The process of building links has changed dramatically over the years as search engines evolved. Algorithms are now more focused on the user experience and not on the mere number of links you can get for any given website. I want to share with you how to build a strong and future-proof link portfolio for your own and your clients’ sites the way it should be done at present.
Audit Your Website
Before building new links, you should examine your website’s current link profile. Examine how diverse your current link profile is. Find “bad” links – those that are low quality and may put your site at risk of being penalized. Use backlink analysis tools to examine your links initially.
You also need to check your own website for broken links. You can do this by logging onto your Google Webmaster Tools account, navigating to the “Site Health” tab, and checking your crawl errors. This will let you see which links require repairing, thus helping search engines crawl your site better and attribute your inner pages to your homepage link profile.
Produce Link-Worthy Content
The main difference between link building then and now is quality. There’s no easy way to build links anymore – you need to earn them. The best way to do that is to produce link-worthy content. Create a content strategy aligned with your business goals and with the information your market demands. Integrate this with your social strategy in order to maximize exposure, shares and links to your site.
Practice Contextual Linking
Inserting links that are out of context is bad practice, and yet some spammers are still doing it today. Google and other search engines are zeroing in on this kind of link building. Make sure you select keywords and anchor texts related to the topic of your content. Your anchor text links have to make sense for both search engine algorithms and for readers.
Diversify Your Anchor Text
Search engines are becoming smarter at detecting the context of a given piece of content. As such, you no longer need to focus on an exact-match anchor text keyword to rank for it. Build a natural backlink portfolio by diversifying your anchor text. Make sure you have a healthy mix of brand links, exact-match anchor text keyword links, partial-match keyword links, generic links (like “Click Here”) and page title links, Distribute these links so that you point enough to your homepage while leaving a substantial amount to point to your inner pages, reinforcing these links and making your homepage backlink profile stronger.
Building Your Network of Publishers
As the focus of search engines shift towards user experience, your focus should shift from merely gathering links to getting quality ones. A very good way of acquiring quality links in your profile is to build your network of publishers and put your content out in contextually relevant and digitally influential publications. Having a wider network means three things: expanding your market reach, which promotes your brand; improving your credibility by being featured in an industry-respected source; and publishing your content in different websites, which gives you a stronger, diversified link profile.
Leverage Social Media
It’s important to diversify your traffic sources in case another algorithm update shakes up the system. Search engines are giving significant attention to social signals. Develop a social media strategy that will drive traffic to your website as your protection for future algorithmic updates. Social media also serves as a free medium for sharing your content and making it viral. Create viral campaigns that will encourage people to share your content with their network and have more people talking about your brand.