Any company that attempts Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has heard of link building. Link building -- which is the process of getting inbound links that point to your website -- is a critical part of an SEO campaign, and without it, you won't get very far. People often try to cheat their way to a big link profile by buying links from link farms, submitting links to article directories, and more. But since Google launched their Penguin update, it's a lot trickier to improve your search rank using these methods. In fact, using some of these methods can get you kicked off the search results list altogether.
In order to improve your Google search rank (and avoid being penalized), simply follow these top link building strategies to embrace and avoid.
- Write Great Content -- If your content is good, people will want to link to it. It's a basic concept that most people forget. When you're updating your blog posts, spend a little time to think through new industry trends, actionable advice, and interesting topics. And if you need help in the article writing department, check out this article writing advice from @ProBlogger.
- Guest Authoring (Content Marketing) -- Similarly, once you have a bank of great content, distributing articles on authoritative publication websites with a link back to your website is a great way to earn an authoritative link. Before you write, however, make sure you look into each publication's article guidelines (that includes word limits, tone, subject matter). Good quality publication sites often have stringent requirements for articles, and most articles are rejected.
- Infographic Sharing -- Infographics are extremely popular, and they get shared more than most other types of content. Infographics are interesting, visually captivating, and create discussion on social media and forum sites. Just remember that infographic should come with an embed code at the bottom. This helps people add your infographic to their website, and it will link back to yours.
- Request Links Only on Authoritative, Industry-Specific Websites -- Although requesting reciprocal links (see "link exchanges" below) is a bit of a gray area, it can be done if you only request links from high-ranking websites that are related to your industry. Sometimes you can email the webmaster of a high-ranking website (do a site search for 'webmaster' to get their email address is most cases) and write a polite and convincing email as to why they should consider adding your link to their site. Provide them the exact URL and the exact anchor text they want. Always check a website's domain authority before you request a link from them for maximum impact.
- Buying Links -- Never ever buy paid links. People do this all the time, and there are NO paid link services that are totally white hat. Google is great at finding out whether or not your bought low-quality links, so just avoid it altogether.
- Link Pyramids -- In a video update from May 2013, Matt Cutts, who heads up Google's Webspam team, talks about the ways in which the Penguin 2.0 upgraded and enhanced its algorithm in order to better measure link quality and more effectively block link spammers. Many SEOs think Cutts and his team, in the video update, are referring to link wheels, link pyramids and other artificial means of passing page rank through many layers of links.
- Low Quality Press Release Sites -- There's nothing wrong with press release distribution, but it's not a very good link building strategy. Google Penguin devalues free press release websites (most of them use no-follow links); so don't count on them for an impactful rank boost. The caveat to this, however, is that as co-citation becomes increasingly popular, some PR submission strategies might become more beneficial in the future.
- Link Exchanges -- A link exchange is when you and another website agree to give each other a link. The inherent problem with this is that so many websites aren't very authoritative. If you do a link exchange, make sure to check their domain authority first - otherwise, this is another tactic to avoid.
Good link building can make or break your SEO efforts. Since many of the old popular link building strategies are now ineffective after Google Penguin, re-planning your link building strategy is crucial to getting good rankings. Google highly favors great-quality content, and links from very reputable industry websites -- so organize your link building around great content generation and content marketing.
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