Link building strategies are virtually ubiquitous on the web. It wasn't all that long ago that it was possible to rank a site without a clear link building strategy. Today, almost everybody has such a strategy, and the only way to pull ahead of the pack is with an advanced link building strategy.
As time marches on, Google is giving less value to easily obtainable links. This means that simple link exchanges, directory submissions, and blog comments aren't going to cut it anymore, at least not on their own.
Advanced Link Building: Guest Posting and Link Bait
It's not pleasant to hear, but the only way to secure your site's future is to do things the hard way. The more difficult your strategy, the more effective it becomes. Advanced methods like guest posting and link baiting are the only way to ensure a robust site with a diversified traffic stream and resistance to algorithm updates.
1. Guest Posting
This is one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal, but it needs to be done right or it can actually be a waste of time or even counterproductive. Start with an understanding of why you are guest posting in the first place.
- Why Guest Posts?
The most obvious benefit of a guest post is the exposure it gives your brand and the traffic it can send to your site. It can also boost your ranking in the search results. Unfortunately, too many people focus on the latter, and not the former. The fact of the matter is, a guest post that can't send traffic to your site is unlikely to be very helpful for SEO either.
Furthermore, too many people fail to realize how to optimize their links, and end up wasting their effort by just sending a link back to their homepage. The most successful sites rank well not just on their homepage, but on all of their pages. Promote a page on your site that is actually relevant to the guest post, and you won't be wasting your time.
- How to Do it?
As mentioned above, your guest posts should come from sites that are actually authoritative enough to send referral traffic. This means you shouldn't be wasting your time on no-name sites. Instead, focus your efforts on building relationships with influential bloggers.
Spend a fair amount of time exchanging ideas with them and helping them out before you even bring up the possibility of a guest post. Use more than one platform to communicate with them in order to stand out.
- The Dark Side of Guest Posts
The term guest post has become so popular that it is being abused. Never mistake legitimate guest posting for submitting to an article directory. Keep in mind that it should take just as much effort to produce a guest post as it does to make a post for your own site, and that any blogger willing to accept less than that probably isn't worth the effort.
As an alternative to guest posts, you can engage in other collaborative projects like interviews, eBooks, surveys with a large number of bloggers, and other creative ideas. These can often grab more attention and in many cases they are more effective.
2. Link Bait
Link bait is the most legitimate form of link building and always will be. It is the only method that can be considered 100 percent white hat in every case and this makes it an absolute must for any brand that wants to stay in the game forever. Here's how to do it.
- Brainstorm - Link bait is inseparable from creativity. To come up with an idea, you will need to brainstorm, preferably with the help of others. Mix ideas with input from others and step just slightly out of your field for inspiration. Pay attention to things that have gone viral before, and take note of what your industry's influencers are linking to.
- Research - As a compliment to creativity, linkbait must also be driven by original research. People only link to things that are new and that they haven't come across before. The best way to accomplish this is to start with data, instead of information. In other words, weed through reams of material that nobody else is willing to sift through. If you have some proprietary information, consider turning it into link bait.
- Design - Linkbait rarely looks like a normal piece of content. It's often free of ads, has no sidebar, and has a very visual appearance. It doesn't need to be an infographic, but it's best if it has a visual element. Sketch out how you want your content to look and consider hiring some professionals to get the right look.
- Publishing - You should already have a network of influencers in the industry that you have spent a great deal of time communicating with before you even start work on a piece of link bait. Your link bait should be tailored to appeal to this network, and you should involve them in the process by asking for their opinions and feedback.
When you publish the content, let them know that it has gone live and many of them will link to it. Promote the content on all of your social networks and all of the forums that you frequent. Link baiting is viral marketing and it should be approached as such. Almost all content that goes viral does so because it makes its way to a small group of influential people who find it irresistible to share.
Google is looking for organic signals that people are interested in a site. These two link building methods are advanced, but they are the only methods that you can rely on for the long term. The results are already far more powerful than any other method you can use. Don't spend another day churning out low quality links without at least investing some of your time in these methods.
Andrew is employing linkbaiting as a backup linkbuilding strategy that goes together with his regular guest posting tactic. Currently working on a campaign in the elevator maintenance niche.