Link building is one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of SEO. It’s also one of the most important. Survey after survey from companies like Moz, SearchMetrics, and other big names in SEO show that above all, marketers view links as the most important ranking factor.
You’ve built your website, filled it with informative and engaging content, and optimised on-page factors like titles and internal linking. Now how can you start building the powerful, authoritative links your website needs to rank for its target keywords?
Below, we’ve listed the four types of links you should be building in 2016, from editorial links to recommendations from other brands. We’ve also explained how you can acquire these links for your website to improve its organic search visibility and build stable rankings.
Whether you’re just starting to build links for a new project or need to update your link-building strategy for 2016, add these high-quality links to your website’s link portfolio this year and you’ll notice a measurable improvement in its rankings, traffic, and revenue.
Mentions in newspapers and mainstream media websites
For many digital marketers, links from high-quality newspapers like The Times or the Wall Street Journal are the gold standard of inbound links. Google values links from newspapers for several reasons:
- Most newspapers have websites that date back to the 1990s with tens of thousands of links, giving their domains high PageRank and huge authority within Google’s index.
- Newspapers have strict editorial processes, which prevent spam links and low-quality outbound links from appearing in their content.
- Readers are likely to read, share and respond to newspaper content, giving the value of their links beyond an SEO perspective and making them a valuable source of direct traffic.
The key to earning newspaper links in 2016 is the same as it was last year, or the year before that: do something newsworthy.
From creative promotions to unusual products, many SEO-focused businesses make their way into newspapers by doing or creating interesting things. Others ride an existing wave to attract attention by doing the right thing at the right time.
If you run a product-based business, one way to do this is to release a novelty product that ties into a current event.
After American real estate tycoon Donald Trump announced his run for the 2016 Presidential Election, costume and lingerie site Yandy latched onto the massive wave of publicity by selling “sexy” Donald Trump Halloween costumes.
Talk about an SEO success story. Yandy, which is a small lingerie shop that would rarely, if ever make it into these publications on its own merits as a website, was rewarded with valuable links and huge amounts of traffic by riding the wave Donald Trump created with his campaign.
Another way to attract the attention of the media is to build viral publicity into your product. Early in 2015, Australian entrepreneur Mat Carpenter built an online store called Ship Your Enemies Glitter. The store sold one item: annoying bags of glitter designed to irritate people’s enemies.
Within days, it was featured in the Guardian, Time, and numerous other newspapers. It sold just over a week later for $85,000 at auction. From an SEO perspective alone, the newspaper links it earned would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to generate through manual outreach.
The how of this is simple: do something that people want to talk about. Newspapers aren’t at all opposed to publishing commercial content, as long as it’s something readers want to share and comment on. In the process, they’ll happily reward you with valuable inbound links.
Editorial links from local and niche-focused bloggers
If links from newspapers are the gold standard of SEO, links from niche blogs are best thought of as sterling silver. Building links from authoritative, popular blogs in your niche is a great way to strengthen your website’s traffic while driving relevant, motivated traffic.
Like newspapers, blogs attract a lot of links of their own, giving them relatively high PageRank and strong link profiles. Better yet, since blogs are typically managed by one person (or a small team of people), it’s far easier to get their attention than it is the editor of a large newspaper.
Editorial links are links within the content of a post, like this one to our local SEO guide. Since they appear naturally, in context, as part of a page’s content, they have serious value not just from an SEO perspective, but as drivers of traffic for your website.
When it comes to earning editorial links from bloggers, there are several strategies that you can use:
- Do it the old-fashioned way, through email outreach and relationship development with bloggers in your niche.
- Publish great content and get in touch via Twitter, LinkedIn or other social networks to encourage bloggers to link back to you.
- Build an influencer list of bloggers like Groove, and email them whenever you have a new piece of content that’s worth linking to.
The key to this strategy, as with the newspaper technique above, is to be worth talking about.
Few bloggers will be willing to link to your content if it’s purely commercial and designed not to help people, but to sell to them. Many will be eager to link to your content if it’s useful, engaging, and interesting enough to please their readers.
Recommendations from other businesses
Links from other businesses, particularly businesses within your industry, are some of the most valuable links you can earn. If you have existing business relationships, they’re also some of the easiest inbound links to build.
Often, all it takes to build an inbound link to your business from one of your partners is a simple email. If you’re a supplier or partner to another business, reach out and ask if they could link to your website from their “Resources” or “Partners” section.
With a few emails, you could earn a link or two from valuable business websites, often on pages that are only a few steps from the homepage and that carry a reasonable amount of PageRank.
Another great way to do this is to offer to provide a testimonial to your suppliers. If you can write a few nice words about their service, they’ll often include your testimonial, complete with a great link to your website, on their homepage.
That’s a big SEO asset — a homepage link from a trusted business in your industry. And it’s a link you get by offering mutual value since you’re providing a testimonial that helps the supplier improve their credibility and conversions.
Bylined links on relevant, high-value publications
Does your industry have trade publications? Almost every industry has trade publications aimed at professionals and entrepreneurs, from digital marketing to manufacturing. If you have a talent for writing, you can build powerful links by contributing to these publications as an expert.
For example, in the digital marketing industry, websites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land encourage experts to reach out and contribute. Doing so is a win-win for them and the contributor — the publication gets free content and the contributor gets free publicity.
From an SEO perspective, it’s actually a triple win, since you’ll earn a juicy inbound link in your article’s byline after you’re published. Although most publications will only offer your own name or your brand name as a choice of anchor text, a bylined link still carried a great deal of value.
One of the biggest advantages of the bylined link building strategy is that each published piece helps you not just from an SEO perspective, but from a direct marketing perspective. Many of the people that read your piece will visit your website and may even become customers.
How many of the above links are you building?
It’s 2016, and the “rules of link building” that many digital marketers once used either no longer apply or could actively damage your website. If you’re interested in improving your rankings and increasing your search engine visibility in 2016, try building any of the four types of links above.
Don’t have time to build links by yourself? If you’d rather automate the process of building links for your business, try our link building services.