their blog with a highly relevant comment. In exchange, you’ll get a link, and while it may not be the most valuable over time it will certainly help build quality links and diversity in your link profile.
7) Forum Postings:
Again, not the forum postings of 2008 where you submit senseless garbage in hopes of a link. If there’s a few highly relevant forums in your industry, join them, and spend 15 minutes a day answering a few questions. When relevant, drop a link to a blog post or page on your website, and you can even setup a link in your signature so every time you post you get an additional link. But be careful to follow the forum’s rules regarding linking, some forums don’t allow any sort of links while others allow them after you’ve submitted XX amount of posts.
8) Micro Sites:
Even in wake of recent Google updates which were targeted at micro sites and exact match domains, we’re still seeing great results in using micro sites and exact match domains for link building and ranking. We’ve helped numerous clients rank for specific terms by building a micro site targeted at that keyword, and even helped rank their main site by linking to it from that micro site. These micro sites are fairly easy to setup and build and can be a fantastic resource for targeting micro-industries within your industry.
Widgets are still a great tool to use for link building, however require some up-front development costs and thought into developing the right type of widget. Depending on your industry, widgets may or may not work, however we’re often able to come up with a great widget concept for our clients, develop it, and assist in outreach to get the widget embedded.
The advantage of a widget is we can get a large number of links while still providing a useful tool for the end user. We also have full control over the link, anchor text, and where it points, making it a great option to have flexibility when search updates occur.
10) High Quality Content:
It’s my personal opinion that sitting back and waiting for someone to link to you isn’t really SEO, however natural links are always going to be the best kind of links. We work endless hour after hour helping our clients craft the perfect, high quality blog posts, infographics, and videos to help attract true natural links and readership to their site.
While this process is much longer and on-going than the others mentioned in this article, it’s ultimately going to get the most variety in links and look the most natural to search engines. We’ve helped clients get links from some of the strongest site’s in their industry the natural way by crafting fantastic pieces of content.
It’s important to remember that no matter what you do, a diverse link building campaign is key to long term organic success. While these ten tactics are fantastic right now, SEO is an ever evolving process and we constantly are changing the strategies we use for our clients to get them the best results in the most cost effective way. In addition to these ten strategies, we have several more that we implement depending on the exact nature of the industry, competitiveness of the keyword, and other factors.