In this in-depth post, I will show you a strategic link building technique that works. It is scalable, and when you apply it to your site, your rankings should improve. You may even improve your conversion rate because you are working as the high authority on the topic to search engines.
In this post I’m going to cover:
Understanding what Google wants
How to scale your link building efforts
Keyword research and targeting
How to earn editorial links
Why is an Effective Backlink Portfolio Important?
Backlinks remain a vital Google ranking factor. These days, an effective link building strategy is about trust and popularity.
According to Quick Sprout, domain trust/authority represents 30% of Google’s ranking algorithm.
If you’re making that kind of investment, you need to have accurate information on how to build links that Google will trust.
Step #1: Understanding What Google Wants Helps You Get Backlinks
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing, Google dictates what works. By creating content that aligns with Google’s mission, you’re more likely to rank higher in the SERPs.
Google also believes that there’s always more information out there. With external link building, organizing information (to help your reader) becomes your mission, too. When you pay close attention to what your readers and ideal buyers want, you don’t have to use hype to sell your products.
If you want to get backlinks without getting penalized, you must understand and work closely with Google’s mission statement. If you fail to do that, the technique won’t work.
Before you start building a website link to your web page, ask yourself these questions relating to Google’s mission:
Is my content well-organized?
Do I provide useful information to the sites that will link to mine?
Let’s talk about the first question because for effective link building, site organization matters.
When people come to your site, do you leave them wondering what else to do (especially the first timers)? Make sure that your site is easy to navigate. Here’s a great example:
Here’s another site with disorganized navigation:
Getting the navigation right is the first step in organizing your content so that people and search engines can find information that’s useful and relevant. The second step is to build a foundation that will make other sites want to create an external link to yours.
How to Develop a Strong Backlink Foundation
Let’s say that you have written and published a useful post and want to get it ranked on Google. You may assume the best way to accomplish this is by gaining lots of backlinks.
This isn’t correct. If you generate links to new content too quickly, it looks manipulative and that can be a red flag for Google.
Link building is all about positioning your content and getting more people to link to you. In other words, a single post can be used to gain many quality links to your site.
A high-quality external link has two key advantages over traditional links: relevance and trust. Here’s the difference:
Let’s say that you have a dog training site and you get an inbound link from an article directory. Google won’t see that website link as relevant to the subject of your site.
However, if that link acquisition is from a site that’s related to dog training, like a dog food store or a discussion board that’s centered around dogs, you will not only improve your rankings, but your site will be relevant and valuable to those who visit it – and, that will help you get with more link acquisition and achieve a high PR.
How do you find authority sites where you can build relationships and start the process of gaining relevant backlinks?
The simplest way is to google keywords that bring up sites that are relevant to your field. You can filter out the ones from your competitors.
Once you have identified some sites, then you need to research them further to figure out which ones will help most in your link building efforts. You should take the following factors into consideration.
1. Domain Authority
It’s important to know the domain authority of the sites that you consider for link acquisition. A great tool for this is the Moz Bar, which shows the authority status of any domain or keyword in the search results.
2. Domain Relevancy
As I said above, getting links from relevant domains is a key part of scalable link building. Domain relevancy is also a key Google ranking factor and is especially important if you want to escape the impact of Google Penguin on your search engine rank.
3. Anchor Text
According to a study, “every single site that they looked at that got negatively hit by the Penguin Update had a “money” keyword as its anchor text for over 60% of its incoming links.”
That tells you that if you want to scale your external backlink efforts, you must combine domain relevancy with the right anchor text.
Anchor text is important when assessing the quality of a site. In the image above, 704 sites are linking to Nerd Fitness through branded anchor text (nerd fitness).
When you are building an external link, you should use your brand name with other keyword variations. You could call this branded hybrid anchor text.
For instance, if your site is reiv.com.au, a real estate training site, you can use any of these anchor text variations to generate backlinks:
reiv real estate training
reiv training for beginners
You could also vary the anchor text by using URLs with your target keywords:
http://reiv.com.au real estate
http://reiv.com.au estate training
real estate training at www.reiv.com.au
With the right approach to quality content, domain relevancy, trust flow, and anchor text, you will enjoy the benefits of real traffic and external links to your site.
Two-Tier Strategy for Backlinks
A two-tier linking structure will help you increase the strength, juice, and potential of your inbound links.
Tier 1 backlinks are links you earn/build directly to your site.
Tier 2 backlinks are links that directly pass the ranking value to tier-one links.
If you get a link to your ‘money page’ from a new post on someone else’s blog, that website link may not add much value to your site ranking.
Most of the time, direct backlinks to your site can take a while to have an effect. However, when you strengthen those backlinks, you will see a bump in organic traffic and rankings.
One way to strengthen those links is with social signals. When you pass social signals to your tier 1 backlinks (i.e. sites that linked to you), you will ultimately boost their effectiveness and this will improve your overall Google rankings and get you that high PR you desire.
As for tier 2 backlinks, there are 3 simple steps that you need to follow:
Step #1: Write valuable articles and post them on web 2.0 sites, like Tumblr, Web Node, and Blogger.
Let’s use Tumblr as an example.
First, create and publish your blog.
Next, click “Add Text”:
Next, add your post title and content, then publish.
Step #2: Get your Tumblr page indexed by sharing the post URL on Google+ and Facebook and pinging it at Pingomatic. Pingomatic will syndicate your URL to major content aggregators.
Wait for the site to get crawled and indexed. This should take less than 6 hours. To check, go to the Google search engine and paste your Tumblr URL into the search box.
Step #3: Once indexed, use a branded keyword on the Tumblr page to link back to your site:
This backlink should point directly to your site, but it may not have a strong impact on your rankings. Not everything you do will be like a press release covered by the nightly news. There is still value, however.
In that case, create a tier 2 structure for this Tumblr page. Remember that your link is already there, so all you have to do now is build more authoritative links to your Tumblr page.
Caution: when you’re using a tier 2 link building structure to strengthen your tier 1 backlinks, avoid anchor text over-optimization. Make sure that you aren’t just using this tactic for link acquisition. The new page or site that you create on platforms like Tumblr should be valuable and beneficial to users. From there, you can add a website link.
Use generic anchor text. For example, if the keyword you’re targeting is ‘UK military base,’ your anchor could be:
Learn more about military bases in the UK
Visit this UK military base
In other words, don’t link to your web 2.0 site with an exact match keyword/anchor text combination. This will actually hurt your site’s rank.
Step #3. Keyword Research and Targeting to Improve Your Backlink Portfolio
When building links that scale, it’s all about providing relevant content, so that people will keep linking to it. Keyword targeting is an important aspect of that.
How relevant are your keywords to the prospects’ needs? If you want to make your site more powerful through external link building, you can’t afford to ignore keyword research.
Keyword research helps you to dig into the minds of your target audience.
For example, what happens when you conduct a keyword search in your industry for something like “best social media strategist in NY.”
First, the people searching for that long-tail keyword are interested in talking/working with a professional who understands social media marketing. They don’t want a newbie writing a boring press release, but a strategist; someone with a proven track record.
Second, they are only interested in social media strategists who live in New York, which means that they might be a local business owner wanting a face-to-face meeting.
If you were in that niche, let’s see how you could find suitable keywords to focus your content in the search engine and attract small business owners who need help with social media marketing.
Step #1: Log into your account and select “Start Now.” Once you’re logged in, you answer a series of questions so Google can better understand your business and which keywords you should target.
After you complete the questions, Google will show you keyword themes that may be relevant for your business. You can click the ones that you want to target.
Step 2: You can use some of the themes for your keywords, or you can use tools like Ubersuggest to find additional keywords that relate to the themes Google showed you.
Take care to only include keywords that appeal to your target audience.
For example, if your target audience is a business that is looking for a social media strategist, you can use keywords such as:
social media strategist
social media marketing strategist
social media marketing company
social media consultant
The people searching for the two keyword phrases above are probably freelancers looking to make extra money through social media marketing. Your target audience is the business looking to hire the strategist, not the freelancer.
Never target keywords that are off-topic or unrelated to your core message, products or services. They are not your ideal target audience, so those aren’t the right keywords for you in link acquisition.
When you build a website link, you don’t want to use anchor text that will make site visitors bounce. Remember that scalable link building is concerned with the relevancy of the linking domain.
Targeting Consumer Demographics
This is another essential targeting element for link building. When you know your audience’s demographics (age, gender, education, and so on), you can get inside their heads. When you do, you’ll be able to create useful content that helps them solve their problems. That’s a key component in building organic links that gets you positive results with a high PR.
Open Site Explorer: use this tool from Moz to determine the number of backlinks and the domain authority of referring domain names.
nTopic: a simple tool for topic analysis. It helps you plan content creation from scratch so that you can effectively target the right keywords and improve your rankings.
Step #4: Earn Editorial Backlinks
Earning editorial backlinks from authority sites will really skyrocket your external link-building strategy. To earn those links, you have to provide immense value. You can’t just put some text together and pray for miracles. Here are some techniques to help you gain quality backlinks.
1: Skyscraper Technique
After several years of struggling to get traffic, Brian Dean cracked the external link building code. Once he implemented it, hundreds of people started linking to his first-ever infographic and he received a little above 50,000 unique visitors with tremendously high PR:
The first tool I recommend is Moz’s link explorer. Visit the site and input your competitor’s blog URL. Let’s see which of their posts got the most shares and comments (engagement).
First, enter the URL in the search bar.
Next, log in by providing some basic information. Once you’re logged in, Moz will display detailed information about URL provided. Scroll down the page to see the top websites linking to the domain you entered.
Next, you can click on “Top followed links to this site” to see more information.
Look for the URLs that have high domain authority and are on the topic of your post. These are the URLs you should be targeting for backlinks.
3: Write a Better Headline & Title
In order to grow your business, you need to take actionable steps that will get you results. One such action is to write better headlines than your competitors.
Here are three examples of good headlines:
How You Can Grow Your Email List Through Content Marketing
6 Steps To Attract More Customers To Your Store Through Content Marketing
How a Simple Content Marketing Strategy Improved My Google Rankings by 110%
Adding numbers in titles works. I’ve seen a lot of articles go viral because the headline has a number.
You can use commenting to gain authoritative links.
Links from comments may not have much SEO value, but they can be natural and relevant, which are among the key factors that Google values. Here’s how you get backlinks from comments:
Search for blogs with the dofollow CommentLuv plugin installed.
Subscribe to post updates for at least 5 blogs.
Speed matters. Once you get an alert that a new post has been published, quickly read the post (if it’s a long one, read the first two paragraphs and then the last part to get the main points).
Write a valuable comment. Avoid comments like, ‘nice post’, ‘awesome write up,’ or ‘this post helped me.’
Here’s the kind of comment that can generate traffic and links back to your site:
This comment is rich, helpful, and well written, so readers can benefit not just from the blog post, but from the comment, too. And, of course, the commenter has linked back to his site in the URL field.
Here’s another example, from a guy at Moz who left a wonderful comment and then linked to his blog post:
These days, you need to come at your website from all angles if you want to create a successful and scalable backlink strategy. You should consider things like quality content, easy site navigation, effective CTAs, etc.
By taking a holistic approach to improving your website and marketing strategies, you are more likely to earn backlinks from authoritative sources, which, in turn, can improve your
Link building has been an effective strategy for achieving high PR with Google rankings, even before the first Panda update. I believe it still is, as long as you do it right.
If you want help creating a backlink portfolio or assistance with digital marketing strategy and management in general, reach out for a consultation. We’re here to help!
Have you experimented with scalable external link building?