Link building has evolved over the years and with Google rolling out updates, such as the Penguin update in 2017. This update was to combat poor, spammy links to a website, i.e., using “black hat” tactics to secure a link. The idea behind the update was to ensure backlinks are legit, relevant, natural, and high-quality. Google is getting smarter, and you need to, too.
There are various ways to attain high-quality backlinks to your website, and here are my four current favourite approaches.
Press Links/ Digital PR
Press links are excellent, as generally, the DA is high, and the content is often scrapped on other websites, meaning you attain another backlink. Due to the DA of these websites being higher, it means you don’t necessarily need to secure a large amount of them. But there are things you must consider.
- It’s more challenging to obtain a press link.
- You need to pitch your story to the journalist, and they don’t always have time to chat on the phone, so you’ll need to send an email and get straight to the point to grab their attention.
- The email needs to be attention-grabbing, so make sure the headline makes them read on.
- The links can be no-follow, but it’s not always an issue if the DA is high and can still be beneficial.
- Journalists can interpret the story differently to suit their readers and gain a response, so be wary of what you send over and think about how it can be construed to avoid damaging the brand.
Now, although the above points are considerations, once you’ve achieved an editorial link, you’re onto a winner, and you can begin building a relationship with the journalist. This is key. Building editorial relationships is advantageous. You can both rely on each other for backlinks and exclusive news stories. The editor might send you their editorial calendar to plan if there’s something relevant; you can keep them updated too.
One of the exciting things about wanting to attain press links is getting creative with your content. It’s a fantastic opportunity to develop a PR/ content marketing campaign, such as a survey or an interactive piece and outreach to your target media list. This can include national and regional press, industry sites and more. Journalists don’t have time to gather data, so creating a survey is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door and deliver something they’re interested in.
If you’re considering building a survey, do some pre-outreach to see the type of questions/ answers journalists want to see and write about. This helps you design the survey and improves your chance of securing a high-quality backlink. It’s not all about features, gift guides and press releases.
Pre-outreach is critical for any outreach campaign. You need to pitch your idea early to see how much interest there is and whether you want to continue or go back to the drawing board. There’s no point creating a campaign if there’s little interest. Sometimes, it’s better to spend more time creating something that’s headline-worthy.
Backlinks on these sites tend to have long-term value. The story is sometimes re-published, for example, if it’s seasonal or there’s been a second wind of interest from the general public.
Another tip for securing press links is staying one step ahead and being reactive to trends. Jumping on these gives the journalist quick information and avoids missing link opportunities to your competitors.
If you’re looking to get started with this approach, the I’ve actually also got the following resources:
This ties in nicely with press links. Content marketing is fun and enables to you think more about the links you want to achieve and the SEO value it’ll have on your website.
As mentioned above, you can get creative with content marketing campaigns – it’s a fun way to achieve links. There are different levels of content marketing campaigns, but it’s how you execute and pitch it to your target media that’s key.
- The hero campaign – the big campaign that often requires an additional budget for development and more input from other teams, but it can be gratifying. These can include interactive pieces, surveys and more.
- Mid-level campaigns – press releases (new product launches, business updates, breakthrough stories etc.), features (gift guides, brand mention in a relevant store etc.) and more.
- Low-level campaigns – newsworthy blog articles. You can send these out to your target media list or find out what articles are in the pipeline and create a blog article to send over. The editor might not include the full content, but they might take a snippet and link it back to you. Blog articles are great and can sometimes be a quick way to attain a link. For example, an editor could be looking for information on a particular topic, such as Google’s Penguin update. If you’ve already got a blog published covering it, send it over. You haven’t had to create something new, so always stay updated with your target editors’ calendar and requests.
Journalists are aware that the majority of backlinks are for SEO value, which is why you must pitch the campaign correctly (whether it’s an infographic survey or a press release) and avoid directly asking for a backlink. The objective is to attain one, but as journalists are more aware, asking directly for a backlink can be a deal-breaker. Journalists will naturally link to the right page if you share it with them, and there are polite ways to ask for a link. As mentioned before, it’s down to how you communicate with them. For example, you could say, “Here is the final link to the Christmas spend survey campaign, if you wouldn’t mind sharing this with your readers”, or “here is the link to the product page to use in your gift guide”. If the journalist has included the wrong link, don’t be afraid to ask if they can swap it; most of the time, they will.
Content marketing campaigns also target a wider audience and websites, from nationals to industry and specific bloggers. Yes, bloggers. You can work with bloggers to contribute to the content for them to publish it on their website.
Guest blogs are another great to secure a backlink. Reach out to similar sites or industry ones and ask to see the topics they have coming up. If there’s a relevant one, ask if you can contribute by writing a guest post, as it’s something you’re already working on.
There are multiple ways content marketing can attain backlinks, so it’s worth exploring your options.
Internal Link Building
Internal links are valuable and easier to attain, but it always seems to be a method that’s forgotten about. They pass link juice across the site, increasing DA and overall performance, including keyword rankings.
One of the reasons why internal links are important is they provide Google and other search engines with more information about your website, helping to improve ranking positions. Internal links add an extra element of relevancy to your site.
There are different ways to incorporate internal links on your website, and these are just a few of them:
- Cross-linking is great if you have a retail site or any site to link similar pages, such as product pages. For example, if you’re an online clothing store and the page the user has landed on is shoes, you can include internal links to create an outfit by pairing the shoes with a handbag and a dress. The links are still relevant, as you’re telling the user that they might also like x, y and z products.
- Anchor text – all internal links should include an anchor text, which tends to the target keyword or a phrase including it. This not only provides more equity to the page you’re linking to but supports the target keyword and tells Google, “This is the keyword we want ranking”. Again, the internal link must be relevant. Also, don’t have multiple internal links to the same page, as Google will only consider the first one. So, it’s essential that you choose the correct phrase with the target keyword (short and long-tail) and don’t bother adding a no-follow tag, as it won’t make any difference; Google will still only accept the first one.
- Blog articles are a great way to enhance your internal link strategy. Make sure the content is relevant to the page you’re linking too and again, don’t include multiple links to the same page. If you’ve updated a page on the site, published a new one, or a page needs a boost in performance, create some supporting blog articles and include an internal link to that page.
- Homepage internal links should target the most critical pages, such as the top-level category pages. The homepage is the most important and most viewed page, so ensure the correct links are included.
- Category pages can include internal links in the content to the relevant sub-categories and other category pages. These pages are valuable, so including internal links from these pages will be beneficial.
Updating your internal link strategy is a great way to enhance page performance, particularly for underperforming ones. Internal links improve user experience. Not only does it keep them on the site for longer by exploring new pages, but it also makes their journey easier, therefore, improving the chances of them making a purchase and becoming a returning customer.
So, when you’re building a link strategy for your website, don’t ignore internal links. These can be done straight away while other members of the team are working on the external ones.
There are various ways to build your link strategy, but these are just a few of them. The key thing to remember with any external or internal link is that it must be relevant and to not appear too ‘forced’.
Blogger outreach has become a popular choice for attaining a backlink. It often involves partnering with relevant bloggers or influencers with a website and creating an article based on your offerings. For example, providing them with content in exchange for a feature with a backlink.
eCommerce brands tend to send bloggers a gifted product to review and include a link to the relevant page on your website. However, there must be a disclaimer on the blogger’s website to say it’s a gifted product or a promoted post.
Now, as the blogger realm has gotten bigger and become an easier way to attain a backlink, it’s not uncommon for bloggers to want payment, which is something to remember. If a blogger requests payment, make sure you ask what you’ll receive in return – will you get one blog and a social media post with a link and brand mention? Is it worth it? When working with bloggers, there are things to consider, especially if they’re asking for an additional payment.
When choosing a blogger to work with, don’t just review the style and type of blog articles they write. You need to consider other metrics such as:
- Blog frequency – how regular are their blog posts?
- Blog engagement – are followers engaging with their blogs on the website, or are the comments turned off?
- Social media engagement – do the social media posts receive a high volume of engagement (comments, likes, shares etc.)?
- The number of social media followers – how many followers do they have? What’s the ratio between the number of social followers compared to the post engagement? For example, if a blogger has 10,000 Instagram followers but only a small percentage are engaging compared to a blogger with 1000 Instagram followers, a high rate of engagement – which one would you choose? Post engagement is a significant factor that should be considered, as these people are likely to visit your website based on a blogger recommendation and make a purchase.
- How many times will they mention your brand online – through blog articles, social media mentions etc.?
- The DA (domain authority) of a blogger’s website – the average for a blogger is around 20-25, but don’t be put off if the DA is lower, it could mean it’s a new site. The blogger could have started as an Instagram influencer before creating a website. So again, review their social media.
- Is the blogger responsive – this is a huge decider. If the blogger isn’t responsive to your messages, are they someone you trust and want to work with? It’s critical to have a strong, trusting relationship with bloggers.
While it’s good working with the same bloggers, as you’ve built a level of trust with them, attaining a backlink from the same website isn’t always recommended, as you don’t necessarily want your authority to rely on a handful of sites, no matter how high their authority may be.
Brand ambassadors are popular and a great way to work with a blogger long-term. This can include them reviewing more products, more brand mentions on their social media accounts, running competitions, attending events and more.
Blogger followers trust what they’re sharing online, so it can be highly beneficial to your website if you find the right blogger with an active presence online.
Whichever approach you choose, remember that these things take time. We’re often bombarded with stories of quick-wins and viral stories, but often the slow and steady approach is just as good. Take your time to get your link building processes in place, and you’ll be in a much better position than if you try to rush the whole thing.