Webmasters have long argued about whether link-building helps or hinders search engine optimization (SEO). Some avoid the practice altogether, while others insist that a well-planned, strategic and organic approach to link-building is an absolute must. When done properly, link-building works. The key is to have the time, patience and skill-set to make it work.
High-quality links always help. Search engines see those links as a vote of confidence about a website or landing page. The more links a website has, the more it’s seen as a relevant source of trusted information. As those links build, search engines may rank that website higher than a website with fewer links. Unfortunately, some companies cut corners. They purchase links to game the system. Buying links doesn't work, but link-building does.
Avoiding the Link Farm
So, what’s a Link Farm, why should you avoid it and why is link-building different? A Link Farm is a series of websites that are created solely for the purpose of linking to other websites. Companies are typically approached by an unscrupulous digital marketing agency that promises immediate returns. The dishonest firm has a series of ready-made websites, which may look professional but are anything but.
Random and unrelated links are created. The customer comes away convinced they’ve purchased a viable service, and they see some initial returns on their investment. However, over time, search engines weed these links out and the website is punished in its search engine results page (SERP). Traffic and revenues eventually decline and the company's online reputation takes a serious hit.
In the world of digital marketing, nothing is fast or easy. It takes time and effort to build something special. Link-building is an organic approach to improve your PageRank, but it won't happen overnight. This doesn’t mean link-building isn't worth pursuing. It simply means you need to have a strategy designed to help you create links with high-value sources, ones whose content is related and relevant to your own. Here are some tips to making link-building work.
Devote the Time and Make the Effort
Don’t beg for links. Don’t inundate your market, customers or contacts with requests to link to your website. Mindlessly sending link requests won’t work. Focus on getting links with high-quality and relevant sources. Identify the commonalities between your content and your outside link source. Make sure that link is natural.
Devote the time and effort. Again, there are no quick fixes in digital marketing. Your goal is to cultivate links that will improve the quality of your landing pages. That means taking a long-term, strategic approach. Focus on your content and identify the high-level sources that will improve your content’s reach and visibility.
Using a content creation calendar not only helps you plan out your content pieces, but it simplifies how you go about link-building. Granted, this only works on new content pieces, but it gets you in the habit of making link-building part of your inbound marketing strategy. You’ll be able to come up with a series of content ideas and a list of influencers and online resources you can link to. Over time your network will grow, as will your list of contacts.
Have a Strategy and Diversify
Understand who you’re targeting and who they see as a trusted resource. You’re aiming high here. You're trying to connect with a well-recognized market leader. Aiming high is critical. It creates strong relationships with your market’s major deal-makers while helping you solidify your brand. The more high-level market influencers and websites you focus on, the more likely you are to land one of them.
Diversifying your linking targets is also important. This means you’re not just focusing on the most obvious link targets, but are also expanding whom you target. Look at your buyer personas. Have you created content for a specific persona or market segment? Who in that market do these personas look to? The more diversified your strategy, the more likely you are to secure that all-important link.
Limit Your Focus and Use Common Sense
No, this isn’t contradictory to the last tip. What this means is that you limit your focus to a select few content pieces or landing pages. Once you’ve identified those content pieces, you then enact your strategy and combine it with some common sense. First, don’t create links out of elongated sentences or paragraphs. It distracts the users and doesn’t clarify what the link is about. It looks unnatural and leaves the reader guessing about what you're trying to lead them to. Ask that your link partners follow the same rules.
Second, make sure the anchor text, which are the keywords you use for the HTML link, are relevant to the source material. If that anchor text is too long, then the user will be confused about what the link promises. If it’s too short, then it’s equally ambiguous and unclear. Focus on a string of words that clearly outline what the reader is going to see once they click.
Third, don’t link too much. This goes for the links you build with partners and the links between pages on your website. Those internal links increase the value of a website by encouraging users to visit other pages, providing clearer paths for search engine spiders, and they help you convey your brand’s value. However, too much linking can confuse and overwhelm your audience. You want your customers engaged, but not confused.
Hire a Digital Marketing Agency
It’s not uncommon for companies to drop the ball on their link-building strategy. Some don’t have the time and some just haven’t been able to research their market’s most important players. A digital marketing agency can put it all together. They can work with you to come up with a strategy to improve your internal and external links. They can build a network of like-minded professionals, market influencers, and partners so that your followers build your network themselves. They can then monitor the impact on your PageRank, while proactively planning for future link-building activities.
Link-building works. It forces you to take a long-term view towards your content marketing strategy while increasing your network of contacts. It's a process, but it's one worth pursuing.
Connection Model can help you develop a link-building strategy that will work. Request an assessment of what you're doing and what improvements can be made.
If you need help cleaning up your internal links, or if you're looking for a digital marketing agency that can expand your reach in your market with a progressive link-building strategy, then contact us.
Written By: David Carpenter