SEO Essentials: The Art of Link Building and Link Earning

link building

Earn Links ‘Naturally’ To Your Website;
Rise In The Ranks Of Google

Following on our previous article outlining the essentials of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), we’re going to start honing in on some of the essential aspects of getting your online business off the ground.

As we last discussed, SEO is largely concerned with identifying the different signals that Google and other search engines take into consideration when ranking a website for a particular keyword phrase, like “best muffins Minneapolis.”

Now, way back in the 00s, SEOs had accrued a mighty arsenal of rather shady tactics to inflate a site’s Page Ranking and thus increase the value of sites that often supplied no real value or use to searchers.

Central to SEO was the process of link building. Backlinks, or links that point from one site back to yours, were identified by Google co-founders Larry Page and Serge Brin as being the most valuable ranking signal as it indicated what users were naturally choosing to link to.

And while many made a small fortune exploiting this fundamental weakness in Google’s search algorithm, buying and selling thousands of links at a time, it all came crashing down in early 2011 when Google began deploying a series of algorithms with cute names like Panda and Penguin that targeted sites using low-quality or duplicate content and link building tactics that ran afoul of Google’s “link schemes” guidelines.

An entire industry was gutted from the inside out and has since had to rebuild itself into something far stronger and much more inter-disciplinary than the old way of buying and selling links all day long.

The way that Google now operates, the best way to build quality sites that people will naturally link to. That’s right, Google’s link building advice basically boils down to a Field of Dreams-like mantra of “build it (well) and they will come.”

Of course, if you’re new to the online world and want to start ranking your site at the tops of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) then having an effective link building strategy is one of the most time-tested and proven ways to improve a new and existing site’s rankings. Here are some of our favorite link building strategies.

Here are some of our favorite link building strategies.

The 5 Best Link Building Strategies in SEO

 link building

1. Guest Posting

If you know a bit about SEO, you might have just done a double take at the above.

Guest posting–when you write a post for a more established blog as a guest–was famously singled out by Google as an SEO link building scheme, though doing a guest post is not against Google’s guidelines.

The reason guest posting became so popular amongst more short-sighted link builders is that many would pay blogs to post their article and then include exact match anchor text–when the linking text is a keyword that you are targeting like “best online photography blogs.”

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still pitch your guest post idea to the thousands of quality blogs out there that will allow you to link back to your site by including a URL or your business name as the anchor text.

2. Sponsorships

Now hold on a minute.

Don’t you need thousands of dollars to be sponsor something like a film festival or a local organization? Not exactly.

To use another personal professional example, while doing SEO at NYFA, a film school with locations around the world, my SEO team would reach out to film festivals throughout the world and offer to sponsor their festival with social media posts in exchange for a link to our site under the Corporate Sponsors section of their websites.

For instance, if you run a local community blog about the goings-on’s in your town, you can reach out to organizations that you’ve covered in the past or plan to in the future; offer to write a blog article in exchange for a sponsored link.

Or if you have a large social following, offer to do a series of sponsored posts. The secret to sponsorships, like all link building strategies, is to leverage your site’s inherent, non-monetary value.

3. Infographics

A few years back, it seemed like Google was also starting to come down on infographics.

Infographics are data visualizations that turn stats for a particular industry into a visual full of pie charts, bar graphs, and more creative ways of visualizing data along with some explanatory text.

link building

Infographics can be a lot of work in terms of generating the data, so we suggest trying to find a topic for which there is a lot of data that no one has created an infographics for yet.

I helped earn the New York Film Academy tens of thousands of links by creating an infographic on Gender Inequality in Hollywood at a time when that topic was just beginning to gain media attention. Learn more about that example here.

4. Videos

You’ve probably noticed that videos are becoming more commonplace even on sites that are traditionally text-focused, like newspapers.

One of the reasons that video content has become so popular is that internet users are far more likely to click on a video about a topic instead of a text article. In addition, if you can create an informative video that answers a common question in your niche.

For instance, if you run a photography blog, create a series of video tutorials on topics that people tend to search for a lot.

Simply search online and use tools like BuzzSumo and Google Trends to see what topics in your niche are getting the most social shares and searches.

5. Contests

Contests are another link building strategy that might sound like it requires a lot of money but ultimately depends on what you can offer that will earn you press coverage and links from sites that feature online contests.

If you run a for-profit school, hold a contest that offers a course for free and reaches out to photography blogs to let them know with a personalized email.

By creating a buzz-worthy contest and letting the right people know about it, you can earn numerous links to your sites along with articles about your contest.

Ultimately, link building strategies come down to offering something of value to users and other websites, reaching out to other sites and publicizing your unique value proposition, and leveraging the intrinsic value of your site and brand to gain links pointing to your site, thus placing you at the top of Google for more and more search terms.

About the author

    Jack Taylor
    Jack Taylor - 5 years ago

    Hi Jason,

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read on how to build links naturally. Years ago I got into those link building farms. They were good in their day. Nowadays, you’re better off giving Google what they want and build your links naturally. Thanks for the great article on link building!


      Jason - 5 years ago

      Hey Jack,

      I haven’t been around long enough to have witnessed the ‘link building farm’ days. But I have been around long enough to notice that Google (at least as of late) is after quality. Quality content, quality back links go a long way in terms of SEO.

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