What Can You Still Do To Get Links To Your Website?
(This article was originally part of “Why We Can’t Have Nice Things In The SEO Space…” which was written a few weeks ago. That was a very long article and I felt this needed its own article ~ Nick)
In my previous article, I wrote about how overzealous SEOs and webmasters have “ruined” a lot of things by not following Google’s simple link building rules, and how links will become less important to Google in the not so distant future. But links to your website from other sites are still a big part of how Google decides what to show in the search results, and many of those methods can still serve a purpose. “Earning” good links based on the value you provide, that are from high profile, relevant websites is not easy. You can create the greatest content in the world, but if nobody sees it, what good is it? Your content does need to be promoted. Networking, public relations, and the ability to create something of value that others will want to share with others is key.
Too hard? It is difficult at times. That’s why you can’t get good online marketing for just a few bucks.
Here are some relatively easy ways you can acquire links that, if done properly in conjunction with merit-based link earning and in compliance with the link building rules in the Webmaster Guidelines, will not put you at risk of losing out on the next big algorithm update. It may surprise you that some of these old methods still work when you use them as they were originally intended, not as your own personal link building machines.
The following link building tactics are NOT ideal ways to gain incoming links to your website and were highlighted in a list of things SEO’s ruined, but that does not mean they should be ignored completely. These have all been declared “dead” by the SEO blog echo chamber, where if something is repeated often enough it is accepted as “truth” – yet they still serve a purpose when used properly. The key here is moderation. Use your head and ask yourself “Would I do this if there were no search engines?”
Quantity is not always your friend. Quality always is.
Article Marketing Guest Blogging
It seems that a lot of people read Cutts’ original message regarding guest blogging and took it to mean that all guest blogging would be penalized. He later added some clarification that legitimate guest blogging to collaborate, reach a wider audience and all those other good things is still valid. Just don’t make guest blogging the main thing you do to get links to your site. Choose your authors, content, and publishing sites wisely and don’t insist that your keywords are used as the link’s anchor text. The links may not count as much as they once did, or they may be nofollowed by cautious websites, but if it exposes you and your message to a larger audience, that’s a good thing. Someone who sees that may link to you, or even better – become a customer.
Main Objective: Provide Value. Show your expertise.
Believe it or not, people do read the comments on better sites. While most sites now apply the “nofollow” tag to links, if your comment is thoughtful, insightful, or on some way shows the value you have to offer as a representative of your site, service, product, or whatever – people will notice. Like guest blogging, you may not get a direct link as a result of your comment, but you will be seen. Show what you know and someone else may link to you because they liked what you had to say. Commonly used comment systems like Disqus allow you to have a link to your site & social media profiles in the little description that pops up when someone looks for the details about who wrote the comment. For example, my anti-bullshit rants on other sites have brought quite a few visitors to this site, and that has led to great relationships with other people in my line of work – and even some new clients. Show your knowledge and expertise. Even without a link, if you use your real name and are well connected to your site or business’ brand, people will find you. If you know what you are talking about and disagree with a post, say so. This type of open dialogue is what made the web great and it still works very well as a means of promotion. Just be careful if you start picking fights. Some people can be vengeful – see this negative SEO article and its comments for details on how an argument can turn into either a disaster or a link building windfall.
Main Objective: Show what you know. Provide Value.
Like comments and guest blogging, social media is still a great way to reach a wider audience and sometimes gain a link or two. Google has also hinted that social signals are now or will be used more in the future. Does that mean you should repeatedly post links to your site on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter? Hell no. Share your knowledge. Interact with people. Get to know your audience/customers and let them get to know you. You might even get some links, if that is still your main concern.
Main Objective: Show what you know. Provide Value.
Online Press Releases, like the other “outdated” link building opportunities, are not inherently bad. It is all about how they are used. If your company really does have some interesting news, then by all means, write a good press release, and get it in front of the people who might write more about it. Just like in the pre-internet days. While the links in the press release itself may not count for anything as far as Google is concerned, a good journalist may write a real story about you which is great exposure. And the site where THAT is published may be a great place to get a link.
Main Objective: Greater Exposure.
It’s the overuse and abuse of anchor text links with infographics that is the biggest issue. If you have some data that would work well as an infographic that others may want to use, you can still get plenty of traffic and exposure -and maybe even some decent links. Just don’t insist that users of the infographic link to you in some exact wording of keywords.
Main Objective: Provide Value.
There are still industry specific directories that do add to the perception of credibility. For example, a law firm can and should be in some listings of lawyers. Choose wisely – there are still plenty of garbage directories out there so do a little research before using any of them. Don’t expect a big boost in rankings, but directory links can help establish your relevance to a topic. A good rule of thumb if you want to try some directories is to only place your links where the people you want to reach might actually see and follow them.
Think Quality not Quantity.
Objective: Be found where your potential customers are looking
You know those “Share This” buttons at the bottom of this article and somewhere on just about every other blog post on the web? Use them. If you see something interesting, share it. Your followers on those social media sites will appreciate it. You will seem more knowledgable, approachable, and confident enough to share the work of others without feeling like it is a threat to your image of being the top authority on your topic.
The people whose work you share are also paying attention and will probably check out your site as well. If you have something they find shareable, they may return the favor or even link to it on their own site or elsewhere. Again, share only the best stuff – not just stuff from those you wish would do you a favor. And don’t do it only if they do something for you. Do it because you can, and you want to – not because you expect them to scratch your back. You may be surprised to find that others may go ahead and scratch your back for you anyway. If you have done a good job of developing a social media following, you will have more clout. This will make your social shares more valuable to others and they will be more likely to gratefully return the favor in some way – without you begging for it.
Main Objectives: Improve Your Own Visibility. Share Your Expertise. Give “Props” Where Due.
Not Dead Yet
For the moment, links to your site are still one of the main ways Google measures the importance, popularity and relevancy of a page. Too many people react to Google’s statements too extremely: “I’m going to stop doing directory submissions and start doing infographics… Now I am going to stop that and do lots of guest blogging… What do I do now?!”
Slow down, think rationally, and do things that make sense. Just because it is the internet does not mean you should throw all common sense out the window and behave like a toddler turned loose in a candy store. These warnings and penalties come from Google after a vast number of people seemingly forgot the original purpose of various link building methods and treated each one as if it was the latest magic pill that would make SEO dreams come true.
Remember How Search Works, and re-read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. And quit complaining about how Google is out to get you. When it comes to link building, whether that is guest blogging or some other way, think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.