There’s no arguing with the fact that the number and quality of the backlinks pointing at your website play a role in your site’s performance in the natural search results. But unfortunately, since the recent Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, building effective backlinks isn’t as simple as using an automated tool to crank out spam links from bogus websites.
Instead, the name of the game is now “natural” links. For a few ideas on how to create these highly-desirable site-to-site connections, consider implementing any of the following techniques as a part of your website’s SEO plan:
Technique #1 – Publish and distribute good “link bait” content
The phrase “link bait” refers to articles, videos, infographics and other types of content that use intentionally provocative titles and subjects in order to attract both attention and backlinks. As an example, a blog in the personal finance industry could publish a post titled “101 Ways to Save Money” – a topic that’s bound to generate excitement amongst its audience members.
A few typical link bait formulas you can follow include:
List posts, as in the example above
Interviews with industry experts
Content that takes a controversial stand on a popular topic
Resource roundup articles
Breaking news pieces that cover an industry change
That said, following an established link bait formula isn’t enough to guarantee the creation of links back to your website. If your content isn’t good, it simply isn’t going to gain traction amongst your audience. Instead, use the link bait suggestions above as the foundation for exceptionally high quality content pieces that are sure to gain word-of-mouth interest that leads to natural backlinks.
Technique #2 – Write guest articles for industry blogs
If your website is new and your audience is small, gaining traction with link bait link building can be difficult, as you don’t yet have the readership needed to spread content virally. So if you find that your link bait efforts aren’t resulting in new links, you can jumpstart the process by offering to write guest articles for other sites in your industry.
As a guest author, you provide a well-developed post to a highly-regarded industry site for free, in exchange for a link back to your site. Not only will this link help funnel traffic from the hosting site back to your own, it will give you at least one incredibly powerful backlink for your efforts.
To get started with guest posting, take the following steps:
Identify websites in your industry by searching Google for “[your industry] guest author”
Follow the instructions on these sites to contact site owners with guest post proposals
Direct your efforts to the best-known, most-trafficked sites on your list
Develop killer content for any approved guest post spots in order to build brand awareness
Promote your published guest posts socially in order to build good-will with the hosting site’s owner
Technique #3 – Leverage existing memberships and relationships
Need more backlinks for your website? Take a look at the memberships and relationships you already have!
For example, are you part of a professional organization or local business group? If so, see if your membership allows you to place a link to your website in your member profile. Are you close with other website owners in your industry? Try to leverage these relationships by asking them to promote any of your products or services that you feel would benefit their audience members.
Certainly, you’ll encounter some situations in which “stingy” webmasters are unwilling to lose any traffic or link juice by placing a backlink to your site on their pages. However, in many other instances, you’ll find webmasters who are eager to provide their readers with the best possible information. And if that means linking to your website, they’ll be happy to give you this important SEO factor.
Technique #4 – Check your competitors’ backlink profiles for ideas
If you’ve done all you can to deploy great content, post articles to other sites and leverage your existing connects for backlinks, but you still aren’t seeing results, there’s one final link building option you’ll want to consider – checking out your competitors’ backlinks.
Tools like Majestic SEO and the SEOMoz Open Site Explorer will give you a free glimpse at the sites that are currently linking back to your competitors. Or, if you’re willing to pay for it, both programs offer paid memberships that will provide a complete listing of all the backlinks pointing at a given site.
Once you’ve created an account, entering your competitor’s URLs into the programs’ search bars will provide you with a list of a site’s existing backlinks:
Read through these lists and take note of any possible backlink building opportunities that you aren’t currently taking advantage of. While you’ll want to carefully qualify any new link sources generated using this method to ensure that they’re legitimate options, this technique can be an easy way to get the backlinks your website needs to perform well in the natural search results.