Gavin Hirst - Thursday 4th April 2013


Successful link building

In the last post, we talked about the importance of link building and the various factors that search engines look for when ranking the importance and relevance of a link such as global popularity, topic-relevance, anchor text, domain authority and social media. We are now going to look at how you can start to think about building links with external sites and maintain this moving forward.

Link building

There are three main ways of building links with external sites:

Natural – these links are given naturally by other sites that find the information on your site relevant to their customers and deem it important enough to link to. You do not need to do anything with these links other than ensure you provide great content when they get to your site and also ensure that the anchor text that the site is using is keyword rich and relevant to the page on your site that it is pointing to.

Outreach – it is very rare that links just magically appear pointing to your site. There is always work to be done to ensure that highly trusted and globally popular sites are pointing at you. At Digital Hothouse, we can help to find relevant sites within your sector who would have a positive effect on your ranking and search traffic if they were pointing a link to you. Once we have identified the site, we can then target that site, creating a value proposition as to why they should be linking to your site. This can include influential bloggers, key organisations within your sector (but not your competition) and relevant directories.

Self-created – there are hundreds of sites out there that offer you the opportunity to link to your own site including blogs, commenting on news articles, guest book signings etc. These carry the lowest weight of any link pointing to your site, however like social media links, if you aggregate enough together, they can add up to send valuable ‘authority’ to your site. It is important to note that Search Engines can see aggressive linking through such methods as spamming so this approach should be a cautious one and only link to relevant articles.

Knowing which sites to target

Knowing which sites to target with your link building strategy is important and that is where Digital Hothouse can help. A good starting point is to look at your competitors. Using simple tools, we can find out which sites are linking to your competitors who may rank well for a particular keyword or phrase. We can then look to target those sites and help to improve your ranking for the identified keyword.

We can also look at relevant search terms that have been identified for your site and analyse the companies who are ranking well for those terms. If you are looking to rank well for a term such as ‘car rentals’, getting a link from sites that already rank well for that search term would help significantly.

What can you be doing now?

One of the easiest ways to start any link building strategy is to get your suppliers and customers to link to you. Get them to endorse you on their site or simply add a link to show other organisations that they have worked with you. Sometimes you may need to put a more formal agreement in place and reciprocal linking is common, however always evaluate the companies you are linking to and from using the factors we have already discussed.

Set up a company blog – you can see the value of that from looking at our own blog. We are constantly signposting to relevant areas of our own site as well as previous blog posts. Blogs are a great way of creating new and engaging content on a monthly/weekly/daily basis. Using sites like WordPress or Tumblr can be an easy way of setting up a blog or developing one within your own site.

Going back to a previous blog post, creating interesting, fun, exciting sharable content is one of the best ways of ensuring people link to you. Using videos, pictures, podcasts, infographics etc all have viral potential if they are done in the right way and that’s what gets people talking about and linking to your content. There are lots of examples out there but a couple of our favourites include ‘Will it blend’ and ’The one dollar shave club’. These are different but very effective ways of getting comments, likes and most importantly shares. Each time someone shares a link to content like this, it points to the location of the content. By hosting videos on their homepage, they are providing interesting and engaging content and encouraging people to share that content.

Finally, produce newsworthy material. If your news articles get picked up by the press, this will lead to lots of traffic pointing to you. These days, you are also likely to attract the interest of influential bloggers if you produce something truly newsworthy and these blogs can really carry weight with search engines.

So, there are lots of things to consider when starting out on a link building strategy. Some things you can be starting to think about now, others you may want further advice with and that’s where Digital Hothouse can help.

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