I’ve been building links for companies big and small for years, and I’ve learned a lot while doing so. If you ask Google, building links for the purpose of ranking higher in search engines is technically against its terms of service. However, there are ways of doing it that are more “white hat”- links that appear to have been created naturally, without obvious manipulation.
What is Link-Building?
When one site links to another, it is basically telling users and search engines that they trust that site. More (quality) links equal higher trust. Simple, right? The job of search engine optimization specialists is to find ways to obtain these backlinks from other sites. The “black hat” way is to simply create your own sites for the sole purpose of linking to your other sites. Google has come down hard on private blog networks, or PBN’s, in the past few years. They are still out there, and there are plenty of people who are making them work, but I’ve never been a big fan. Especially with client sites, I’m just not going to take the risk of losing all my rankings because of some unintentional footprint that gets discovered and results in a penalty.
Whenever someone mentions a “white hat” way to build links, there’s always a chorus of naysayers repeating the same lines verbatim about “any” link-building being against Google’s terms. To these people, I say: there’s a giant difference in scooping up domains, spinning content, and creating links and the way I do it, which is to create an insanely valuable piece of content (a real asset) that will attract links naturally and allow us to build links through quality outreach as well.
The first thing that a company or site owner needs to do is brainstorm. For something to be “linkable”, it needs to be high-quality, creative, useful, controversial, or a combination of these things. In short, it needs to be the best version on the internet. Some industries are boring, and require branching out a bit into what I call “shoulder niches”. For example, a pest control company that needed links branched out into the gardening space and created a nearly 5,000-word guide on natural pest control for gardens, which took weeks of planning, preparation, writing, and design to pull off. However, it’s easily the best guide on the subject anywhere online. This is key.
As a result, when reaching out for links, people are much more likely to give a link since it’s to a high-quality asset and is genuinely useful for their audience.
When links start coming in, your site authority increases, which helps all the pages on your site, and in particular, the pages that you link to from your “asset”. Naturally, link from your asset to your other landing pages that are important for your business. This will direct authority and referral traffic to those pages, which will, in turn, bring in more business.
This can work in virtually any industry. Attorneys usually have a difficult time obtaining links for their site since it can be hard to come up with real valuable assets other than your actual legal services and advice. One firm created an interactive car crash map for the entire state of New Jersey, which details the causes and factors related to the accidents. This not only was an interesting and visually appealing idea but one that could be extremely useful for the public.
For other spaces, ideas can come easily but the execution can be tedious. A site that pushes art materials and sketch classes created an absolutely amazing tutorial on how to draw a realistic horse that has been viewed tens of thousands of times. While the videos, GIFs, pictures, and drawings may have taken what seemed like an eternity to create, it was well worth it from all the links (and business) they have gotten from it.
Seek to add value to the internet, not just find short-term “hacks” that might not exist in a year or two. The unfortunate thing is that most
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If your website is about student loans but you have links on a blog post about pharmaceuticals, this screams “potential link spam” to the smart search engine algorithms. As a reader of that blog post, you’d probably be surprised if a link leads you to a credit loan website.
Readers don’t like surprises from links, and neither do search engines.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to place links exclusively on other student loan websites. Slightly less related backlinks can still be totally legit. You might aim to place links on websites about education, finance, and millennial life, and that should work out fine.
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