Most of the original tactics used in search engine optimization (SEO) strategies still exist today, but they have changed dramatically from their original forms. Modern SEO is far more complex, and tactics such as link building require an added level of finesse.
For years, many companies purchased inbound links to improve search engine rankings. Today, this practice violates Google’s search engine guidelines. The risk of purchasing links is high, and companies can invest their money more wisely. Link building, keyword stuffing, and other old SEO tactics often work against companies trying to improve SEO.
Instead of using black-hat tactics, invest in creating high-quality text, video, and image content. Great content improves search engine rankings and offers more value to consumers. Ultimately, developing your online links in a holistic way makes more sense. Here’s how to do it:
- Diversity is Key: Instead of trying to build a network of inbound links through your own online assets, branch out:
- Guest posts – Choose a trade publication or well-read online forum, and write to the site’s specifications. Most online publications accept submissions that meet their requirements. In addition to building inbound links, your guest post will also assert your company as a thought leader in a field. Remember, poorly crafted articles can hurt SEO and traffic. However, as long as your company focuses on topics that play to its strengths, your article should reflect well.
- Engage in online conversations – Whether you choose to respond to a question on Quora or post a comment in an industry blog, a well-placed comment can help you build a successful link. Simply add an optimized link within the comment or in your comment sign-off. Only use this practice in forums relevant to your industry or audience.
- Use Competitive Intelligence to Your Advantage: Competitive companies often share inbound links. To gain better visibility, you can do two things with competitive intelligence.
- Match competitor links – Use a backlinks tool to discover which links your competitors have acquired. Work to acquire the same inbound links as several of your competitors to boost your rankings.
- Earn a link from your competitor – You may not convince your competition to link back to your site, but you may do so indirectly. If you work to publish a piece of content with an inbound link on a highly referenced industry site, your competitor may indirectly promote your content and your brand.
- Monitor your competitor’s link-building tactics – Did you know there are tools designed to alert users to new link postings? These tools from SEO companies allow users to monitor their own links and to keep track of where a competitor may earn links, too. Moz, Google, and many smaller companies offer link-monitoring tools.
- Take advantage of social mentions: Any time a social media user or forum commenter posts a brand mention, approach the webmaster for a link. Use social media and online listening platforms to discover who, when, and where your brand is being discussed online. Fresh Web Explorer from Moz allows companies to search for all brand mentions or topics that might interest certain companies. You can also use Link Prospector, Mentions Tracker, or another online tool.
Create an outreach email to turn mentions into links. Send a personalized and simple email to the webmaster or a social media influencer. While you can create a campaign to reach out to several online mentions at once, smaller companies and individuals can send polite custom emails to request a link. Provide the individual with your preferred link to improve the response rate. In 2016, persuasive, human-to-human interaction and strategy are required for effective link building. Unfortunately, you cannot let an automated process take over if you want to build online visibility.
- Try the Skyscraper Technique: This technique requires the development of an exceptional piece of content. Develop a case study, write a white paper, or shoot a documentary that provides an incredible level of information in an accessible way. In short, the piece of content should outshine every other competitive piece online.
For this tactic to be successful, it has to do more than exist. Find a few keywords with high search rates, then search online for the type of content that exists for those keywords. Those pieces of content are your competition. Reach out to other writers who focus on the same topic to earn links, and do everything you can to build inbound links using this one piece of content.
- Conduct an interview: While sitting down with your CEO or a supportive customer can improve SEO, try securing an interview with a social media influencer. Online influencers hold significant power with their audiences, and they’re willing to do anything to promote their own content. When you publish the interview, you can enjoy the inbound links earned from the influencer’s blogs and social media activity.