Best practices in search engine optimization are always evolving. As Google continues to refine its algorithms, what gets a website ranked highly can be a guessing game for some brands. However, one consistent feature of websites with great SEO is a good volume of quality inbound links.
Link-building has a bad reputation in some circles, and there have certainly been disreputable practices attached to it. As with keyword use, however, it is a widely recognized SEO strategy that has occasionally been abused. As content quality becomes ever more important, link-building best practices have altered to accommodate this.
While there are many ways to begin building links, all of them rely on having content that others will want to link. Content marketing is absolutely essential to link-building, and a great strategy in that area will lead naturally to links. Below is a list of some actions to consider:
- Be sure to promote great content. If there is a piece on an organization's website that never got much recognition, it can be appropriate to re-launch it. But remember, this can only be done with evergreen content that is relevant regardless of how much time has elapsed since it was created, or perhaps seasonal content that is of interest on a yearly basis. Re-launching content can involve posting a link to the original, re-posting it in its entirety, or ensuring that it is prominently placed after a website redesign. Whichever strategy an organization chooses for re-launching, it's also necessary to promote the content via the appropriate social media channels.
- Make content accessible. If it is difficult to find an organization's blog, it will get very few readers – much less readers who are moved to link to outstanding posts. It may be best to host a company blog on the main website rather than on an external blogging platform in order to make it more visible to users.
- Don't be afraid to ask. If there are mentions of an organization on the Internet that are not linked, marketers should not be afraid to email the people who own the websites in question and ask for a link. Particularly if the mentions are positive, this is a great strategy, and the worst that can happen is a refusal. Links that come from mentions that already exist are also very organic, and will not seem forced to visitors or to algorithms.
- Do plenty of research. There are many resources available online that deal with link-building and search engine optimization, including some on this website. The variety of opinions can be overwhelming, but sticking to reputable sources that are familiar with recent algorithm updates can narrow the field considerably. Synthesizing advice and insight from several sources can re-energize an organization's online marketing efforts. There are also several examples available of what not to do with every aspect of search engine optimization and related pursuits, which can also be very instructive.
- It is best if marketers consider link-building an aspect of content marketing and search engine optimization, rather than as a separate pursuit. This perspective can lead to questionable practices like link-farming and engaging link-building services. This should never be necessary, as link-building comes naturally with time and content worth sharing. Building links can move an organization's website higher in search rankings, just as great content can, but the effort should be made for the sake of quality rather than only SEO.
With these tips, organizations can ensure they are building links the right way, and creating quality content simultaneously. This is the real goal of link-building: to create things that readers really do want to share.