A while back, before Google and other search engines ever existed, web ranking was based on keyword usage in a page’s content.
At the time, search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners overused targeted keywords, a method known as keyword stuffing, in a bid to rank higher even when the content didn’t have much to offer around a topic.
A lot has changed since then as link building took over to become the white elephant of the SEO industry.
Since the beginning of search engines like Google, there’s been a gradual whittling away of the value of links as Google selectively picks and ignores certain types of links, especially those that don’t represent a true recommendation.
Google does this to remove irrelevant links from what they consider link signals for ranking purposes.
In their view, a true link signal is when you link to a webpage because it’s relevant to the content’s topic, thereby being useful to the audience and for consideration by search engines.
As a primary part of an effective, performance-based SEO strategy, link building contributes a lot more to a site than just higher organic search rankings.
While search engines use links to discover new web pages and determine how well pages should rank in their results, businesses use links for a lot more than good rankings.
Link building helps you build long-term relationships, leads to an increase in relevant traffic that may lead to an increase in leads or sales, and helps build your brand while establishing you as an authority in your niche.
As sophisticated as search engines become, links still help them determine what content to consider as useful to users. They also help index orphaned or isolated pages, serve as citations for research, and contribute on-page value to readers.
Links aren’t created equal. Just because one link points to your competitor’s site, doesn’t necessarily mean you should acquire the same link. In fact, you may analyze your links and realize that you need to avoid the link altogether.
You could use competitor research tools to help you find important information about links, but several link building tactics can get you more genuine, authoritative and relevant backlinks.
Plus, there’s a difference between a link strategy and link tactic. The link strategy represents the overarching plan while the link tactics are the actual means you use to gain specific objectives for your site.
For most, if not all sites, the only link building strategy that’s required is to create link-worthy content, products or services. A good example is Ahrefs, which creates lots of links because of its tools more than the content they publish on their site.
Your link building strategy, therefore, drives all your link building endeavors while the link building tactics make sure you attain your goal and keep the strategy running.
With that out of the way, here are some types of link building tactics you should be using and practicing strategically on your site right now to boost SEO and derive long-term benefit for your site.
Outreach involves getting in touch with people in your niche or business vertical and introducing them to your product, service or content. In most cases, all you need to do outreach is to have something that’s link-worthy, including your personality or brand.
Through reaching out to startups, entrepreneurs and others in your niche or vertical, you get to let them know about your offering and if they find it useful, they may reference you in their content. Otherwise, they may give you feedback on how to refine your offer for future targeting.
While outreach is a great link building tactic, it mostly requires a linkable asset to be effective. This entails reaching out and letting people know about your content like infographics, tools or articles that are likely to be of use to them.
Consequently, you need to reach out to people who have linked to similar articles on the topic as well as those who mention your target keyword in their content.
Some tools can help you find people who mention your target keyword in their content, thereby giving you a resource of unique sites, which you can reach out to via email or phone.
You can also sign up for Muck Rack or Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to become a source for reporters and journalists. This may land you links on high-profile websites that deliver high-quality and relevant outreach prospects every day to your inbox.
Guest posting or guest blogging is an age-old link building tactic that involves you writing content for other sites in your niche or vertical. When the site publishes your content and you link to yourself from the article, you have built a link for yourself.
The challenge lies in finding good guest post prospects, but you can still search on Google for sites that are looking for guest bloggers.
For example, if you’re in the Finance space, you can search for Finance + intitle:”write for us” and Google will uncover all the finance blogs or sites that are looking for guest bloggers.
While this tactic works, everyone seems to be using it. In this case, you want to find relevant sites, pitch them and see if they’re open to taking guest posts.
If they find your content relevant and potentially attractive to their audience, they’ll almost always accept it and you’ll get your link opportunity right there.
Dead links are all over the web and you’ve probably come across a few of them as you perform content research. It’s one of the gold mines for link building that you can leverage for opportunities.
This link building tactic involves finding a dead or broken link on a site that’s relevant to your niche, creating a similar resource to the one that’s broken, and asking anyone who links to the broken or dead resource to link to your resource instead.
It may look like a lot of work just to get one backlink, but there are more backlinks you can acquire that point to the dead resource and may be willing to swap out their dead link for one that works.
There are several ways to find such dead links and resulting link building opportunities by looking for broken pages on your competitors’ sites. Some involve using software that can show you the dead links and domains that point to their broken pages.
Content creators, especially bloggers and journalists may sometimes mention your brand or business without linking back to you.
For instance, if you offer a particular product and it’s among the best in the niche, it may be featured on a particular report or article but the author hasn’t linked it to your site. That’s an unlinked mention.
If you come across several unlinked mentions, it’s a link building opportunity in waiting. It’s even better because the author already knows your business by mentioning you in their content, so you can reach out and try to convince them to turn the mention into a link.
You can find unlinked mentions using different online tools that search through web pages for mentions of your brand or a word related to your brand, and request for a link.
It’s hard enough to build links, but it’s also easy to lose them with or without your knowledge. If you notice that you’re down by some backlinks over time, you can still reclaim the lost links quickly compared to building new ones from the ground up.
The main reasons why links get lost are that the link was removed or the page just ceased to exist. This could happen due to changes to the website, including URL structure or revamped content, such that an external site that’s linking to a page on your site no longer exists.
When people click on such links, they end up on a 404 page on the site, which isn’t good for SEO purposes.
There are many more reasons why links get lost, but more often than not, they can be reclaimed through outreach to the site owners. If the content was revamped and your link was removed in the process, you can reach out and suggest that they add it back but be careful not to come across as pushy.
If the link was lost because the page ceased to exist, you may not have as much of a chance here to reclaim the link. However, you could report to the site owner about the missing page and find out if it was a mistake or they meant to delete the page.
If the page was deleted by mistake, they may reinstate it and your link. In the process, you could be setting off a great working relationship that could lead to even more link building opportunities further down the line.
More often than not, people will link to content that resonates with their audiences. Linkable assets are simply content pieces like in-depth blog posts, tools, infographics, tutorials and more that deserve links.
Getting links to your linkable assets involves letting the right people know that your content exists to increase the likelihood that they’ll link to it.
Unlike outreach, which is a more selective way of finding link building opportunities, paid promotion through ad networks on social media and Google helps you get your content and linkable assets in front of many eyeballs.
Paid promotion helps with link building because you get tons of links in the process just from people who see your content, and you don’t have to do any outreach whatsoever. Promote it to the right audience and when they see it, they’ll link back to it.
Outreach and guest posting are common link building tactics, but other methods don’t require outreach. Two such tactics are repurposing and syndicating your content.
Repurposing content involves recreating it in a format that fits a particular channel and audience. For instance, if you have a great blog post that could bring in more links if you submitted it as an infographic or video, you can convert the post into snackable content and post it on related sites.
Doing this not only gives you a wider audience, but you also get some additional links back to your site, which are worth having. Your content also gets exposure to a wider audience, which means even more links back to your site.
Syndication involves third-party sites, which pick up your content when you publish it and link back to you as the source.
Some sites only publish an excerpt of your content and link back to your site for readers to get the full post, while others republish the whole piece but still link back to your site.
Link building today isn’t based on quantity as in the past, but on quality.
If you’re planning out your link building strategy, you need to understand that link building is a gradual process, so you won’t get links coming in as instantly as you’d expect them to.
Pages from where you build your links also have to be relevant, authoritative and quality as they determine how high your site will rank on Google search results pages (SERPs).
While consistent publishing can get you more indexed pages and grow inbound links, these seven link building tactics will help you get the best links and score your coveted position in SERPs.
Be strategic and smart about how you create content, market on social media, and use any of these link building tactics to work today.
You’ll find that the real challenge won’t be in the link building process, but in getting trusted, quality and natural links. That’s because it’s no longer about how many links you get, but the quality, which your users and Google will love.
Vibhav is the Co-founder of Outreach Crayon and CBO at Ebizon. He plays a key role in empowering retail clients to catalyze Digital Marketing, Mobile Commerce & other Futuristic technologies as their #1 competitive advantage.