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Link building: vital, but not a black art

This week I was going to write some serious articles about link building, and its relevance today, but in doing my research I found a recent article which more than covers anything I can tell you. If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare, reading Shaun Anderson’s Free Link Building Tips For 2014 will tell you everything you need to know, and probably much more besides.

Getting links to your website – and particularly to individual pages on topics for which you’d like to be found – is still important. What’s got link building a bad reputation has been the “SEO consultants” who went out and generated their clients hundreds of fabricated links from irrelevant sites, only to find that Google decided not just to ignore these, but to penalise sites with lots of them. But good links from good sites are still what gets your site up the top of the Google results.

In the article, Shaun recommends the following. Firstly, sort out your own site. Yes, internal links are important too. If you want a page to rank in Google for “blue widgets”, make sure other mentions of blue widgets in the text on your site are links to that page. Then, somehow, start to work out a strategy for getting links from really authoritative, branded sites. Sure, the BBC site would be great, but in reality, you’re going to be targeting the news sites within your industry sector – in other words, getting good old fashioned PR coverage.

Also look at any established, trusted website which might link to you, such as academic sites. There are probably many ways you could get a link; don’t waste any opportunities if you’ve done any collaborations with schools or universities, or sponsored anything there. And testimonials are great: if you can’t get a customer or supplier to mention you on their site (with a link), then perhaps you could write something for their site saying how proud you are to work with them.

Everything else is probably of lesser importance. Links on social media don’t count for much (if anything) nowadays, but they do spread the word, and get you unexpected links. For example, this blog has had links from people I don’t know, who came across the article which they linked to by following a link on Twitter

Then there are the “don’t do it!” links, which are still widely chased after, despite it being fairly common knowledge that they can lead to penalties – yes, they’re actually counterproductive. These include “comment spam”. I run a music website, and this gets over 100 comments a day of the type: “Mmm, this is a great blog, well done, plumber in Chicago“. Just don’t do this. Also, don’t do massive directory submissions, because this is such an easy way for Google to spot artificial link builders. There’s nothing wrong with appearing in directories, unless you appear for the first time in 1,000 directories overnight.

You’ll infer from all this that there’s nobody better at getting links for your company than you. No “SEO consultant” will have the day-to-day industry experience which could spot the opportunities out there. It’s not a black art, really it’s not.

Further reading: Free Link Building Tips For 2014 on Hobo.

2 thoughts on “Link building: vital, but not a black art”

  1. Talking of links, I’ve noticed that links in your articles always open in the same tab; is that a conscious decision and, if so, why? We purposefully go the other way and make sure that links to external sites (E.g. exhibition sites) open in new tabs so that people don’t lose sight of our website.

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