Link building is an age-old technique in Search Engine Optimization. However, the technique went through a massive transformation after Google overhauled its search algorithm to rank sites based on their quality rather than the volume of links they had.
Today, old-school SEO link building techniques such as article submission, directory submission, and comment posting are considered counter-productive and less effective.
So, it’s very important to know which links are still valued by Google and which ones are detrimental to your website’s online presence.
According to Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, there are quite a few myths floating around in the industry when it comes to link building strategies. In his recent Whiteboard Friday episode, he busted some of those fallacies.
Myth #1: Links from websites with low Domain Authority don’t provide any value.
Myth #2: Links from online directories are a big NO.
Myth #3: Don’t get links too fast or Google will penalize you.
Myth #4: Don’t link out to other sites or you may leak link equity.
Myth #5: Variations in anchor text should be kept to precise proportions.
Myth #6: Never ask for a link directly or you risk a penalty.
Myth #7: More than one link from the same site is useless.
Myth #8: Links from irrelevant sites won’t help you rank better.
Rand says you shouldn’t pay attention to any of the myths above as long as the links you acquire are editorial and legitimate.
I highly recommend watching the episode to learn more about the myths and why you shouldn’t stress over them at all.
Now that some of the common link myths are out of the way, it’s time to do some crystal gazing and learn what link building looks like in 2017.
How Link Building Evolved Over the Years
The approach to link building has evolved over the past several years, but nothing has shifted a link builder’s thinking quite as much as the release of Penguin Update.
On April 24, 2012, Google rolled out the Webspam Update which affected as much as 3.1% of English queries. The update left a severe impact on websites having a huge amount of low-quality backlinks acquired through manipulative practices.
On August 20, 2013, Google released a new algorithm called “Hummingbird” to deliver “precise and fast” results to its users.
On July 24, 2014, Google shook the Local SEO world with the release of Pigeon update significantly affecting local search results.
On July 22, 2015, the Search giant rolled out algorithm update (aka Mobile Update) which was designed to factor in mobile-friendliness as a key component in its ranking mechanism.
Each one these updates have prompted online marketers to change the way they’ve been building links in order to boost their efficiency and ward off potential Google penalties.
Effective Link Building Techniques in 2017
Considering the updates released and their resultant impact on a majority of websites over the past few years, here are some of the effective link building practices in 2017.
Use Skyscraper Techniques
Gone are the days when link building was a quick, automated and “regular” activity. Today, you can build 10X Content a few times and watch its popularity explode across the Internet. This is exactly what the Skyscraper Technique is based on.
Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko.com, is the pioneer of Skyscraper Technique which has helped him boost his traffic by a staggering 110%. The technique entails reviewing existing content for competitive keywords within your niche and then building content pieces that are more comprehensive and useful than the existing pieces currently ranking on Google.
Once you’ve built content that’s epic enough to outshine the existing results, you need to drive an outreach campaign to get the attention of your fellow bloggers and other influential people in your industry. If your outreach campaign is compelling, it will get you quality mentions (read backlinks) from relevant and, possibly, authority sources as well. This might sound like a lot of work, but that’s precisely what it takes – a process that can build quality backlinks and drive traffic on its own.
Write Compelling Testimonials
Everybody appreciates some love, don't they? If you’re using a product or service that you like, you can write a compelling testimonial and ask them if they could put it up on their customer testimonial page. This is a great way to earn backlinks from reputable sites.
If you’re selling software or any digital products, you can easily allow some bloggers to take it on a test drive and write a review based on their experience. More than just backlinks, it’s a great way to get relevant leads from those sites.
This process consists of two major steps:
Step #1: Finding bloggers within your niche
Step #2: Reaching out to them with an email campaign
It might be possible that you have a great product and many people are even acknowledging its epicness. But you don’t know about it yet because they haven’t linked to your site.
By using tools like BuzzSumo and Mention, you can find the resources that have mentioned your business or product on their site. All you need to do is reach out to them via a polite email and ask if they would be willing to link to your site. In most cases, they wouldn’t hesitate since they already like your product.
Create a Scholarship Campaign
Google tends to value backlinks from authority resources such as universities. But, a university wouldn’t link to you unless you’re a valuable resource. Fortunately, there are many ways to make yourself valuable enough. Creating a scholarship campaign is a great way to get universalities to link to your site.
Create a scholarship page on your website, search for university pages that link to scholarships on other sites such as yours. You can do this by using the following search string:
Once you have a list of universities, let them know about it via email.
Build Educational Resources
Building educational resources is a great way to attract educational institutions such as universities to link to your website. You can do it in several ways. For example, you can build an educational explainer video or infographic on your niche which can add immense value to the students and facility alike.
Then use the following search strings to find the universities.
site:.edu “your keyword”
site:.edu “your keyword” + “resources”
site:.edu: “your keyword” + inurl:links
site:.edu: “your keyword” + “other sites”
One you have created a list of universities to approach for inclusion, ask them if they would like to include it on their resources page.
Write Guest Posts
Guest posting has become a popular method to building relationships with other bloggers and acquire valuable links. There are many websites in your niche who might be looking for guest bloggers for the websites. All you need to do is explore the opportunities via Google Search. Here’s how you can reach out to them.
Wondering how to find those prospective sites to pitch for guest blogging? Use the following search strings on Google to find sites that are looking for guest bloggers.
“your niche” + guest post
“your niche” + guest author
“your niche” + write for us
“your niche” + guest article
Broken Link Building
Broken links create a bad user experience, which makes them one of many pet peeves of search engines. There are many websites that don’t update their resources or conduct site audits to discover the broken links. In some cases, the resources they’ve linked to are no longer available. If you have an equally valuable resource on your site, you can get in touch with them through an email outreach campaign to inform them of the broken links and politely offer your resource as an alternative.
There’s a useful Chrome Extension called Check My Links which automatically detects broken links. This is a great way to find your prospective websites to approach.
Build Powerful Infographics
Infographics have always been one of the most powerful tools to go viral and drive backlinks. While many believe it is expensive to build infographics, there are many tools like Piktochart which lets you build your own infographics, for free.
However, powerful infographics are not as much about the cost as they are about the “ideas”. Here are some great tips on how to brainstorm amazing infographics ideas.
Once you build insightful infographics, you can reach out to bloggers within your niche and offer them your infographics as a guest post. Alternatively, you could submit your infographics on sites like Visual.ly, DailyInfoGraphic.com and AmazingInfoGraphics.com.
For some inspiration, these infographics campaigns were so good they were featured in 130 countries and earned over 4,000 international media stories.
Let’s face it – building links in 2017 isn’t a cakewalk. In an increasingly evolving SEO landscape, valuable digital assets, coupled with creative outreach campaigns, will continue to drive traffic and attract natural links from the tribe.
Do you have any ideas on link building opportunities to share with us? Please, let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Susanta Sahoo is founder and chief content marketing strategist at Top League Technologies, a digital marketing start-up in Bhubaneswar, India. By offering SEO consulting services, he helps SMB’s build their online presence and boost ROI. Follow him on Twitter:@sushantsahoo